While the likes of Cameroon, Senegal, Guinea and Morroco might have booked their places in the knockout stages of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), how they end in their various groups is equally as important as it decides who they meet in the round of 16, and decide their paths to the finals.
AFCON 2021: Who joins Cameroon, Senegal, Guinea and Morroco from Groups A, B and C?
This article highlights the possible finishes for these three AFCON 2021 groups
Here are our predictions as to how Groups A, B and C would end.
Group A: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Ethiopia
Cameroon have had a fine start to the AFCON, winning their first two group games, scoring six goals in the process and qualifying from the group to the knockouts. Their problem, however, has been their inability to keep a clean sheet. This should not be a problem when they take on Cape Verde in their final group game. They should finish 1st, with 9 points.
Burkina Faso got their first points in their second game against Cape Verde. The win meant they shot their way to second, based on head-to-head rankings. A win against Ethiopia in their final game should mean they should end up second in Group A and take home 6 points.
Cape Verde with a goal difference of 0 have been able to win one game (1-0), losing the other by the same scoreline. They play hosts Cameroon in what should be a difficult fixture for them. They should end as 3rd with 3 points and are unlikely not make it as one of the four best third-place teams.
Ethiopia have conceded as many as five goals in their first two group games, scoring once in the process. They will most likely concede more against Burkina Faso and end in last place with 0 points.
Group B: Guinea, Malawi, Senegal, Zimbabwe
Guinea's record in Group B sees them occupying the second position after having beat Malawi 1-0 and drawn 0-0 with Senegal. They should win their final group encounter with Zimbabwe and finish as group winners with 7 points.
Senegal, like Guinea, has a record of a win and a draw after two group fixtures. Although currently leading the group, you can see them failing to win against Malawi in their final game and dropping to second position, finishing the group with 5 points.
Malawi will be pleased with themselves for snatching a 2-1 win in their second group game with Zimbabwe and getting their first three points of the competition. Although they play heavyweights in Senegal in the final game, they should get something for themselves and finish in third with 4 points. They should also qualify as one of the four best losers.
Zimbabwe is currently last in group B after having lost two of their first two group game. A defeat to Senegal, and another to Malawi. They should make it three in three when they play Guinea and finish last with no points.
Group C: Comoros, Gabon, Ghana, Morocco
After winning two games, scoring three goals and conceding none, Morocco have a perfect record while currently sitting at the top of Group C. They will come in for a stiff test in their final game against Gabon, but should get all three points again. They would end as first with all 9 points.
Ghana are third in Group C and are at the brink of being knocked out. Despite failing to grab a win against Morocco and Gabon, three points should come easy when they face Comoros. Ghana will end as Group C's runners-up with 4 points.
Gabon with a goal difference the opposite of Ghana, Gabon will rue swapping places with the Black Stars in their final game but have no choice as they fall to a defeat against a formidable Morroco. They should end in third with 4 points too, but qualify as the best loser.
Comoros have had little or nothing to show for their efforts at their debut AFCON, losing two and conceding three goals in the process. A third group fixture against Ghana is unlikely to be any different and as a result they should be relegated to fourth place with 0 points.