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Africa's biggest footballing disappointments of 2017

2017 was a memorable year in the African game, with Cameroon ending their considerable wait for a continental crown, and Issa Hayatou's long tenure as CAF chief coming to an end.

Ahmad Ahmad took the reins of the African game's governing body, while the likes of Mohamed Salah, Thomas Partey and Hakim Ziyech have seen their stock climb after fine campaigns.

However, it hasn't been a year of undiluted success and achievement, with many elements of the continent's game flattering to deceive.

In this feature, the KweséESPN team reveal their biggest disappointments of the last 12 months.

Dami Ugbane: The Ivory Coast

The Elephants were perhaps the most disappointing African national team in 2017, falling in the group stage of their Africa Cup of Nations title defence, and missing out on a fourth successive World Cup appearance.

Coaches Michel Dussuyer and Marc Wilmots -- both now departed -- must take some of the blame, but were they ever the right men for the role in the first place?

Despite parading a superb team on paper, with youngsters Eric Bailly, Serge Aurier and Wilfried Zaha supplementing more experienced heads like Gervinho and Salomon Kalou, the Elephants let their supporters down during a year to forget.

Maher Mezahi: North African violence

Violence continued to fester in North African stadiums in 2017 despite public condemnation.

Unresolved tension between ultra groups and security forces sucked the soul from Moroccan terraces, while an Algerian stadium-goer was stabbed to death just a fortnight ago.

Tunisian football offers no exception as they seem to be witnessing an unprecedented spike in violence as well.

Regional dialogue between footballing authorities, security personnel and supporter groups is desperately needed, as is an upgrade in infrastructure. 

Colin Udoh: Ahmad Ahmad's 'progress'

It is tempting, very tempting, to go with either of Ghana or Cameroon for their spineless World Cup qualifying campaign ill-befitting of two giants of the African game, but fortunately for them, they are trumped by politics.

New CAF President Ahmad swept into office on the back of a promise to reform African football, to lead it away from Issa Hayatou's leadership, and to provide a more dynamic governing body.

Nine months later, the pace has been so slow as to be virtually non-existent. To clarify, there has been plenty of motion, but without any significant movement.

Almost all of the promises have yet to be fulfilled, and CAF continue to grind along with the acceleration of a tugboat on land.

Michael Oti Adjei: AFCON Expansion

CAF's decision to expand the number of teams competing in the Africa Cup of Nations to 24 effectively means that just under half of the continent will be present!

My fear is that it will dilute the quality of the tournament and change its status as an elite event, therefore making it harder to market.

Even worse than this decision is CAF's call to introduce the expansion from 2019, placing significant pressure on hosts Cameroon to accommodate eight more teams.

Was anyone really thinking this whole procedure through?

Nick Said: South Africa

Bafana Bafana always promise much but tend to deliver little, and their 'new dawn' in 2017 was typically short-lived as they crashed out of contention for a place in the World Cup after back-to-back defeats to Cape Verde.

Two further losses to Senegal sealed their fate.

Simba Mushati: CAF's AFCON qualification reshuffle

CAF's decision to move the second round of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers from March next year to September to allow the World Cup-bound teams to prepare is a huge let down. The subsequent 15-month break between the first round of matches played last June, and the second round threatens to dampen the momentum of the campaign.

It's a development that was utterly unnecessary, as the March qualifiers needn't have prevented the World Cup quintet from preparing adequately for next summer's showpiece.

The benefits of this reshuffle are far outweighed by its inconveniences.

Ed Dove: Democratic Republic of Congo's World Cup wilt

Heading into their decisive World Cup qualifying double-header against Tunisia, the DRC needed just two points to retain the initiative in Group A and remain on course for a maiden World Cup showing since 1974.

It would have been an amazing achievement for local coach Florent Ibenge and his fascinating squad, pulled from the domestic league and the extensive Congolese disaspora abroad.

In the first leg, they enjoyed the better of the action but were unable to transform much of their dominance into goals and fell to a 2-1 defeat.

They made amends by taking a two-goal lead in the second match, only for Tunisia to respond in the final 13 minutes with two goals in the space of three minutes to take a giant step towards Russia.

The Carthage Eagles ultimately booked their ticket while, for this talented Leopards side, the wait goes on.


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