I recently saw Sierra Leone beat Gabon in the qualifying competition for the African Cup of Nations 2017. Gabon and Sierra Leone are in qualifying group I.

But Gabon are the hosts of AfCON 2017, so they get automatic qualification.

How does this work?

  1. Why are Gabon in the qualifiers, if they have already qualified?
  2. Can any other teams qualify from group I?
  3. Are qualifying games against Gabon the same as any other qualifying game?

I've looked on the official AfCON site but it seems to treat Gabon like any other team in the qualifiers, and I can't find any explanation elsewhere.

I read on a Sierra Leone news site that points against Gabon don't count:

The match was part of the 2017 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) group I qualifying schedule but didn’t count towards qualification as Gabon are hosting the finals in January

...but that appears to be contradicted by the official table, which does include Sierra Leone's three points from beating Gabon:

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So I'm confused about how this works. Can no-one else qualify from group I? Or are the Gabon-related points deducted and the highest-finishing team excluding Gabon qualifies? Or was the Sierra Leone news site wrong and it's simply the top team in the Group I (excluding Gabon) who qualify? Or something else?

And why are Gabon in a qualifying group in the first place when they have automatic qualification?

2 Answers 2


Gabon national team is qualified because of nation host.

The team was insert in Group I and has played friendly against other team of the same Group

Wikipedia has insert Gabon in the Group A of qualified teams: The host nation team will also be drawn into a group and will play games against those in that group; however, these matches will only be considered as friendlies and not counted for the standings.

Qualification criteria are:

  • the winner team for each Group will be qualified for AFC2017
  • the two best second teams for each 4-team composed Group (so not group I and group G) can be qualified by rankings
  • Yes, I know Gabon have automatic qualification as hosts. That's why I'm asking the question! AfCON seem to be treating Gabon's qualifying games as official games (see the table), so my question is what happens to the other teams in group I, can they still qualify, etc? Commented Mar 30, 2016 at 14:22
  • 2
    Group I is formally considered by 3 teams: Cote d'Ivorie Sudan and Sierra Leone: the first one will be qualified for AFC2017 tournament
    – Ale
    Commented Mar 30, 2016 at 14:27
  • So are you saying the official table is wrong?
    – Philip Kendall
    Commented Mar 31, 2016 at 7:33
  • 2
    @PhilipKendall It seems impossible to believe, but in my opinion this official table is wrong. As soon as I can I will search other sources to confirm that
    – Ale
    Commented Mar 31, 2016 at 8:10

The official table as it stands without Gabon. So the highest ranked team out of the 3 remaining countries Ivory Coast, Sudan & Sierra Leone will qualify for AFCON 2017.

  • 2
    Welcome to SE.Sport. This reply seems do not add any info to the previus one
    – Ale
    Commented Jun 14, 2016 at 5:46

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