The countdown to the 2017 edition of WAFU Cup of Nations has began.

The West African regional football tournament is set to be staged in Ghana from September 9 to 24 of, and would feature only players based on the continent.

According to a statement released by the West African Football Union, This year’s tournament will see 16 teams from West Africa competing for the trophy, with a first round of knockout matches set-to-be followed by a group stage (two pools of four teams each), semifinals, third-place playoff and a final.

This will also be the first tournament to be staged as part of a 12-year partnership agreementbbetween Fox Sports and the West African Football Union.

Ghana, as both hosts and defending champions (they won the last tournament in 2013, also on home soil), will enter the 2017 edition as the favourites, though they face a potential banana skin in the first round against the Gambia.

The other heavyweights in the tournament also pose a serious threat; teams such as Nigeria, Senegal and Ivory Coast, are very strong contenders and the two-week tournament is set to see some upsets in the early stages.

Guinea showed a lot of heart when they ousted Senegal in the recent qualifiers for the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) and will come to the tournament full of confidence and in good form.

The same can be said of Mauritania and Burkina Faso, the surprise winners over Mali and Ghana respectively in the 2018 CHAN preliminaries.

It will also be a competition full of promising up-and-comers players, with eyes on Ghana’s Winful Cobbinah, Burkinabe attacker Mohamed Sylla, Mauritania’s Abdoulaye Gaye and Sekou Amadou Camara of Guinea all hoping to catapult to stardom at the 2017 WAFU Cup of Nations.

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Source: GNA/NewsGhana.com.gh