This article highlights the possible finishes for these three AFCON 2021 groups
Nigeria remains the only side from Groups D to F to have secured a spot in the knockout stages of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON). Better still, they are the only side in their group that know what position they finish in. But how do the other teams in these groups finish for a spot in the Round of 16?
Here are our predictions as to how Groups D, E and F would end.
Group D: Egypt, Guinea-Bissau, Nigeria, Sudan
Nigeria is already guaranteed the first position in group D based on their head-to-head record with Egypt. A final group fixture against Guinea-Bissau would mean nothing for the Super Eagles with the team, most likely fielding an altered starting XI to rest their big names. A weakened side should give Guinea-Bissau a chance to get something out of this, however, Nigeria would win the day, grinding out a slim win and taking away 9 points in Group D.
The Super Eagles currently lead in Group D, and cannot be overtaken by Egypt, Guinea-Bissau or Sudan
While Egypt can no longer finish first in Group D, they would ensure they treat their last group fixture – against Sudan – a bit more seriously than they treated Guinea-Bissau. Expect Egypt’s highest-scoring fixture to come in round three of the group. They should certainly finish runners-up and claim a total of 6 points.
Guinea-Bissau is currently third in Group D by goal difference, despite having drawn one and lost one like Sudan. A final group game against Nigeria might seem to them like a game the Nigerians will want to throw away, but it should end in another defeat for them, although, a light one. By ending as 3rd with just 1 point, they would miss out on the chance to qualify as one of the four best losers.
Sudan, unlike Guinea-Bissau who takes on an already qualified side, face heavyweights in Egypt, who are uncertain about qualification. While the Sudanese might attempt to take Group D’s second qualification ticket for themselves, it would backfire, leaving them well open for to Egyptians to do their bidding. They should end in last place with 1 point.
Group E: Algeria, Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone
Prediction: Ivory Coast should hold off Algeria, settle for a draw and win Group E
Ivory Coast comes up in a tough encounter with Algeria in their final group game. While the Elephants might have gained valuable points from their first two games to lead Group E, they would need more points to finish there. A tough fixture with Algeria might not entirely go their way, but they should end in 1st position with 5 points.
After a draw and a win in their first two group games, Equatorial Guinea know a win would be more than important when they play Sierra Leone. How since they both need the game, it should end evenly with Equatorial Guinea taking a total of 4 points, and ending Group E as runners-up.
Draws against Algeria and Ivory Coast have put Sierra Leone in a good position to finish well in Group E. Finishing with a least a draw against Equatorial Guinea, however, will go down as finishing well for Sierra Leone as they will end in third with 3 points, and qualify as one of the four best losers.
Prediction: AFCON defending champions Algeria should exit the competition in the group stages
Algeria missed an opportunity to increase its points as it lost to Equatorial Guinea. A stiffer game in Ivory Coast awaits the African champions who might toil but get little out of the game. They should end in the group in a surprise last place, with 2 points.
Group F: Gambia, Mali, Mauritania, Tunisia
Mali, currently second in Group F take on the easiest team in the group – Mauritania on the final day. Having defeated Tunisia in their first game, and drawn with Gambia )who are surprisingly leading the pack at the moment). Mali should find it easy past Mauritania and win the group with 7 points.
Gambia has not just been a surprise in Group F, but also a threat. Their 1-1 draw with Mali meant they would have one foot in the knockouts of their first-ever AFCON tournament. Going against Tunisia in their final group game, they would give their all and like their game against Mali, be rewarded with another draw. They should finish as runners-up with 5 points.
Prediction: Debutants Gambia should force Tunisia to a third-place finish
Tunisia moved from last to third in Group F when they thrashed Mauritania 4-0 in their second group game, thereby earning their first three points in the group. Unfortunately, that should also be their last three points as Gambia would put up a deserving first in their final group game. With points shared with Gambia, Tunisia would be forced to settle for a third-place finish with 4 points. Their points should be however be enough to secure them a spot in the knockout stages as one of the four best losers.
After losing 1-0 to Gambia in their opening fixture, Mauritania proceeded to collect a whopping from Tunisia. 4-0 was how it ended. Against Mali, it will be no different as they should lose again, ending the group with 0 points, and in last place.