With the final round of Africa Cup of Nations group matches under way in Cameroon, many teams, and fans alike, will be trying to figure out who will proceed through to the Round of 16 and who will be packing their bags to join Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Comoros and Mauritania on their way home.
Automatically, the teams who finish top and runners up qualify for the knockout stages of the biennial tournament – stage kicking off on Sunday. But out of six groups, that makes it 12 teams through, meaning to make the required number for the Round of 16, four more teams need to go through while the rest fall through.
As a result, the best four of the six teams who finish third in their respective groups will go through. This means even the team currently sitting bottom of the group log, can still have their fortunes turn around depending on their results, the number of goals they score and the number of goals they concede, in this round of matches.
On Monday, Cape Verde placed themselves at the top of the ‘Thirds Log’, with four points well-positioned to through depending on the results in the coming days. Malawi and Tunisia are following closely on the Blue Sharks, Cape Verde is known, on three points apiece, with Sierra Leone on two. However, the fat lady has still not sung on the fortunes of Ghana and Guinea Bissau, who have both only won a point so far, with the chance of making it four if they win their last matches, placing themselves as some of the possible four best thirds.
Beyond that, there will also be teams tied on the number of points and to separate who goes through or not, the Confederations of African Football announced that the first criterion to be looked at is the head-to-head (that is the previous results between the two teams tied on points), followed by the goal difference in all group matches in the event the two team previous played to a draw.
Below is the qualifying criteria as per the rules of the tournament:
In case of equality between two teams at the end of the group matches, the teams will be ranked according to the following criteria in the order listed below:
a) The greatest number of points obtained in the match between the two teams concerned;
b) The goal difference in all group matches;
c) The greatest number of goals scored in all group matches
d) A drawing of lots conducted by the Organizing Committee
In case of equality between more than two teams at the end of the group matches, the teams will be ranked according to the following criteria in the order listed below:
a) The greatest number of points obtained in the matches between the teams concerned;
b) The best goal difference in the matches between the teams concerned;
c) The greatest number of goals scored in the matches between the teams concerned;
d) If after applying criteria(a)to (c), two teams are still tied, (a) to (c) criteria are again applied to matches played between the two teams in question to determine the final ranking of the two teams. If this procedure does not allow separating them, the criteria listed from (e) to (g) are applied in the indicated order;
e)The goal difference in all group matches;
f)The greatest number of goals scored in all group matches;
g)A drawing of lots conducted by the Organizing Committee
Criteria of defining the best 4 thirds in the groups
The four best teams among those ranked third will be determined as follows:
a) greater number of points obtained in all group matches;
b) goal difference resulting from all group matches;
c) greater number of goals scored in all group matches;
d) drawing of lots by CAF Organising Committee