19 Jan 2013

GROUP A

African Nations: South Africa's Siphiwe Tshabalala takes on Algeria's Saad Tediar

South Africa

Previous best: Winners 1996. 

Manager: Gordon Igesund. South Africa's first major tournament with Igesund at the helm. A former prolific striker, he is the only man to coach four different teams to the Premier Soccer League championship. Key man:Siphiwe Tshabalala. The Kaiser Chiefs man, above right, will be a real handful for defenders, and was highly sought-after following the 2010 World Cup, where he shone in the opening game. 
Prospects: The hosts are up there with the stronger teams in the tournament this year, and will hope that home advantage will allow them to spring a shock

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African Nations: Manucho of Angola fights for the ball with Nagm Eldim of Sudan


Angola

Previous Best: Quarter-finalists 2008, 2010. 
Manager: Gustavo Ferrin. Took over from Lito Vidigal as coach in June, having taking his native Uruguay to the world championships at U17 and U20 level respectively.
 Key Man: Manucho, above left. Many Angolan hopes rest on the Valladolid forward's shoulders at the tournament, after his goals helped them to qualification.
 Prospects: It is Angola's fifth consecutive appearance in the tournament, but they'll do well to get out of what is a tough group

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African Nations: Younes Belhanda of Morocco attacks against Aymen Abdennour of Tunisia




Morocco

Previous Best: Winners, 1976; Runners-up, 2004.
Manager: Rachid Taoussi. Appointed in September on the back of a poor start to qualifying, he caught the eye after leading Moroccan club Maghred Fes to the African Confederation Cup title back in 2011.
Key Man: Younes Belhanda. The playmaker was voted the Best Young Player in Ligue 1 last season after helping Montpellier's to the French title. Chose to play for Morocco over France in late 2010.
Prospects: Morocco should be expected to better last year's performance at the very least, after crashing out at the group stage in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon

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African Nations: Cape Verde's forward Heldon listens to his national anthem


Cape Verde

Previous Best: Debutants
Manager: Lucio Antunes. The 46-year-old came up through the ranks as a coach of the national youth teams before being appointed in 2010, and is now receiving plenty of praise for guiding the Islands to this year's tournament.
Key Man: Heldon. The 24-year-old bagged a handful of vital goals in qualification, and has a Europa League goal to his name, after scoring against Club Brugge for Maritimo last month.
Prospects: They took some great scalps in qualification, but an opening game against the hosts could mean their tournament is over before it has really begun

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GROUP B 

African Nations: Egypt's Basem Ali fights for the ball against Ghana's Asamoah Gyan



 Ghana

Previous Best: Winners: 1963, 1965, 1978, 1982; Runners-up: 1968, 1970, 1992, 2010.
Manager: Kwesi Appiah. Has been an assistant to many national team coaches, and was caretaker manager shortly after the 2010 World Cup. Appiah is a former international defender with Asante Kotoko. Key Man: Asamoah Gyan, above right. The former Sunderland man missed a penalty with the final kick of the game, which ultimately cost Ghana a World Cup semi-final berth three years ago, and will be looking to return to form for his nation.
Prospects: Ghana will be fancied by many going into the tournament, but may fall short without the influence of Andre and Jordan Ayew
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African Nations: Momo Sissoko of Mali dives for a ball



Mali

Previous Best: Runners-up: 1972; Third: 2012.
Manager: Patrice Carteron. Named as Mali head coach in July, some will remember him for scoring in the Tyne-Wear derby, while others will point to his management at Cannes and Dijon in France.
Key Man: Momo Sissoko. Back in the squad after turning down several call-ups in the aftermath of a poor tournament in 2010, he could play a major part in his country's fortunes.
 Prospects: Mali surprised a few people by finishing third in 2012, and will be confident of reaching the knockout stages again this time
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African Nations: Niger's Moussa Maazou controls the ball in front of Gabon's Edmond Mouele


Niger

Previous Best: Group Stage.
Manager: Gernot Rohr. Took over the Niger job in September, having led co-hosts Gabon to the quarter-finals of the last Nations Cup, where they eventually lost on penalties.
 Key Man: Moussa Maazou. The powerful striker, above left, is Niger's best hope of goals, and has appeared for several European clubs, the last of which was Zulte Waregem in Belgium.
 Prospects: Niger lost each of their three group games in their only appearance at the Nations Cup last year, and are likely to suffer the same fate again this year

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African Nations: Tresor Mputu of DR Congo


DR Congo

Previous Best: Winners in 1968 and 1974; third in 1998.
Manager: Claude Le Roy. A veteran of the Nations Cup, after spells with several nations since 1986, when he coached Cameroon. Le Roy has never failed to get past the group stages as a coach.
 Key Man: Tresor Mputu. Certainly one to watch, after captaining his club to two successive African Champions League titles, before being banned for attacking a match official at a regional tournament. Prospects: Congo will be confident heading into the tournament, backed by Le Roy's Nations Cup experience, and they could ensure that there will be a real battle to reach the second round



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GROUP C 

African Nations: Zambia's Christopher Katongo holds the African Cup of Nations trophy



 Zambia

Previous Best: Winners, 2012; Runners-up, 1974 and 1994.
Manager: Herve Renard. The Frenchman is in his second spell as Zambia coach, and led the team to the Nations Cup title last year. Renard was subsequently named Africa's coach of the year.
Key Man: Chris Katongo. Lifted the trophy in 2012 after playing a big part in Zambia's success. Katongo has scored in each of the last four finals, and will need to perform again this year. [Fun fact - He was promoted to sergeant in the Zambian army after scoring a hat-trick in a Nations Cup qualifier against South Africa in 2007.]
 Prospects: Zambia provided the shock of the Nations Cup last year by winning the tournament, but will face a tough task in trying to defend their crown
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African Nations: Nigeria's Victor Moses

Nigeria

Previous Best: Winners 1980,1994; Runners-up 1984, 1988, 1990, 2000.
Manager: Stephen Keshi. He was captain of the side that last won the Nations Cup for Nigeria, and can now become just the second man to win the tournament as both a player and coach.
 Key Man: Victor Moses. The tricky Chelsea winger won his first Nigeria cap in February 2012 in a qualifier against Rwanda, and has since scored twice for the national side.
Prospects: Nigeria failed to qualify for last year's Nations Cup, and will be looking to atone for previous errors this year. They could stand an outside chance

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African Nations: Charles Kabore of Burkina Faso vies with Cheik Tiote of Ivory Coast


Burkina Faso

Previous Best: Semi-finalists, 1998. 
Manager: Paul Put. After being banned from his native Belgium in 2007 for match-fixing, the 56-year-old managed Gambia before taking over as coach of Burkina Faso in March.
 Key Man: Charles Kabore. The versatile Marseille midfielder, above left, will be vital for his nation at the tournament. After winning the French title in 2010, he has often been monitored by several European clubs. Prospects: Burkina Faso have only reached the second stage of the tournament once, when they hosted the event in 1998. They will struggle to do so again this year
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African Nations: South Africa's Morgan Gould vies with Ethiopia's Saladin Said

Ethiopia

Previous Best: Winners, 1962; Runners-up, 1957.
Manager: Sewnet Bishaw. The 60-year-old has managed a host of top clubs in his homeland, and has experienced two spells as national team coach.
Key Man: Saladin Seid. The 24-year-old, above right, was the top scorer in the Ethiopian league in back-to-back seasons between 2008 and 2009, before moving for a country record transfer fee of 240,000 dollars to Egypt in 2011.
 Prospects: Ethiopia are making their first appearance at the finals for the first time in over 30 years, and despite improvements, they are likely to crash out early on this year

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GROUP D

African Nations: Ivory Coast's Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou


Ivory Coast

Previous Best: Winners 1992; Runners-up 2006, 2012.
Manager: Sabri Lamouchi. Appointed as coach last May, Lamouchi is yet to be beaten in his first six games in charge.
Key Man: Didier Drogba. Twice a runner-up at the tournament, the former Chelsea man missed a penalty in last year's final. The elusive Nations Cup remains Drogba's final goal in football.
 Prospects: The Ivorians go into the tournament as clear favourites once again, and possess the squad to match expectation. Only a major slip-up would see them fail to reach the later stages

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African Nations: Tunisia's Issam Jemaa reacts after defeating Niger




Tunisia

Previous Best: Winners 2004; Runners-up 1965, 1996.
Manager: Sami Trabelsi. Following his success as coach of the 2011 African Nations Championship winning side, Trabelsi was rewarded with the national team role shortly after. He has featured for Tunisia at three Nations Cup finals.
Key Man: Issam Jemaa. Now playing in Kuwait, Tunisia's all-time top scorer (with 32 goals) will play for the national side at his fifth consecutive Nations Cup.
Prospects: Tunisia won the Nations Cup when they hosted the event in 2004, and will fancy themselves to fight it out with Algeria for second spot in Group D this year
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African Nations: Algeria's Sofiane Feghouli and South Africa's Dean Furman


Algeria

Previous Best: Winners 1990; Runners-up 1980.
Manager: Vahid Halilhodzic. The 60-year-old took Ivory Coast to the 2010 Nations Cup, but was sacked after an unexpected early exit. He was replaced by Sven Goran Eriksson ahead of the World Cup in South Africa.
Key Man: Sofiane Feghouli. Voted Algeria's Footballer of the Year for 2012, following impressive displays at national and club level, the creative midfielder, above right, is one to watch.
 Prospects: Undoubtedly a squad packed with promise, but Algeria's inconsistency means their tournament could go one of two ways
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African Nations: Togolese's striker Emmanuel Adebayor is congratulated after scoring


Togo

Previous Best: Group Stage.
Manager: Didier Six. Managed to lead Togo to the Nations Cup amid strikes and wage disputes. The 58-year-old was in the France squad that won the 1984 European championship.
Key Man: Emmanuel Adebayor. The Spurs centre-forward looks like he will continue to be Togo's main goal threat this year after finally being persuaded to take part in national team affairs, but will need help from those around him for the whole side to be effective.
Prospects: The controversy surrounding Togo ahead of the tournament won't have helped their preparations, and they'll be tipped to fall at the first hurdle after being placed into a tough group

CHANZO: The Guardian

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