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Africa Nations Cup 2012 Preview

January 20, 2012 by Steve Amoia

Didier Drogba: History and Legacy Awaits
The 28th edition of the Africa Cup of Nations kicks-off on 21 January 2012 from the Western African nations of Equatorial Guinea and Gabon who are co-hosting the tournament. The first Africa Cup of Nations was held in Sudan during 1957, and the last event took place in Angola during 2010. The defending champion is Egypt; however, the Pharaohs - winners of the past three editions - surprisingly did not qualify for this edition.

History: Egyptian Excellence
Egypt holds the record for the most tournament wins with seven. Hassan Shehata, the former manager of Egypt, has won the most Africa Cup of Nations as a manager: three. The team in the current tournament with the most wins is Ghana at four; however, the Black Stars have not emerged as the victor since 1982. Another favorite in this tournament, Cote d’Ivoire, last won the Africa Cup of Nations in 1992. The Ivorians are also the team with the most previous appearances (18) from the current field of 16 teams. Ghana is close behind with 17 appearances, Tunisia and Zambia have 15, and Morocco has 14, respectively.

Egypt and Ghana have appeared the most times in the Cup final match - eight, respectively. Cameroon and Nigeria have the second-most Cup final game appearances with six, respectively (with both failing to qualify). The all-time record holder for goals is Samuel Eto’o of Cameroon with 18. (1)

Facts About Equatorial Guinea and Gabon
Equatorial Guinea is a small West African country approximately the size of the U.S. state of Maryland. It has a population of 668,225 as of July 2011. The country gained independence from Spain in 1968 after 190 years of colonial rule. Equatorial Guinea has a mainland along with five inhabited islands and is sub-Saharan Africa's third largest exporter of oil. (1a)

According to the official governmental website of Equatorial Guinea, Spanish is the official language; however, French and Portuguese are widely spoken. (2)

Gabon is slightly smaller than the U.S. state of Colorado and is divided approximately in half by the equator. The country gained its independence from France in 1960, and has a population of 1,576,665 as of July 2011. French is the official language of Gabon. (1b)

AFCON 2012Four Playing Venues
Equatorial Guinea
Bata: Estadio de Bata: Capacity: 40,000.
Malabo: Nuevo Estadio de Malabo. Capacity: 15,250.

Gabon
Franceville: Stade de Franceville. Capacity: 35,000.
Libreville: Stade d”Angondje. Capacity: 40,000.

Participating Teams
Sixteen teams will compete at this tournament. Groups A and B will play in Equatorial Guinea; Groups C and D will play in Gabon. Current global rankings, in parentheses, are courtesy of World Football ELO ratings. (3)

Group A
Equatorial Guinea (146)
Libya (83rd tied with Gabon)
Senegal (51)
Zambia (76)

Group B
Cote d’Ivoire (17)
Sudan (99)
Burkina Faso (75)
Angola (87)

Group C
Gabon (83rd tied with Libya)
Niger (118)
Morocco (64)
Tunisia (62)

Group D
Ghana (23)
Botswana (102)
Mali (80)
Guinea (149)

Tournament Coverage and Players to Watch
The Official Africa Cup of Nations 2012 site and the BBC Sport African Football site will have news items and match commentaries when the competition begins. SuperSport Football has a detailed site with full team information, news and complete rosters.

African football expert, @garylsmith, will provide tournament coverage from the event.

Group A
Equatorial Guinea: Nzalang Nacional
Rodolfo Bodipo (Deportivo La Coruna), Rui Fernando da Gracia Gomes (Logrones), Rolan de la Cruz Biyogo (Fortaleza), Narcisse Ekanga Amia (TP Mazembe, DR Congo), Danilo Emanuel (America, Brazil), Iban 'Randy' Iyanga (Union Deportiva Las Palmas), Jose Javier Balboa Osa (SC Beira-Mar), Juvenal Edjogo Owono (Sabadell), Ivan Bolado Palacios (Cartagena). (4)

Libya: The Mediterranean Knights
Samir Aboud (Al Ittihad), Djamal Abdullah (SC Braga), Abdallah Al Cherif (Al Madina), Rabee’a al Laafi (Club Africain), Younnes al Chibani (OC Khouribga), Djamal Mahamat (SC Braga), Ahmed Sa’ad (Club Africain), Muhammed Za’abia (Al-Arabi SC), Ahmed Zwei (CA Bizertin). (5)

Senegal: Les Lions de la Teranga (The Lions of Teranga)
Demba Ba (Newcastle United), Bouna Coundul (New York Red Bulls), Issiar Dia (Fenerbahce), Omar Daf (Brest), Mohamed Diame (Wigan Athletic), Pape Malickou Diakhate (Grenada), Souleymare Diawaka (Marseille), Cheikh Mbengue (Toulouse), Guirane N’Daw (Birmingham City), Moussa Sow (Lille), Armand Traore (Queens Park Rangers). (6)

Zambia: Chipolopolo (The Copper Bullets)
Rainford Kalaba (TP Mazembe), Francis Kasonde (TP Mazembe), Christopher Katongo (Henan Construction), Rogers Kola (Ashdod), Joseph Musonda (Golden Arrows), Kennedy Mweene (Free State Stars), Emanuel Mayuka (Young Boys), Fwayo Tembo (FC Basel), Justin Zulu (Hapoel). (7) (7a)

Group B
Cote d’Ivoire: Les Éléphants (The Elephants)
Barry Boubacar (Lokeren), Artur Boka (VfB Stuttgart), Souleumane Bamba (Leicester City), Seydou Doumbia (CSKA Moscow), Didier Drogba (Chelsea), Emmanuel Eboue (Galatasaray), Gervinho (Arsenal), Max Gradel (St. Etienne), Salomon Kalou (Chelsea), Didier Ya Konanm (Hannover 96), Siaka Tiene (PSG), Cheick Tiote (Newcastle United), Kolo and Yaya Toure (Manchester City), Didier Zokora (Trabzonspor). (8)

Sudan: The Nile Crocodiles
Ngemaldien Abdullah (Al Merreikh), Ramadan Alagab (Al Mourada), Siefaldien Ali (Al Hilal), Nazer Hamed (Al Hilal), Mohammed Sheikh Eldin (Al Hasahesa), Mouez Mohjob (Al Hilal), Mohammed Moussi (Al Nsoor), Mosab Omar (Al Merreikh), Alaadine Yousif (Al Hilal). (9)

Burkina Faso: Les Etalons (The Stallions)
Moumouni Dagano (Al-Khor), Daoude Diakite (KV Turnhout), Charles Kabore (Olympique de Marseille), Mahamoudou Kere (Konyaspor), Bakary Kone (Lyon), Djakaridja Kone (Dynamo Bucharest), Jonathan Pitroipa (Stade Rennais), Alain Traore (Auxerre), Bertrand Traore (Chelsea), Narcisse Yameogo (Camacha). (10)

Angola: Palancas Negras (The Sable Antelopes)
Amaro (1º de Agosto), Dede (AEL Limassol), Djalma (Porto), Flavio (Lierse), Gilberto (Lierse S.K.), Kali (1º de Agosto), Andre Makanga (Al Jahra), Manucho (Real Valladoid), Nando Rafael (Augsburg), Zuela (Atromitos). (11)

Group C
Gabon: Les Panthères (The Panthers)
Moise Brou Apanga (Brest), Pierre-Emenick Aubameyahng (Saint-Etienne), Remy Ebanega (US Bitam), Fabrice Do Marcolino (Laval), Bruno Ecuele Manga (Lorient), Cedric Moubamba (US Bitam), Eric Mouloungui (Nice), Didier Ovono (Le Mans), Andre Biyogo Poko (Bordeaux), Bruno Mbanangoye Zita (Dinamo Minsk). (12)

Niger: Menas
Mohamed Chikoto (Platinum Stars), Issoufou Alhassane Dante (Raja Casablanca), Kamilou Daoude (CS Sfaxien), Abdoul-Karim Lancina (Coton Sport), Moussa Maazou (Zutte Waregem), Souleymane Mazadou (Union Sportive Marignanaise), William Tonji Ngounou (IF Limhamn Bunkelflo), Boubacar Talatou (Orlando Pirates). (13)

Morocco: أُسُودالأطلس (Lions of the Atlas)
Karim Ahmadi (Feyenoord), Mikael Bassir (Bursaspor), Mehdi Benattia (Udinese), Younis Belhanda (Monpellier), Mubarak Bousouffa (Anzhi), Mehdi Carcela (Anzhi), Marouane Chamakh (Arsenal), Youssef Hadji (Stade Rennes), Abdul Hamid Kawthary (Monpellier), Hucine Kharja (Fiorentina), Nadir Lmyaghri (WAC), Noureddine Mrabet (Kaisaryspor), Bader Qadouri (Celtic), Oussama Saidi (Heerenveen), Adel Taarabt (Queens Park Rangers). (14)

Tunisia: Les Aigles de Carthage (The Eagles of Carthage)
Sami Allagui (FC Mainz 05), Khalil Chammam (Esperance), Lamjed Chedhoudi (Etoile du Sahel), Adel Chedli (Etoile du Sahel), Amine Chermiti (FC Zurich), Yasine Chikhaoui (FC Zurich), Fatah Gharbi (CJ Sfaxien), Karim Haggui (Hannover 96), Issam Jemaa (Auxerre), Ammar Jemal (FC Koln), Aymer Mathlouthi (Etoile du Sahel), Farouk Ben Mustapha (CA Bizertin), Mejdi Traoui (Esperance), Mohamed Ali Yacouh (Club Africain). (15)

Group D
Ghana: The Black Stars
Masawudu Alhassan (Genoa, Italy), Kwadwo Asamoah (Udinese), Andre Ayew (Olympique de Marseille), Jordan Ayew (Olympique de Marseille), Derek Boateng (Dnipro Dnipropetnovski), Asamoah Gyan (if he recovers from injury: Al-Ain), Adam Larsen Kwarasey (Stromsgodset), John Mensah (Lyon), Sulley Muntari (Internazionale), John Paintsil (Leister City), Prince Tagoe (Bursapor), Isaac Vorsah (Hoffenheim). (16)

Botswana: The Zebras
Mogogi Gabonamong (SuperSport United), Ndiyapo Letsholathebe (Police XI), Boitumelo Mafoko (Cape Town Santos), Modiri Marumo (Bay United), Moemedi Moatlhaping (Bay United), Joel Mogorosi, (Mochudi Centre Chiefs), Tshepo Motlhabankwe (Mochudi Centre Chiefs), Ofentse Nato (Gaborone United), Mosimanegape Ramohibidu (BMC), Diphetogo Selolwane (SuperSport), Mompathi Thuma (BDF XI), Onalethata Tshekiso (Rollers). (17)

Mali: Les Aigles (The Eagles)
Garra Dembele (Freiburg, Germany), Cheick Tidiane Diabate (Bordeaux, France), Drissa Diakite (Nice), Samba Diakite (Nancy), Soumbeyla Diakite (Stade Malien), Cedric Kante (Panathinakos), Seydou Keita (FC Barcelona), Modibo Maiga (Sochaux), Mouhamadou N'Diaye (Vitoria Guimarãesl), Bakay Traore (Nancy), Adama Tamboura (Metz). (18)

Guinea: Syli National (National Elephants)
Mamadou Bah (VfB Stuttgart), Dianbodo 'Bobo' Balde (Arles-Avignon, France), Jean Habib Baldé (Universitatea Cluj), Ismael Bangoura (Al-Nasr), Ibrahima Sory Bangoura (Djoliba), Lanfia Camara (WS Woluwe, Belgium), Boubacar Diallo (Spartak Tmava), Aziz Abdul Keita (Baraka), Ibrahima Traoré (VfB Stuttgart), Naby Yatara (Arles-Avignon). (19)

Fixtures, Dates and Times
All listed times are local, West Africa Time, which is UTC +1. (20)

Group A
21 January 2012: Equatorial Guinea v. Libya: 1930 in Bata.
21 January 2012: Senegal v. Zambia: 2200 in Bata.
25 January 2012: Libya v. Zambia: 1700 in Bata.
25 January 2012: Equatorial Guinea v. Senegal: 2000 in Bata.
29 January 2012: Equatorial Guinea v. Zambia: 1900 in Malabo.
29 January 2012: Libya v. Senegal: 1900 in Bata.

Group B
22 January 2012: Cote d’Ivoire v. Sudan: 1700 in Malabo.
22 January 2012: Burkina Faso v. Angola: 2000 in Malabo.
26 January 2012: Sudan v. Angola: 1700 in Malabo.
26 January 2012: Cote d’Ivoire v. Burkina Faso: 2000 in Malabo.
30 January 2012: Sudan v. Burkina Faso: 1900 in Bata.
30 January 2012: Cote d’Ivoire v. Angola: 1900 in Malabo.

Group C
23 January 2012: Gabon v. Niger: 1700 in Libreville.
23 January 2012: Morocco v. Tunisia: 2000 in Libreville.
27 January 2012: Niger v. Tunisia: 1700 in Libreville.
27 January 2012: Gabon v. Morocco: 2000 in Libreville.
31 January 2012: Gabon v. Tunisia: 1900 in Franceville.
31 January 2012: Niger v. Morocco: 1900 in Libreville.

Group D
24 January 2012: Ghana v. Botswana: 1700 in Franceville.
24 January 2012: Mali v. Guinea: 2000 in Franceville.
28 January 2012: Botswana v. Guinea: 1700 in Franceville.
28 January 2012: Ghana v. Mali: 2000 in Franceville.
1 February 2012: Botswana v. Mali: 1900 in Libreville.
1 February 2012: Ghana v. Guinea: 1900 in Franceville.

Quarterfinal Round
Q1: 4 February 2012: Group A winner v. Group B second place: 1700 in Bata.
Q2: 4 February 2012: Group B winner v. Group A second place: 2000 in Malabo.
Q3: 5 February 2012: Group C winner v. Group D second place: 1700 in Libreville.
Q4: 5 February 2012: Group D winner v. Group C second place: 2000 in Franceville.

Semifinal Round
S1: 8 February 2012: Winner of Q1 v. Winner of Q4: 1700 in Bata.
S2: 8 February 2012: Winner of Q2 v. Winner of Q3: 2000 in Libreville..

Third Place Game
11 February 2012: Loser of S1 v. Loser of S2: 2000 in Malabo.

Cup Final
12 February 2012: Winner of S1 v. Winner of S2: 2000 from Libreville.



References
(1) Africa Cup of Nations: History
(1a) CIA Factbook: Africa-Equatorial Guinea
(1b) CIA Factbook: Africa-Gabon
(2) Official Government of Equatorial Guinea
(3) World Football Elo Ratings: January 2012
(4) “Equatorial Guinea coach Paulo names 2012 Nations Cup squad”; BBC Football; 12 January 2012.
(5) “Libya reveal final Africa Cup of Nations squad”; BBC Football; 12 January 2012.
(6) “Senegal name Afcon squad’; SuperSport Football”; 27 December 2011.
(7) “Zambia names final Afcon team;” SuperSport Football; 10 January 2012.
(7a) “Coach Renard Pleased with Chipolopolo Progress”; Africa Cup of Nations; 3 January 2012.
(8) “Ivory Coast finalize their Africa Cup of Nations Team”; BBC Football; 11 January 2012.
(9) “Sudan name locally-based squad for Africa Cup of Nations”; BBC Football 12 January 2012.
(10) “Burkina Faso include Chelsea Teenager Bertrand Traore”; BBC Football; 11 January 2012.
(11) “Angola pick ex-German U21 player”; SuperSport Football”; 4 January 2012.
(12) “One brother in and two out of Gabon squad”; SuperSport Football; 11 January 2012.
(13) “Debutants Niger name Africa Cup of Nations Squad”; BBC Football; 11 January 2012.
(14) “Gerets Announces Atlas Lions Final Squad”; Africa Cup of Nations; 5 January 2012.
(15) “Esperance Dominate Tunisian Afcon Squad”; SuperSport Football; 4 January 2012.
(16) “Asamoah Gyan makes Ghana Squad for Nations Cup”; BBC Football; 12 January 2012.
(17) “Botswana Players Give Up Strike Action Over Bonus Row”; BBC Football; 9 January 2012.
(18) “Giresse unveils Mali squad for Africa Cup of Nations”; BBC Football; 12 January 2012.
(19) “Genoa star Kevin Constant will miss Africa Cup”; BBC Football; 12 January 2012.
(20) CAF: Fixtures-Africa Cup of Nations 2012


Steve Amoia is a freelance writer, book reviewer and translator from Washington, D.C. He is the publisher of World Football Commentaries and The Soccer Translator. You can follow Steve @worldfootballcm on Twitter.


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