Johannesburg (AFP) – Title-holders Ivory Coast, hosts Gabon and former champions Algeria and Ghana were named Tuesday as the top seeds for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations tournament.
Ivory Coast defeated four-time champions Ghana after a penalty shootout in Equatorial Guinea last year to win the African football showpiece a second time.
Algeria conquered Africa when they hosted the biennial competition in 1990 while the quarter-finals is the furthest Gabon have progressed.
Gabon, co-hosts of the 2012 Cup of Nations with Equatorial Guinea, stage the 2017 finals from January 14 to February 5 in Libreville, Franceville, Port Gentil and Oyem.
Libreville, capital of the small, oil-rich central African state, hosts the October 19 draw that will split the 16 contenders into four groups with winners and runners-up securing quarter-finals places.
While three former champions, Nigeria, South Africa and Zambia, are notable absentees, the third seeds for Gabon illustrate the strength of the line-up.
Record seven-time champions Egypt, Cameroon and Morocco have lifted the trophy and Senegal lost on penalties in the 2002 final.
All four countries are potential 2017 champions, as are second seeds Tunisia, Mali and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The lowest seeds include first-time qualifiers Guinea-Bissau, shock winners of a qualifying group that included Congo Brazzaville, Kenya and Zambia.
Pot 1: Gabon, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Algeria
Pot 2: Tunisia, Mali, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo
Pot 3: Cameroon, Senegal, Morocco, Egypt
Pot 4: Togo, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Guinea Bissau