So we are just 24 hours away from the greatest African showpiece of football. Okay, you might say using the word greatest is an overstatement when you consider that of the top 10 African sides on the Fifa World Rankings, 3rd placed Algeria, 4th placed Egypt, 6th placed Nigeria, 7th placed Cameroon, 8th placed South Africa and 9th placed Cape Verde will not be competing at this years event. That being said, the teams that did qualify, beat the abovementioned sides and deserve their place in the elite African competition. So as it seems, the stars are all aligned for either the Black Stars of Ghana or the Elephants of Ivory Coast to roar to a victory.
Lets have a look at each Group:
Group A – Equatorial Guinea, Senegal, Zambia and Libya
The hosts Equatorial Guinea could not have asked for a nicer draw. Being seeded meant they would avoid Ivory Coast and Ghana, but they definately would have wanted to avoid Burkina Faso, Tunisia and Morocco. They managed that and their home ground advantage will surely be enough to help them step through to the quarter finals. They are a team of relative unknowns and they will hope that it works to their benefit. The battle for the second spot will surely be between Libya and Senegal with Zambia merely making up the numbers. Senegal will have to rely on the form and ability of Newcastle duo Ciss and Demba Ba and hope that both reproduce the form they have shown for the clubs this season so far.
Gr0up A Player to watch: Papiss Cisse (Newcastle United) – They have just forked out 10 million for the Senegalese hitman and he comes with a reputation to back that! He has scored 37 goals in his 65 games for Freiburg at a ratio of just above 1 every two games.
Group B – Burkino Faso, Sudan, Ivory Coast and Angola
It was always going to be interesting to see who got who. The debate about group of death in this years Afcon, but that honour for me goes to Group B, this is as tough a group as the Ivory Coast side would have wanted. Burkino Faso are a good side and have produced some stellar displays over the past year but also courted controversy in the build up to the AFCON in fielding supposedly ineligible players against Namibia. Sudan qualified as one of the best runners up and had great practise in the qualifiers by playing Ghana. Angola qualified in a group featuring Kenya, Uganda and Guinea-Bissau. While they have the exciting Djalma from Porto, I can’t see them progressing in this group. And then we come to the number 1 ranked side in Africa, Ivory Coast. The star-studded lineup will feature the brilliant Yaya Toure, Cheik Tiote, Gervinho and Didier Drogba amongst others and they are my favourites to take the title this year.
Group B – player to watch: It can only be the African player of the Year. Yaya Toure has been immense for Manchester City this season and the Elephants will be hoping he can do the same for them!
Group C – Gabon, Niger, Morocco and Tunisa
This was a dream draw for Tunisia. They may have to negate a tricky tie against Morocco, but should have more than enough about them to give Niger and Gabon a beating. Of course Gabon will be sparred on by their home crowd and they are a talented side who gave Brazil a run for their money. The embarrassing thing about Bafana not qualifying is that Niger did in Bafana’s place. They are a weak team and won only one once in the last 15 months. Morocco can be a very dangerous side and have the ultra talented Adel Taarabt to call upon. That being said, he is also an ultra idiot. If they can also get Marouane Chamakh to deliver on the early promise he showed at Arsenal, they could be a very dangerous side.
Group C player to watch: Isaam Jema -the Auxerre striker has a fantastic goal scoring record for Tunisia and he will hope to increase on his 26 national goals. He was also the top scorer in the qualifiers. He hasn’t had the best of seasons for Auxerre so far and like Chamakh from Arsenal will look to improve his form at the Nations Cup.
Group D – Mali, Botswana, Ghana and Guinea
The black stars really have this chance to shine. This is the tournament that they have the best chance of winning. They have a very good side, the South African support and not the toughest group. Mali triumphed through on goal difference and head-to-head against Cape Verde, Guinea went through ahead of Nigeria and Botswana went through ahead of Tunisia. So three teams from this group out qualified top ten nations while the other is a tope ten nation. My bet will go on Mali to just shade out Botswana for second place in the group with the Black Stars to shine.
Group D player to watch: Surely it can only be Andre Ayew, the Marseille midfielder was unlucky not to win the African player of the year, however the 22-year-old has plenty of time and would love a match up with Yaya Toure in the final!
All Things Jabu has partnered with Samsung for this event. Click on the picture below to enter competitions to win all sorts of Samsung prizes. Also have a look around the Samsung Fansite at the link below and Get into the Spirit.