It's the final day of the AFCON group stage, and the tournament has saved the most intriguing set-up for last. Yes, today the world is full of possibility. Today we may see an actual drawing of lots to determine who from Group D goes through to the next round. But first...
The news from yesterday
Good news for fans of the Fennec Foxes (yes, some of us are unabashedly biased)! Algeria are through to the next round. But a bit of bad news as well: AFCON uses goal difference between the two teams finishing on equal points rather than goal difference overall, so Algeria wound up finishing second. Their loss -- literally -- is Ghana's gain, as it's the Black Stars that will play the team that finishes second in Group D.
Poor South Africa, though. They took the lead in each match they played, only to ultimately end up with a solitary point, earned against Senegal. But their last-placed finish in the Group of Death wasn't exactly unanticipated, and the Bafana Bafana can take heart from knowing their squad is starting to come together.
Many will also wish that Senegal could have made it through, possibly at the expense of, say, DR Congo, who qualified with just three points, all draws. The Lions of Teranga brought plenty of firepower with them, but in the end they simply couldn't find enough balance.
What to look for today
Little pieces of paper being drawn out of a hat! Well, we can hope, anyway. Some would say you should never cheer the possibility of teams advancing in a tournament due to the drawing of lots. Those people hate serendipity and, more importantly, hate fun. Ignore those people.
Really, though, it's hard not to argue that it's acceptable to allow a random two teams from Group D to progress. After four 1-1 draws, no side has managed to lay claim to the title of "better", never mind "best." After a disastrous World Cup, Cameroon are rebuilding, and not all of the kinks have been worked out. Ivory Coast's golden generation is fading away. Guinea couldn't keep a lead against ten-man Ivory Coast. And Mali, well, all along they've seemed content with holding their opponents to draws.
So go ahead and cheer the drawing of lots. What we need is for both games to end in an even scoreline. That can be 0-0 or 6-6. Obviously we'd prefer you back the 6-6 madness.
Standings, Group D
Thanks to Wikipedia for keeping these standings up-to-date
Schedule and how to watch, Day 12
Cameroon vs. Ivory Coast
Time: 1 p.m. ET
Venue: Nuevo Estadio de Malabo, Malabo
Watch: beIN Sports and beIN Sports Connect (USA and Canada); Eurosport 1 (where available); other viewing options available here
Guinea vs. Mali
Time: 1 p.m. ET
Venue: Estadio de Mongomo, Mongomo
Watch: beIN Sports Connect (USA and Canada); Eurosport 2 (where available); other viewing options available here