#6 Group B
Nigeria (42), Guinea (68), Madagascar (107), Burundi (136) : Super Eagles fans were delighted with this group when it was picked out of the four Pots in Friday’s draw, and the Fifa rankings certainly reflect their optimism.
According to the Fifa rankings, Nigeria were the third best team out of all the Pot One sides, and they’ve been drawn against the second weakest sides from Pot Two (Guinea) and Pot Three (Madagascar), and the weakest in Pot Four (Burundi).
Things may not ultimately unravel that way, but on paper, the Super Eagles have been placed in the ‘easiest’ group.
#5 Group C
Senegal (23), Algeria (70), Kenya (108), Tanzania (131): While Group C looks—on paper—like a tricky group, the Fifa ranking would suggest that it’s the second easiest of the lot. While Senegal are Africa’s top placed team in the rankings—they’re currently 23rd in the world—Algeria are the lowest ranked of all the Pot Two teams.
Despite their fine qualifying campaign, Kenya are also—on paper—the weakest team in Pot Three, while Tanzania are second only to Burundi in Pot Four.
However, either of the two ‘weaker’ teams in the group will fancy their chances of progressing to the knockouts.
- Getty Images
#4 Group E
Tunisia (28), Mali (65), Mauritania (103), Angola (122): Ahead of the draw, Tunisia were the second highest ranked team in the continent, with a loft placement of 28th in the world.
They also convinced during the qualification campaign, and will be boosted by a favourable group-stage draw. Mali were about average among the Pot Two teams—the Democratic Republic of Congo or Ghana would have been much tougher—while it’s a similar story for Angola in Pot Four.
- Goal Ghana
#3 Group F
This is one of two groups where the Pot Two team (Ghana) has a higher Fifa ranking than the seeds (Cameroon), who in this instance were drawn into Pot One as holders.
Benin are middle-of-the-road among the Pot Three teams, but they’ll definitely be competitive, while it’s a similar story for Guinea-Bissau.
According to the Fifa rankings, they ought to be a much tougher prospect than Burundi or Tanzania.
#2 Group D
Morocco (45), Ivory Coast (65), South Africa (73), Namibia (113): Since the draw, this group has been identified as the ‘Group of Death’, although it isn’t actually the toughest as per the Fifa rankings. South Africa, in Pot Three, are the only team who were the toughest in their respective Pot according to the rankings, although despite being the ‘minnows’ of the group, Namibia are considered the second strongest in Pot Four.
Morocco and the Ivory Coast boast immense offensive talent and pedigree, but aren’t among the highest ranked teams in their Pots.
It’s the presence of South Africa that truly gives this one the perception of a ‘Group of Death’, although with the best third-placed teams progressing, Bafana Bafana might fancy their chances.
- Getty Images
#1 Group A
Egypt (57), Democratic Republic of Congo (46), Uganda (79), Zimbabwe (110): While Group D carries the moniker the ‘Group of Death’, Group A is actually the toughest based on the Fifa rankings. Indeed, there were a few gasps when this quartet were drawn together on Friday, in the shadow of the Giza Pyramids, and there are certainly no guarantees that the hosts will progress here.
Zimbabwe impressed during qualification, taking four points from the DRC, and are the highest ranked team in Pot Four.
The Congolese, actually ranked higher than Egypt, are also a considerable threat and reached the Afcon semi-finals as recently as 2015. The Leopards were the top ranked team in Pot Two, while Uganda—who have had the measure of Egypt in the past—were the second highest ranked team in Pot Three.