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?
- Why are Gabon in the qualifiers, if they have already qualified?
- Can any other teams qualify from group I?
- 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.
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:
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?