Monday, January 21, 2013

WHO WILL WIN 2013 AFRICAN CUP OF NATIONS? By Kojo Owusu-Okyere


It is here again with us. The football calendar’s boss fixture in African football and sports as a whole”
FROM JANUARY 19th TO FEBRUARY 10th,many of us and supporters of the sixteen participating teams may feel the need of handcuffs for the emotion and a hobble for the pulse.
In all the long history of challenge in this tournament,where there have been a few occasion that held more mixed of excitement and very strong attraction than this three week tournament.
But if asked the question, “which country among the sixteen participating team will be the ultimate champion” ?. Most people would probably respond with something along the line of “the usual favourite or the underdogs ” can pull a big surprise to usurp the favourite to the trophy. However rather than going through to say ,it always turn out to be a pie in the sky.A typical example is what happened at the last edition which was held in Gabon & Equatorial Guinea,when an unknown and unfashionable Zambian side led by reining BBC African Of The Year,Christopher Katongo en route to the final pipped Ghana and went further to beat Cote D’Ivoire on penalties at final..
AFCON 2013 will be held over a 22-day period from the opening match to the final and the 16 team grouped into four groups will be based in five host cities _ Johannesburg,Rustenburg, Durban , Nelspruit, and Nelson Mandela Bay.
And as South Africa prepares to host the rest of African,something very special could draw my footballling thoughts away from this tournament ( which i don’t know what it may be )
Missing in The 2013 AFCON Picture
The traditional powerhouse of this great tournament will be missing in action.Teams like Egypt,who has won the tournament seven in total and four time champions,Camerroon will be watching the tournament from their respective homes.The Pharaohs who last won it three successive times in 2006,2008, and 2010 has failed to make it to the continents fiesta of soccer for two occasion and some have raised serious doubts about Egypt’s ability to compete again at the AFCON …
On the contrary,the Indomitable Lions Of Cameroon and the Teranga Lions of Senegal both failed to qualify for this year’s tournment.Both teams possess some of the finest and deadliest players on the continent,and now pressure is mounting on their coaches and players to qualify the team for the 2014 World Cup to held in Brazil…
A Preview of the groups ,matches to be played and teams squad
Host and winners of the 1996 edition,South African will be locking horns in GROUP A with Angola, debutant Cape Verde and 1976 champions Morocco, who will be participating in this year tournament for the fifteenth times.The host,South African will make their return after a four-year absence; as Angola will be making their seventh appearance,having previously been consistent for four consecutive times (2006,2008,2010,2012)..Debutant Cape Verde,popularly known as The Blue Sharks,who qualified at the expense of four time champions,Cameroon after a stunningly defeating them 3-2 on aggregate,following a 2-1 defeat to Cameroon at Yaounde,having won the home leg 2-0 in Praia..
GROUP A MATCHES ( To be played in Durban,unless stated otherwise )
19/01/13 : South Africa V Cape Verde
Angola V Morocco
23/01/13 : South Africa V Angola
Morocco V Cape Verde
27/01/13 : South Africa V Morocco
Angola V Cape Verde
PREDICTION: Although the luck of the draw favoured South African and Morocco,but Angola and Cape Verde will give them a run for their monwy.Failure would represent another nightmare fro Gordon Igesund man and football followers in Johannesburg and the nation.The Bafana Bafana Boys should fight their way all the way to the final,and at worst finish among the top four.
Elsewhere,Ghana, the four time champions are paired in GROUP B with the Eagles of Mali ,who were runners-up in 1972,The Menas of Niger and Congo DR who qualified at the expense of last year host,Equatorial Guinea. The Black Stars are back in business,their tails firmly up after last edition exit to Zambia.With four African titles to thier name,The Stars are a side accustomed to life at the top and have the talents ,strength in depth,the individual brilliance in key areas and the mental strength require to win Africa’s premier tournament..Mali, a squad as decent and highly experienced.The Eagles will be participating in their eighth appearance,having been consistent from the 2008 edition.They will be hoping to be champions for the first time ,after finishing third in the previous edition.For Niger,this will be their second successive appearance ( the first one in 2012 ) after beating Guinea in the qualifiers by 2-0..Former Black Stars coach,Claude Le Roy side,The Leopards of Congo DR will be in their sixteenth appearance .Cong DR returns to this year’s tournament after missing out om 2008,2010 and 2012 tournaments respectively.Since their last triumph in 1974,the Leopards have struggled to remain within the Africa elite,but will be a force to reckon with when actual hostilities begin in South African
GROUP B MATCHES ( To be played in Port Elizabeth unless stated otherwise)
20/01/13 : Ghana V DR Congo
Mali V Niger
24/01/13 : Ghana V Mali
Niger V DR Congo
28/01/13 : Ghana V Niger
DR Congo V Mali
PREDICTION: Having experience far more downs than ups in recent years ,the team seems to have finally come together,thanks largely to the astute management of Akwasi Appiah.The former Captain has given the Black Star’s a renewed sense of purpose but the biggest question seem to be whether or not the strikers have enough goals in them to carry Ghana beyond the group stage.Akwasi Appiah now faces the hardest task_guiding his team to their fifth Ntions Cup title.How far will DR Congo go?Not many will be surprise if they are on the first plane home,but it would be unwise to write them off completely.You can never say DR Congo are not contenders to win the Nations Cup,but the bottom line is that they will have to play out to their skin to deny both Ghana and Mali…
2012 winners ,the Chipolopolo’s of Zambia is sharing GROUP C with two time winners Super Eagles Of Nigeria, the stallions of Burkina Faso and the Walias of Ethiopia. The tormentor-in -chief of the previous tournaments will be coming in stronger this year to defend their trophy,like they shock the continent.But will face a sfiff competition from a Nigeria side,who will be leaving no stone ubturned.Nigeria missed the last edition held in Gabon-Equatorial Guinea,but did everything in their power to beat Liberia in a cagey encounter in Nigeria.Burkina Faso will be appearing in this tournament for the ninth time,following their abysmal performance in the previous tournament.So as Ethiopia,who qualified at the expense of Sudan.Thw Walias or the Black Antelopes is coming to this tournament after 31-years absent from the continent tourney.The 1962 champions will be making their tenth appearance.
GROUP C MATCHES ( To be played in Nelspruit )
21/01/13 : Zambia V Ethiopia
Nigeria V Burkina Faso
25/01/13 : Zambia V Nigeria
Burkina Faso V Ethiopia
29/01/13 : Burkina Faso V Zambia
Nigeria V Ethiopia
PREDICTION: New blood and fresh ideas have been introduced by Stephen Keshi over the past year or so as he looks to transform Nigerian football.So will Zambians,who will be coming in as a wounded lions to defend their title .So am expecting Keshi’s Nigeria and Herve Renard’s Zambia to seal through from this group.
One of the tournament favourite,Cote D’Ivoire,who last won the trophy in 1992 are GROUP D with the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia,who eventually won the 2004 edition,alongside The Desert Warriors of Algeria and the Hawks Of Togo. The Elephants,who runners -up in the last edition will be entering the tournament for the twenlfth time.They have always been tagged as favourite for the past four tournaments.The Ivorians will be the first to admit that they have under-performed for the considerable talents at the disposal,which each time much is expected of them and each time,they seem unable to deliver the goods.They have one of the best squad on paper but as someone said a long time ago,the game is played on grass.
The Carthage Eagles have not changed much and look even stronger and better prepared than they were during the last edition.Tunisia will be making their sixteenth appearance.One thing about them is,they have been consistent from 1994,making it to every tournament ,but has failed to land their hands on the trophy…..Algeria,who failed to make it to the last edition will be making their fifteenth appearance .Algeria were runners-up in 1980,but they finally landed their hands on the trophy after a thrilling 1-0 victory over Nigeria in 1990.They have the benefit of a squad that has played together more or less uninterrupted for some years.Togo,on the other hand,return to this year tournament after they withdrew from the 2010 edition .They will be making their seventh appearance ,having qualified after beating Gabon..
GROUP D MATCHES (To be played in Rustenburg )
22/01/13 : Cote D’Ivoire V Togo
Tunisia V Algeria
26/01/13 : Cote D’Ivoire V Tunisia
Algeria V Togo
30/01/13 : Algeria V Cote D’Ivoire
Togo V Tunisia
PREDICTION: One thing is certain ; Cote D’Ivoire will qualify from this group,but i am in a dilemma to choose who will qualify alongside The Elephants,when Tunisia and Algeria are in the same group.But i will stick my neck out to say Tunisia will join Cote D’Ivoire.But i don’t expect Tunisia to finish ahead of the Elephants,who are organised and are desperate to regain a place among the African football elite,and would certainly be gutted if they flew out on the first plane home.
GROUP A
SOUTH AFRICA
Nickname: Bafana Bafana
Best Cup of Nations: Winners, 1996
Manager: Gordon Igesund – A man well experienced in South African football, having managed nine club teams in the South Africa. 56-year-old Igesund, had an unremarkable playing career in Austria, and was appointed national team manager in June 2012. Known as a ‘fixer’, he has an established record of turning the fortunes of some teams around and has led four different teams to the Premier Soccer League (PSL) title.
Captain: Bongani Khumalo .
Squad:
Goalkeepers: Itumeleng Khune (Kaizer Chiefs), Senzo Meyiwa (Orlando Pirates), Wayne Sandilands (Mamelodi Sundowns)
Defenders: Siboniso Gaxa and Tshepo Masilela (Chiefs), Thabo Matlaba and Siyabonga Sangweni (Pirates), Bongani Khumalo (PAOK), Anele Ngcongca (Genk), Thabo Nthethe (Bloemfontein Celtic)
Midfielders: Reneilwe Letsholonyane and Siphiwe Tshabalala (Chiefs), Lerato Chabangu (Moroka Swallows), Kagiso Dikgacoi (Crystal Palace), Dean Furman (Oldham), Max Mahlangu (Helsingborg), Oupa Manyisa (Pirates), Thuso Phala (Platinum Stars), Thulani Serero (Ajax)
Strikers: Lehlohonolo Majoro and Bernard Parker (Chiefs), Katlego Mphela (Sundowns), Tokelo Rantie (Malmo)
MOROCCO
Nickname: Lions of the Atlas
Best Cup of Nations: Winners, 1976
Manager: Rachid Taoussi – Replaced Eric Gerets when Morocco embarrassingly lost to Mozambique in the first leg of their Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in September last year. His first successful task was to overcome that 2-0 deficit with a 4-0 home win to seal their place in the competition. Taoussi, 56, earned his appointment by taking Moroccan side Maghreb Fez to a historic triple of African Federation Cup, African Super Cup and the Throne Cup.
Captain: Nadir Lamyaghri
Squad:
Goalkeepers: Khalid Askiri (Raja Casablanca), Nadir Lamyaghri (Wydad Casablanca), Anas Zniti (Moghreb Fes)
Defenders: Abderahim Chakir (FAR Rabat), Abdelatif Nousseir (Moghreb Fes), Issam El Adoua (Guimaraes), Mehdi Benatia (Udinese), Zakarya Bergdich (Lens), Ahmed Kantari (Brest), Abdelhamid El Kaoutari (Montpellier)
Midfielders: Karim El Ahmadi (Aston Villa), Abdelaziz Barrada (Getafe), Chahir Belghazouani (Ajaccio), Younes Belhanda (Montpellier), Adil Hermach (Al Hilal), Kamal Chafni (Brest), Mehdi Namli (Moghreb Tetouan)
Strikers: Nordin Amrabat (Galatasaray), Youssef El Arabi (Granada), Oussama Assaidi (Liverpool), Abderrazak Hamdallah (Olympique Safi), Mounir El Hamdaoui (Fiorentina), Youssef Kadioui (FAR)
ANGOLA
Nickname: The Sable Antelopes
Best Cup of Nations: Quarter-finals, 2008 and 2010
Manager: Gustavo Ferrin – Ferrin, who is from Uruguay, replaced Lito Vidigal after Angola failed to get beyond the group stages of the Africa Cup of Nations last year. The motive in appointing him is to guide Angola to a second World Cup finals, following their appearance at the Germany tournament in 2006, and so this tournament should serve as a good yardstick.
Captain: Manucho
Squad:
Goalkeepers :Lama (Petro Atletico), Landu (Recreativo Libolo), Neblu (Primeiro Agosto)
Defenders :Amaro, Bastos and Dani Massunguna (Primeiro), Fabricio, Mingo Bille and Pirolito (InterClube), Marco Airosa (AEL Limassol), Lunguinha (Kabuscorp), Zuela (Apoel Nicosia)
Midfielders: Dede and Gilberto (AEL Limassol), Manucho Dinis (Primeiro), Manuel (Aviacao), Miguel (Petro)
Strikers: Djalma (Kasimpasa), Geraldo (Parana), Guilherme Afonso (Vaduz), Manucho Goncalves (Real Valladolid), Mateus (Nacional), Yano (Progresso
CAPE VERDE
Nickname: Blue Sharks
Best Cup of Nations: First tournament
Manager: Lucio Antunes – The island nation are into their first major tournament by Antunes who, in his three years in the post, has successfully find a group of players from a country with small population and got them to the finals.
Captain: Nando Maria Neves –
Squad:
Goalkeepers: Fock (Petro Atletico), Rilly (Mindelense), Vozinha (Progresso Sambizanga)
Defenders: Carlitos (AEL Limassol), Fernando Varela (Vaslui), Gege (Maritimo), Guy Ramos (Waalwijk), Josimar (Dordrecht), Nando (Chateauroux), Nivaldo (Academica Coimbra), Pecks (Gil Vicente)
Midfielders: Babanco and David Silva (Olhanense), Platini (Santa Clara), Roni (Fola Esch), Marco Soares (Omonia Nicosia), Stenio (Feirense), Toni Varela (Sparta Rotterdam)
Strikers: Djaniny (Olhanense), Heldon (Maritimo), Julio Tavares (Dijon), Ryan Mendes (Lille), Rambe (Belenenses)
GROUP B
GHANA
Nickname: Black Stars
Best Cup of Nations: Winners 1963, 1965, 1978, 1982
Manager: James Kwesi Appiah – After two successive Serbian managers, the Black Stars selected Appiah, who served as interim boss previously. A former left-back and captain for the national side between 1987 and 1992, he was given the top job in April last year.
Captain: Asamoah Gyan
Squad:
Goalkeepers: Daniel Adjei (Liberty Professionals), Fatau Dauda (Ashanti Gold), Adam Kwarasey (Stromsgodset)
Defenders: Harrison Afful (Esperance), Jerry Akaminko (Eskisehirspor), Mohammed Awal (Maritzburg Utd), John Boye (Rennes), Kissi Boateng (Berekum Chelsea), Jonathan Mensah (Evian), John Paintsil (Hapoel Tel Aviv), Isaac Vorsah (Red Bull Salzburg)
Midfielders: Albert Adomah (Bristol City), Anthony Annan (Osasuna), Kwadwo Asamoah (Juventus), Solomon Asante (Berekum), Christian Atsu (Porto), Emmanuel Agyemang Badu (Udinese), Derek Boateng (Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk), Mohammed Rabiu (Evian), Mubarak Wakaso (Espanyol)
Strikers: Emmanuel Clottey (Esperance), Asamoah Gyan (Al Ain), Richmond Boakye Yiadom (Sassuolo)
CONGO DR
Nickname: The Leopards
Best Cup of Nations: Winners, 1968 and 1974
Manager: Claude Le Roy


Captain: Tresor Mputu
Squad:
Goalkeepers: Robert Kidiaba (TP Mazembe), Bakala Landu (MK Etancheite), Parfait Mandanda (Charleroi)
Defenders: Jean Kasusula (Mazembe), Larrys Mabiala (Karabukspor), Chancel Mbemba (Anderlecht), Cedric Mongongu (Evian), Issama Mpeko (Vita Club), Landry Mulemo (Kortrijk), Gabriel Zakuani (Peterborough)
Midfielders: Dioko Kaluyituka (Al-Kharitiyath), Deo Kanda (Mazembe), Cedric Makiadi (Freiburg), Zola Matumona (Mons-Bergen), Tresor Mputu (Mazembe), Youssouf Mulumbu (West Bromwich Albion)
Strikers: Patou Kabangu (Mazembe), Yves Diba (Al-Raed), Domi Kumbela (Eintracht Brunswick), Tresor LuaLua Lomana (Karabukspor), Manzia Budje (Shark), Dieumerci Mbokani (Anderlecht), Luvumbu Nzinga (Rojolu)
MALI
Nickname: The Eagles
Best Cup of Nations: Runners-up 1972
Manager: Patrice Carteron – Sunderland fans will remember Carteron as the loanee who scored in the Tyne Wear derby of April 2001.
Captain: Seydou Keita
Squad:
Goalkeepers: Soumbeyla Diakite (Stade Malien), Mamadou Samassa (Guingamp), Aly Yirango (Djoliba)
Defenders: Adama Coulibaly (Auxerre), Idrissa Coulibaly (Lekihwiya), Ousmane Coulibaly (Brest), Salif Coulibaly (Djoliba), Fousseyni Diawara (Ajaccio), Mahamadou Ndiaye (Vitoria Guimaraes), Adama Tamboura (Randers), Molla Wague (Caen)
Midfielders: Samba Diakite (QPR), Cheick Fantamady Diarra (Rennes), Sigamary Diarra (Ajaccio), Seydou Keita (Aerbin Dalian), Mohamed Lamine Sissoko (Paris Saint Germain), Samba Sow (Lens), Kalilou Traore (Sochaux), Mahamane Traore (Nice), Sambou Yatabare (Bastia)
Strikers: Cheick Tidiane Diabate (Bordeaux), Modibo Maiga (West Ham), Mamadou Samassa (Chievo)
NIGER
Nickname: Gazelles
Best Cup of Nations: Round one, 2012
Manager: Gernot Rohr – Rohr managed Gabon at last year’s Africa Cup of Nations,when they beat Niger 2-0 in the group stages and signalled the beginning of the end for Niger’s French boss Rolland Courbis.
So, the 59-year-old German was brought in and he successfully booked his place in another AFCON with a win over Guinea.
Captain: Moussa Maazou
Squad:
Goalkeepers: Moussa Alzouma (Garde Nationale), Daouda Kassaly (Chippa Utd), Saminou Rabo (Sahel)
Defenders: Ismael Alassane, Kader Amadou and Mohamed Soumaila (Olympic), Mohamed Bachar and Luky James (AS Douane), Mohammed Chikoto (Marsa), Koffi Dankowa (Zarzis), Kourouma Fatogoma (Chabab)
Midfielders: Issoufou Boubacar (clubless), Karim Konate (clubless), Issiakou Koudize (Garde Nationale), Idrissa Laouali (Mangasport), Amadou Mountari (Le Mans), Williams N’Gonou (LB 07), Souleymane Sakou (Olympic), Babacar Talatou (AmaZulu)
Strikers: Kamilou Daouda (Saoura), Issoufou Dante (Wydad Fes), Moussa Maazou (Etoile Sahel), Modibo Sidibé (clubless)
GROUP C
NIGERIA
Nickname: Super Eagles
Best Cup of Nations: Winners, 1980 and 1994
Manager: Stephen Keshi – A Nigerian with 64 caps with the senior team.The former defender Keshi picked up the Super Eagles at their lowest ebb – when they failed to qualify for the Cup of Nations a year ago, for the first time in 26 years. He help Nigeria easily beating Liberia 8-3 on aggregate. Keshi has previously managed two other teams in this tournament – Mali and Togo.
Captain: Joseph Yobo -
Squad:
Goalkeepers: Chigozie Agbim (Enugu Rangers), Austin Ejide (Hapoel Be’er Sheba), Vincent Enyeama (Maccabi Tel Aviv)
Defenders: Efe Ambrose (Celtic), Elderson Echiejile (Braga), Azubuike Egwuekwe (Warri Wolves), Kenneth Omeruo (ADO Den Haag), Godfrey Oboabona (Sunshine Stars), Juwon Oshaniwa (Ashdod), Joseph Yobo (Fenerbahce)
Midfielders: Reuben Gabriel (Kano Pillars), Nosa Igiebor (Real Betis), John Obi Mikel (Chelsea), Obiora Nwankwo (Calcio Padova), Fegor Ogude (Valerenga), Ogenyi Onazi (Lazio)
Strikers: Sunday Mba and Ejike Uzoenyi (Enugu), Emmanuel Emenike (Spartak Moscow), Brown Ideye (Dynamo Kyiv), Victor Moses (Chelsea), Ahmed Musa (CSKA Moscow), Ikechukwu Uche (Villarreal)
ZAMBIA
Nickname: The Copper Bullets
Best Cup of Nations: Winners, 2012
Manager: Herve Renard – A hero after guiding the team to Africa Cup of Nations victory last time , beating Senegal, Ghana and the ivory Coast . He worked with the DR Congo coach Claude Le Roy – his mentor in the game -
Renard also managed the Zambian team between 2008 and 2010.
Captain: Christopher Katongo
Squad:
Goalkeepers: Daniel Munyau (Red Arrows), Kennedy Mweene (Free State Stars), Joshua Titima (Power Dynamos)
Defenders: Hichani Himoonde, Francis Kasonde and Stoppila Sunzu (TP Mazembe), Emmanuel Mbola (Porto), Joseph Musonda (Golden Arrows), Davies Nkausu (SuperSport Utd)
Midfielders: Isaac Chansa and Christopher Katongo (Henan Jianje), Rainford Kalaba and Nathan Sinkala (Mazembe), Noah Chivuta (Free State Stars), Felix Katongo (Petro Atletico), Chisamba Lungu (Ural Oblast), Mukuka Mulenga (Power Dynamos), William Njobvu (Hapoel Beer Sheba)
Strikers: James Chamanga (Liaojing Whowin), Emmanuel Mayuka (Southampton), Collins Mbesuma (Orlando Pirates), Jacob Mulenga (Utrecht), Jonas Sakuwaha (Al Merreikh)
ETHIOPIA
Nickname: Walya Antelopes or Black Lions
Best Cup of Nations: Winners, 1962
Manager: Sewnet Bishaw – In charge of the national team for a second spell, Bishaw has already exceeded expectations by qualifying for the finals for the first time since they won the competition in 1962.
They beat Sudan on away goals following a 5-5 aggregate scoreline.
Captain: Degu Debebe – The .
He is believed to have in the region of 40 international caps, putting him well on course to be the country’s most capped player.
Squad:
Goalkeepers: Sisay Bancha (Dedebit), Zerihun Tadele (St George), Jemal Tassew (Coffee)
Defenders: Abebaw Butako, Degu Debebe, Biadgelegn Elias and Alula Girma (St George), Berhanu Bogale, Aynalem Hailu and Seyoum Tesfaye (Dedebit)
Midfielders: Behailu Assefa, Addis Hintsa and Minyahil Teshome (Dedebit), Shimeles Bekele and Yared Zinabu (St George), Dawit Estifanos (Coffee), Asrat Megersa (EEPCO), Yusuf Saleh (Syrianska)
Strikers: Adane Girma and Oumed Ukuri (St George), Fuad Ibrahim (Minnesota Stars), Getaneh Kebede (Dedebit), Saladin Said (Wadi Degla)
BURKINA FASO
Nickname: The Stallions
Best Cup of Nations: Fourth place, 1998
Manager: Paul Put – The Belgian replaced Paulo Duarte in March last year after a grim performance at the last Cup of Nations which saw Burkina Faso lose all three of their group games. Put was in charge of Gambia at the time and made the switch to guide Burkina Faso narrowly past the Central African Republic in the qualifiers.
Captain: Moumouni Dagano
Squad: Goalkeepers: Daouda Diakite (Lierse), Germain Sanou (St Etienne), Abdoulaye Soulama (Asante Kotoko)
Defenders: Mohamed Koffi (Petrojet), Bakary Kone (Lyon), Paul Koulibaly (Dynamo Bucharest), Mady Panandetiguiri (Antwerp), Henri Traore (Ashanti Gold)
Midfielders: Charles Kabore (Marseille), Djakaridja Kone (Evian), Prejuce Nacoulma (Gornik Zabrze), Issouf Ouattara (Chernomorets Burgas), Jonathan Pitroipa (Rennes), Aly Rabo (Al Shorta), Florent Rouamba (Sheriff Tiraspol), Wilfried Sanou (Kyoto Sanga), Abdou Razack Traore (Lechia Gdansk), Alain Traore (Lorient)
Strikers: Wilfried Dah and Pierre Koulibaly (Al Dhaid Sharjah), Wilfried Balima (Sheriff Tiraspol), Aristide Bance (Augsburg), Moumouni Dagano (Al Siliya)
GROUP D
COTE D’IVOIRE
Nickname: The Elephants
Best Cup of Nations: Winners, 1992
Manager: Sabri Lamouchi – A young manager at 41, Lamouchi was a surprise appointment given he only retired from playing three years earlier The decision to appoint him was controversial, with many fans wanting a more experienced replacement for Francois Zahoui. But he is starting to win them over by guiding the Ivory Coast through a volatile play-off with Senegal, which descended into a riot.
Captain: Didier Drogba
Squad:
Goalkeepers: Boubacar Barry (Lokeren), Daniel Yeboah (Dijon), Ali Badra Sangare (Ivoire Academie)
Defenders: Souleymane Bamba (Trazbonspor), Arthur Boka (Stuttgart), Emmanuel Eboue (Galatasaray), Igor Lolo (Kuban Krasnodar), Siaka Tiene (PSG), Kolo Toure (Manchester City), Ismael Traore (Brest/FRA)
Midfielders: Max Gradel (Saint-Etienne), Didier Ya Konan (Hanover), Abdul Razak (Manchester City), Romaric Ndri Koffi (Real Zaragoza), Cheick Tiote (Newcastle), Yaya Toure (Manchester City), Didier Zokora (Trazbonspor)
Strikers: Wilfried Bony (Vitesse Arnhem), Didier Drogba (Shanghai Shenhua), Gervinho (Arsenal), Salomon Kalou (Lille), Arouna Kone (Wigan), Lacina Traore (Anzhi Makhachkala)
TUNISIA
Nickname: The Eagles of Carthage
Best Cup of Nations: Winners, 2004
Manager: Sami Trabelsi – Another young boss at 44, but one who has vast experience of the Tunisian set-up having won 52 caps for them between 1994 and 2001
Captain: Aymen Mathlouthi
Squad:
Goalkeepers: Moez Ben Cherifia (Esperance), Aymen Mathlouthi (Etoile Sahel), Farouk Ben Mustapha (CA Bizertin)
Defenders: Khalil Chammam and Walid Hichri (Esperance), Aymen Abdennour (Toulouse), Anis Boussaidi (Tavria Simferopol), Chamseddine Dhaouadi (Etoile), Fateh Gharbi (CS Sfaxien), Bilel Ifa (Club Africain)
Midfielders: Youssef Msakni, Khaled Mouelhi and Mejdi Traoui (Esperance), Haten Baratli (Club Africain), Oussama Darragi (Sion), Chadi Hammami (Kuwait SC), Wissem Yahia (Mersin Idman Yurdu)
Strikers: Zouheir Dhaouadi (clubless), Hamdi Harbaoui (Lokeren), Issam Jomaa (Kuwait SC), Wahbi Khazri (Bastia), Saber Khlifa (Evian), Fakreddine Ben Youssef (Sfaxien)
ALGERIA
Nickname(s): Fennec Foxes, Desert Warriors
Best Cup of Nations: Winners, 1990
Manager: Vahid Halilhodzic – Veteran Bosnian manager who has seen and done it all in his managerial career and beat off some strong contenders when appointed Algerian coach in June 2011.
He enjoyed success previously with the Ivory Coast, taking them to the World Cup in South Africa but suffering the ignominy of the sack four months before the tournament.
Captain: Medhi Lacen
Squad:
Goalkeepers: Azzeddine Doukha (Harrach), Rais Mbolhi (Krylia Sovetov), Cedric Si Mohammed (Bejaia)
Defenders: Essaïd Belkalem and Ali Rial (JS Kabylie), Carl Medjani and Mehdi Mostefa (Ajaccio), Liassine Cadamuro (Real Sociedad), Faouzi Ghoulam (Saint-Etienne), Rafik Halliche (Academica), Djamel Mesbah (AC Milan)
Midfielders: Hameur Bouazza (Racing Santander), Ryad Boudebouz (Sochaux), Sofiane Feghouli (Valencia), Adlene Guedioura (Nottingham Forest), Foued Kadir (Marseille), Medhi Lacen (Getafe), Khaled Lemmouchia (Club Africain), Saad Tedjar (USMA)
Strikers: Mohamed Aoudia (Entente Setif), Yacine Bezzaz (CS Constantine), Islam Slimani (Belouizdad), Hilal Soudani (Guimares)
TOGO
Nickname: The Sparrow Hawks
Best Cup of Nations: First round, 1972, 1984, 1998, 2000, 2002 and 2006
Manager: Didier Six – Remembered as the left-sided player from the all-conquering French side of the early eighties, Six won the European Championships in 1984 and played in the 1978 and 1982 World Cups. Has had two managerial posts – 25 years apart: Strasbourg briefly in 1986 and then Togo from 2011 to present.
Captain: Emmanuel Adebayor
Squad:
Goalkeepers: Mawugbe Atsou (Maranatha), Baba Tchagouni (Dijon)
Defenders: Serge Akakpo (Zilina), Sadat Ouro-Akoriko (Free State Stars), Vincent Bossou (Navibank), Djene Dakonam (Coton Sport), Donou Kokou (Maranatha), Abdoul-Gafar Mamah (Dacia), Senah Mango (Marseille), Dare Nibombe (Boussou Dur Borinage)
Midfielders: Kodjo Ametepe (Maranatha), Komlan Amewou (Nimes), Sapol Mani (Batna), Moustapha Salifou (clubless), Prince Segbefia (Auxerre), Dove Wome (Free State Stars)
Strikers: Kalen Damessi (Lille), Thomas Dossevi (Chonburi), Serge Gakpe (Nantes), Fessou Placa (Agaza), Emmanuel Adebayor (Tottenham)
By : Kojo Owusu-Okyere

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