Page last updated at: Wed, 25 January 2012 11:09 AM GMT Printable version

Africa Cup of Nations 2012

by Harry Mills

Didier Drogba

The 28th Africa Cup of Nations is hosted this year by Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.

With former champions Egypt failing to qualify for this year’s event, the door is open for a new name to take the glory.

Arts London News assesses each team’s prospects:

GROUP A

EQUATORIAL GUINEA

Nzalang Nacional make their debut in the competition having earned automatic qualification through hosting rights. Equatorial Guinea is the lowest ranked team in the competition, sitting at No 150 in the official FIFA rankings. Striker Rodolfo Bodipo is the captain of the team and plies his trade for Spanish side Deportivo de La Coruña in the Segunda División. He poses the biggest threat for the outsiders.

Odds: 100/1 -- Prediction: Group Stage

LIBYA

 Libya's footballing success has been overshadowed by the recent state of political affairs in the country and the North African outfit head into the tournament representing a new democratic state. The Mediterranean Knights qualified for the competition as best runner-up, remaining unbeaten en route. This will be their third appearance at the African Cup of Nations and are likely to rely on the quality of Club Africain attacker Ahmed Sa'ad and Braga midfielder Djamal Mahamat to steer them through a tricky group.

Odds: 33/1 -- Prediction: Group Stage

SENEGAL

Senegal breezed through their qualifying group, brushing aside African giants Cameroon along the way. Conflict surrounding the contract of manager Amara Traoré has been resolved with the Senegalese Minister of Sport, Abdoulaye Makhtar Diop, making an official announcement that there will be no political interference with team selection.

Les Lions de la Teranga boast a squad of established European based players who will be looking to make amends for their recent disappointing efforts on the international front. Senegal will hope Newcastle United striker Demba Ba can continue his current vein of form that has seen him score 15 league goals at the midway point of the season.

Odds: 11/2 -- Prediction: Winners

ZAMBIA

Zambia edged out Libya in qualifying to win the group and compete in their fifth consecutive Cup of Nations. This competition will have deep sentiment to Chipolopolo following a tragic plane crash that saw the entire Zambian national team killed when the plane plummeted into the ocean off the coast of Gabon in 1993.

Orlando Pirates star Isaac Chansa will pull the strings in midfield as Zambia look to improve on the 2010 quarter final defeat on penalties to Nigeria.

Odds: 50/1 -- Prediction: Quarter-final

 

GROUP B

COTE D’IVOIRE

The Elephants come into the tournament as clear favorites after cruising through their qualifying group. They won all six games, scoring 18 goals along the way and are blessed with an abundant amount of talent. Cote D’Ivoire are amongst the biggest underachievers in African football having last won the competition back in 1992. In Chelsea’s Didier Drogba and Manchester City’s Yaya Toure, they have two of European football’s finest, capable of having a huge influence on matches. This could be Drogba’s last tournament so he would want to go out on a high. 

Odds: 13/8 -- Prediction: Runners-up

SUDAN

Sudan enter the 2012 AFCONS having qualified as best runner-ups in their group finishing just behind Ghana. The Desert Hawks like many African nations have suffered from internal strife and this will be the first time Sudan has played in this tournament since the formation of South Sudan. Having finished third in 2011’s Council for East and Central Africa Football Associations (CECAFA) Cup, they will be looking to start off 2012 by making an impact at this year’s AFCONS.

Odds: 66/1 -- Prediction: Group Stage

BURKINA FASO

The Stallions sailed through a rather straightforward qualifying group containing only three teams after Mauritania withdrew. Burkina Faso has only made it past the group stages once in 1998 and this year will present a great chance to get through to the knockout stages again. They sealed qualification last month after Namibia’s appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport about the eligibility of defender Herve Zengue was subsequently dismissed.

Odds: 20/1 -- Prediction: Group Stage

ANGOLA

Previous hosts Angola sneaked through their qualifying group just in front of an ever improving Uganda side. Equipped with dangerous strikers in Lierse S.K’s Flavio and former Manchester United and current Real Vallodollid hitman Manucho, the ‘Palancas Negras’ have the calibre to surpass their two consecutive quarter-final appearances.

Odds: 40/1 -- Prediction: Quarter-final

 

GROUP C

GABON

Gabon compete in their second consecutive Cup of Nations, qualifying as co-hosts alongside Equatorial Guinea. The Panthers caused one of the biggest upsets in 2010 beating Cameroon 1-0 in the group stages. Former Rangers and Hull City striker, Daniel Cousin will play a part in the event and he is joined by four of the Gabon under 23 side who won the African Championship and qualified for the Olympic Games in London later on in the year.

Odds: 25/1 -- Prediction: Group Stage

NIGER

Debutants Niger progressed through arguably the most challenging qualifying group seeing off competition from South Africa and current champions Egypt. Orlando Pirates recent signing Boubacar Talatou will carry a threat from midfield and Moussa Maazou, who is on the books of CSKA Moscow, leading the strike force.

Odds: 100/1 -- Prediction: Group Stage

MOROCCO

The Atlas Lions saw off threat from neighbours Algeria to reach this year’s AFCONS. Morocco, usually a threat on the African continent have struggled in recent times, failing to qualify for the tournament in 2010 and stumbling in the group stages in 2006 and 2008. The omission of out of favour Ajax striker Mounir El Hamdaoui leaves Arsenal’s Marouane Chamakh leading the line with QPR prima donna Adel Taarabt acting as the conductor in midfield.

Odds: 15/2 -- Prediction: Semi-final

TUNISIA

Tunisia ensured qualification as runner-up to Botswana in their group to appear for a tenth consecutive time at the AFCONS. The 2004 champions were the last team to win the competition before Egypt’s dominance at the previous three tournaments. Auxerre striker Issam Jemâa was top scorer in qualifying netting six vital goals and The Eagles of Carthage will be hoping he can match that feat.

Odds: 10/1 -- Prediction: Quarter-final

 

GROUP D

GHANA

The Black Stars have emerged out of the shadows to establish themselves as one of the forces of African football over the past seven years. The 2010 runners-up qualified with ease remaining unbeaten along the way. Ghana will be without Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien, but Al-Ain striker Asamoah Gyan has been named in the squad despite an injury scare. Unfortunately, Kevin Prince Boateng has decided not to reverse his decision to retire from international football at the age of 24 and will therefore not be at the tournament.

Odds: 4/1 -- Prediction: Semi-final

BOTSWANA

The Zebras topped a competitive qualifying group seeing off competition from the likes of Tunisia and Togo. Botswana will be making their debut at the AFCONS but the omission of Botswana Player of the Season Edwin Olerile has raised doubts among the faithful about the team’s hopes in the tournament.

Odds: 100/1 -- Prediction: Group Stage

MALI

The Eagles will be looking to improve on their last two showings at the AFCONS by progressing through the group stages. They qualified, just seeing off Cape Verde due to a better head-to-head record with Cheick Diabaté scoring four goals along the way. Much sought after Sochaux forward Modibo Maiga will be under the spotlight as he looks to fire Mali its first ever AFCONS triumph.

Odds: 20/1 -- Prediction: Quarter-final

GUINEA

Guinea dispatched of African heavyweights Nigeria to reach this year’s AFCONS. Managed by former Benin coach Michael Dussuyer, The National Elephants will fancy themselves to make a strong impact in the competition. They have been rocked by the withdrawal of Genoa midfielder Kevin Constant, who is thought to seek a move to Lazio during the January transfer window.

Odds: 25/1 -- Prediction: Group Stage


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