African Cup of Nations: Group-by-group preview

A closer look at the teams and star players taking part in South Africa

The 2013 African Cup of Nations gets underway this Saturday when hosts South Africa take on Cape Verde at the National Stadium in Johannesburg.

Ahead of that match, we take a group-by-group look at the teams involved...

 

GROUP A

South Africa

Cape Verde

Morocco

Angola

Host nation South Africa will be hoping to add to their single African Cup of Nations win, in what will be there eighth appearance at the championships. The last time the Bafana Bafana hosted the competition they won it back in 1996, defeating Tunisia 2-0 in the final, courtesy of two goals from former Wolverhampton Wanderers man Mark Williams who had a brief stint at the club. However, the hosts will be without star man Stephen Pienaar who retired from international football just three months prior to this tournament.

Their biggest rivals in Group A will be the highly rated Moroccans who were runners up in 2004 but have seen a resurgence of form under coach Rachid Taoussi. They had to overcome a 2-0 deficit away leg to Mozambique in the final qualifying match, in which they won the home leg 4-0 to qualify. Coach Taoussi has a number of current top flight, European personnel at his disposal which includes Karim El Ahmadi of Aston Villa, Udinese defender Mehdi Benatia and former Tottenham hotspur, now current Fiorentina striker, Mounir El Hamadaoui.

Cape Verde will compete in their first African Cup of Nations finals, having managed to dismantle giants Cameroon 3-2 on aggregate during qualification. Winger Ryan Mendes is their wildcard, who could potentially disrupt a few defences in the group. At 22, Mendes scored three goals during qualifying and his club performances for french team Le Havre were recognised by Lille who he signed for in 2012.

The final side to make up Group A are Angola. They have been twice quarter-finalists in the competition but never any further. Their main goal threat will come from former Manchester United striker Manucho who has an impressive record of 21 goals in 38 matches for the Angolans. If they are to proceed into the quarter-finals once more, he will have to be on top form.

 

GROUP B

Ghana

Niger

DR Congo

Mali

Ghana go into Group B as widely tipped favourites to win their group and are serious contenders to win the tournamnet. The 'Black Stars' have a pool of talent available at their disposal including the likes of Asamoah Gyan, John Pantsil, John Mensah who all have Premier League experience as well as Derek Boateng who is on the verge of a move to Fulham. However, star men, Michael Essien, Sulley Muntari and Andre Ayew have all been axed from the squad.

Fighting for second are likely to be Mali and Congo DR. Both sides have an abundance of pace and power in their sides. Mali have Premier league duo Modibo Maiga and Samba Diakite, from West ham and QPR respectively, are in their final 23 man squad but an injury to former captain and Fulham midfielder Mahamadou Diarra will be a blow. Despite not playing for over two-years, former Liverpool and Juventus ace Momo Sissoko did make the 23 man cut. Congo will be resting their hopes of success on maverick captain Tresor Mputu, he was once banned for 12 months for physically assaulting a referee, playing for Congo.

Niger qualified for their first finals last year and will be hoping to go one better this time out and make it out of the group stage.

 

GROUP C

Nigeria

zambia

Ethiopia

Burkina Faso

Nigeria dominate group C on paper but this is a very open group in reality. They are SIX-times AFCON finalists but have only won it twice. They have Chelsea team mates John Obi Mikel and Victor Moses in their 23 man squad as well as former Everton defender Joseph Yobo. Coach Stephen Keshi took over the 'Super Eagles' in 2011 after failing to qualify for the 2012 tournament. Keshi has implemented a mixture of young local talent to older experienced players to create the perfect mix which are hopeful to be crowned champions yet again.

Zambia are the current holders of the trophy after beating the Ivory Coast in a thrilling 8-7 penalty shoot-out win. They only just squeezed into the finals this year with yet another penalty shoot-out victory, this time being run to the wire by Uganda. Emmanuel Mayuka, 21, currently plays for Premier League outfit Southampton where he has made eight appearances, six coming off the bench. If they are to win concessive titles, he will have to shine.

Ethiopia and Burkina Faso make up Group C, hoping to make a name for themselves at the tournament. Neither side have any real AFCON pedigree of late, although Ethopia did win the title in 1962. Adane Girma of Ethiopia was the man who held his nerve in the last minute of a qualifier against Benin, with a penalty which bought their ticket to South Africa. Burkina's best result in this competition is fourth place back in 1998; they have an array of young talent that will be on show at the championships.

 

GROUP D

Côte d'Ivoire

Tunisia

Algeria

Togo

Arguably the hardest of all the groups, Group D will be hoping to spice up this year's tournament. Côte d'Ivoire will be looking to go one better than last year and win their second ever championships. The Ivorians go into the tournament firm favourites with the bookmakers at just 7/4 to win the title. All eyes will be on Didier Drogba who has 50 goals for his country, the AFCON being one of the only trophies he has never won.

Togo come into the competition with the news that Tottenham Hotspur striker Emmanuel Adebayor will be joining up with the team before the start of the campaign. His participation has left a bitter taste in the mouth of his his club manger Andre Villas-Boas according to reports but Togo will be delighted their main man will be available.

Both one time winners Algeria and Tunisia will be hoping to grab at least a place in the quarters and will both feel they have enough in their squads to progress. Algeria will be looking at their star studied midfield that includes Valencia's mercurial playmaker Sofiane Feghouli. He will be hoping to combine with former Fulham and Watford winger Hamed Bouazza and Nottingham Forest ace Adlene Guedioura.

Tunisia coach Sami Trabelsi has heaped pressure on himself by dropping Atletico Madrid midfielder Kader Oueslati from his squad. Tunisia have gone through a total of seven managers in the last four years.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
newsBear sweltering in zoo that reaches temperatures of 40 degrees
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll has brought out his female alter-ego Agnes Brown for Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie
filmComedy holds its place at top of the UK box office
News
Ian Thorpe has thanked his supporters after the athlete said in an interview that he is gay
people
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Kathy Willis will showcase plants from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
radioPlants: From Roots to Riches has been two years in the making
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
Arts and Entertainment
Eminem's daughter Hailie has graduated from high school
music
Arts and Entertainment
Original Netflix series such as Orange Is The New Black are to benefit from a 'substantial' increase in investment
TVHoax announcement had caused outrage
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
One Direction star Harry Styles who says he has no plans to follow his pal Cara Delevingne down the catwalk.
peopleManagement confirms rumours singer is going it alone are false
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
theatreMadani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Arts and Entertainment
'Deep Breath' is Peter Capaldi's first full-length adventure as the twelfth Doctor
TVFirst episode of new series has ended up on the internet
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Life and Style
Once a month, waistline watcher Suran steps into a 3D body scanner that maps his body shape and records measurements with pinpoint accuracy
techFrom heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Caption competition
Caption competition

Bleacher Report

Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?