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African Cup of Nations 2012: A Preview

In just over a week, the inhabitants of Equatorial Guinea and Gabon will welcome some of Africa’s most high profile footballers. Despite the absence of some of the continent’s strongest footballing nations, anticipation for the biennial tournament is still as high as ever.

Spectators will be hoping that between January 21st and February 12th, the football on show will be just as entertaining and unpredictable as the tournament’s qualifying turned out to be, where the likes of Egypt, Cameroon and Nigeria, who between them have won eight of the last ten tournaments, failed to qualify, and football minnows Niger and Botswana sealed their places for the first time in their respective histories.

The Ivory Coast and Ghana will go into the tournament as heavy favourites, with both sides boasting a plethora of talent currently plying their trade in Europe. The likes of Yaya Toure, Didier Drogba, Gervinho, Asamoah Gyan and the highly- rated Ayew brothers will all be expected to perform and take the trophy back home.
Morocco, Algeria and Angola will fancy their chances of continuing North Africa’s recent domination of the tournament, as will the 2004 champions, Tunisia, the only team participating in this year’s tournament to have won it since 1992, when Ivory Coast triumphed.

Senegal, beaten finalists in 2002, is arguably the dark horse of the tournament, and boast in their squad a strike force that could fire them to glory. Lille’s Moussa Sow and Papiss Demba Cisse of Freiburg scored nearly 50 goals between them last season. Add to this Newcastle’s Demba Ba, a player who has received a great deal of critical acclaim for his performances this season, and Senegal could well become African champions for the first time.

In the past year, much media attention to do with Africa has been to do with the political uprisings, where countries’ stabilities and futures have collapsed and nations’ vulnerabilities have been there for all to see. Hopefully, by February 13th 2012, the media attention will be due to the unforgettable festival of football put on. Africa deserves it.

Different thoughts and opinions on all of the 2012 African Nations Cup’s talking points are available on our dedicated African Nations Cup pages, sty tuned for updates through-out the tournament.

David Hastings

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