Match Togo Burkina Faso can 2013
A seemingly low-profile group actually contains a fair amount of pedigree with two recent quarterfinalists and the finalists from the previous edition of the competition. Equatorial Guinea and Gabon co-hosted the event in 2012 and both reached the last eight, while Burkina Faso's Stallions were underdogs in 2013 and finished second. They will all be wary of Congo's recent resurgence.
On current form, it should be a three-way battle between Congo, Burkina Faso and Gabon to see who progresses. They are ranked 15th, 17th and 18th on the continent, respectively, and should leave Equatorial Guinea, far below them at No. 37, in the dust. The hosts are only playing in the tournament by default and anything other than last place could be considered a bonus.
Congo will be favourites for the top spot, especially after they fought their way through a qualifying group which included defending champions Nigeria. But their inexperience at major tournaments - having last appeared at the continental cup 41 years ago - could allow one of the other two to sneak past. Both Burkina Faso and Gabon will be bullish about their chances of muscling their way through.
Equatorial Guinea: As co-hosts two years ago and solo stagers this time, football in Equatorial Guinea is spoken about more from an infrastructural than ability perspective, which may take pressure off the team as far as performance is concerned. This time they have plenty to worry about, especially after coach Andoni Goikoetxea's contract was not renewed on Dec. 31 - less than three weeks before kickoff - and they lost two warm-up matches to Portuguese clubs in the lead-up to the tournament.
Burkina Faso: The previous edition of the tournament familiarised fans with the likes of Alain Traore, Aristide Bance and Jonathan Pitroipa, and they will all be back for this edition. Apart from an exciting strike force, the Burkinabe have a strong defence and when the two work together, they can be as good as any of the big names on the continent.
Gabon: A late selection dilemma, which saw Marseille forward Mario Lemina turn down a call-up via Twitter marred the build-up for an outfit which has made steady progress since their strong showing in 2012. Bonaventure Sokambi was added to the squad and will be relied on to partner with the team's headliner Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in front.