2015 African Cup of Nations Preview
The 30th African Cup of Nations starts this weekend in Equatorial Guinea with 16 of the continent’s top teams battling it out to make the final on 8th February. Equatorial Guinea stepped in to host the finals when Morocco withdrew in November of last year due to fears of Ebola. Neither the current holders of the competition, Nigeria, nor the team with most wins, Egypt, managed to qualify for the finals which demonstrates the strength in depth of African football. Indeed, any one of ten sides is capable of winning this year’s tournament. In this week’s report we take a look at the groups and predict which teams will make the knock-out stage.
The hosts Equatorial Guinea are only here due to Morocco’s withdrawal and despite being hosts they are not expected to do well at all. Their co-hosts from three years ago, Gabon, are tipped to make it through especially as they have Borussia Dortmund striker Aubameyang in their line up. Burkina Faso, the Stallions, should also progress and they will be hoping to go one better after losing in the final last time out, while Congo’s inexperience at this level means they will probably miss out this time.
Group B is a little more difficult to call with 2012 surprise winners Zambia most people’s favourites to qualify. Tunisia knocked out powerhouse Egypt in qualification but the Carthage Eagles will find it difficult away from home, which leaves the DR Congo and Cape Verde pushing for second spot in the group – with my vote going to Cape Verde. Indeed, the Blue Sharks, as they are known, may surprise a few people and make the semi-finals – a possible dark horse of the tournament?
Not quite the group of death but Group C will probably be the closest of all the groups. Many people’s favourites Algeria will be hoping to continue their World Cup form when they reached the last 16 but they will be up against a resurgent South Africa, a dangerous Senegal side and Ghana. The Black Stars of Ghana are also among the favourites but they will find South Africa an extremely motivated side after their former captain and goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa was killed last year. Algeria will find it tough but I fancy them to go through along with South Africa.
It is hard to believe that the Ivory Coast, with all of their top players, have not won the African Cup of Nations for over 20 years and yet again they will be many people’s favourites despite the loss of Didier Drogba after his recent retirement. The Elephants will be up against Mali, Guinea and Cameroon who will be hoping for a better showing than their poor performance at the 2014 World Cup. The Indomitable Lions will be without Premier League stars Song and Eto’o but should still have enough to progress to the last 8 along with the Ivory Coast.
host nation: The country where the tournament takes place
battling it out: Trying to win
the strength in depth: There are many good teams involved in the competition
to make it through: To progress; qualify
to go one better: To become champions (after losing in the final last time)
miss out: To fail to qualify
group of death: The toughest group in a tournament
resurgent: Doing well again; back to their previous good form
I fancy them to go through: I tip them to progress
The Indomitable Lions: Nickname of Cameroon
still have enough to progress: Will be good enough to make it through
- BBC’s view on the tournament
- Wikipedia’s page on the African Cup of Nations
- The Guardian’s preview is here