The group stage of the Africa Cup of Nations brought the elimination of Algeria, reigning champions of the competition. They started the group stage with a goalless draw against Sierra Leone. In the next match they started to make things very difficult for themselves, losing to Equatorial Guinea. And in the last match with the strongest opponent, Ivory Coast, they lost 3-1.
The participation of their star player Riyad Mahrez from Guardiola's City, Bennacer from Milan, Mandi from Villareal, and Youcef Belaili, currently without a team after terminating his contract with Qatar S.C. for scoring the winning goal in the Arab Cup, was of no use. Nor the experience of Yacine Brahimiy or Feghouli.
Against Sierra Leone, Algeria dominated, and Mahrez set up his team-mates with several balls that they failed to capitalise on. The second half was a cascade of chances, but not even Mahrez himself was able to score.
Against Equatorial Guinea it was more competitive, but their striker Bounedjah missed several clear chances. On the counter Guinea had some chances that made Algerian goalkeeper MBoli work hard.
From a corner Obiang took advantage, unmarked, to score the only goal of the match in the 70th minute.
Algeria was under pressure going into the final match of the group, having failed to score a goal. A draw might be enough for them, but they could not be conservative. It was up to them to beat the other big team in the group, Côte d'Ivoire.
Both teams were very cautious. No clear chances until the 20th minute when Bennacer's shot hit the post of the Ivorian goal. But the Ivorians responded with a great move to the by-line that Frank Kessie converted with quality.
Algeria was trying, but they were coming up against a good Ivory Coast defence. 39th minute, a free kick for Côte d'Ivoire which the Algerian defence defended very poorly and Sangaré headed in to take advantage of the Algerians' lack of marking. 2-0
The second half was the same. The impotence of Algeria and the good counterattacks of Ivory Coast. Mboli saved his team from the third. It was not until the 54th minute that Nicolas Pépé scored the third with a tight left-footed shot.
To make matters worse, their star player, Riyad Mahrez, missed a penalty in the 60th minute, hitting the post. Algeria kept trying and as a result of their efforts they scored their only goal of the tournament after a good combination that Bendebka headed home. A poor performance from the reigning champions, who were eliminated.
Another surprise was the elimination of Ghana and the qualification of Comoros in Group C. Morocco, as expected, qualified first in the group, but all the pools had Ghana in second place.
In the first match Morocco defeated Ghana 1-0. It was predictable. But the next matchday Ghana drew with Gabon and started to get complicated. The third match against Comoros went badly for Ghana from the start. After four minutes Comoros scored 1-0 on a counterattack and in the 25th minute Ayew was harshly sent off for a tackle on the Comoros goalkeeper in a goalmouth scramble. Ghana only needed a win to qualify after the draw in the previous match.
It was made more difficult when Mogni scored the second for Comoros in front of a passive Ghana defence. Boakye quickly reduced the deficit. From a corner, Ghana scored again through Djiku in the 77th minute to give them hope, but again Mogni in the 85th minute put Comoros ahead.
In group A Cameroon topped the group and Ethiopia were eliminated.
In group B Senegal topped the group and Zimbabwe were eliminated.
In group C surprise. Ghana's elimination with Morocco first.
In group D first Nigeria. Sudan and Guinea-Bissau eliminated. In the round of 16 Tunisia eliminated Nigeria yesterday.
In group E the big surprise. Algeria eliminated. Ivory Coast first and Sierra Leone also eliminated.
In group F Mali first, Mauritania eliminated and Tunisia already in the quarterfinals after beating Nigeria.
In the other round of 16 matches, Burkina Faso eliminated Gabon on penalties.
Today's games are Guinea-Gambia and Cameroon-Comoros.
Tomorrow Senegal-Cape Verde and Morocco-Malawi.
And on Wednesday, Mali-Equatorial Guinea and the main event, Côte d'Ivoire-Egypt.
The big favourites for the quarterfinals, apart from Burkina Faso and Tunisia who have already qualified, will be Cameroon, Mali, Senegal and Morocco.
The other two teams will be drawn from Guinea-Gambia and Côte d'Ivoire-Egypt. More evenly matched games.