Friday, 13 January 2012

African Cup of Nations Preview: Group B

Group B

Cote d’Ivoire

Best finish: Winners 1992

Key Man: Yaya Toure

Twenty years since Ivory Coast last won Africa’s biggest prize, Yaya Toure is at the peak of his career and can lead them to glory. His presence in the Manchester City midfield has already been felt during his absence, as he has become the main protagonist for the Citizens this season. He has 59 caps for the Elephants, and will form a solid partnership with Cheick Tiote in the middle of the park. Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou and Gervinho will provide the firepower.

Coach: Francois Zahoi

A former Ivory Coast international, he replaced Sven Goran Eriksson in 2010. The Elephants won all of their games in the qualification process, scoring 19 goals and only conceding 4 goals. The pre-tournament favourites, with an array of the best players in Africa, Ivory Coast have high expectations.

Qualification process: Group H Winner

Previous appearances: 18

Vs. Sudan – 22/01/12
Vs. Burkina Faso – 26/01/12
Vs. Angola – 30/01/12

Sudan national team

Best finish: Winners 1970

Key Man: Haitham Mustafa

This man embodies Sudanese football, represented the biggest club in the country; Al-Hilal, for over fifteen years. He’s the club captain, national team captain, and has 120 caps for Sudan. Mustafa is a play making central midfielder, with excellent vision, passing ability, who dictates the tempo of play. He has more than 14 titles with his club side, and is one of the top players in African football.

Coach: Mohammed Abdulla Ahmed

Ahmed led the only East African representative into the tournament as the top two runners-up. The “Falcons” finished level with Ghana in Group I, missing on topping the group on the head-to-head ruling. He was in charge of Sudan for the 2008 ACN, failing to pick up a single point or scoring a single goal. A vast improvement on that poor performance is a must.

Qualification process: Top Two Runners-Up

Haitham Mustafa on the left, Sudan legend

Previous appearances: 7

Vs. Ivory Coast – 22/01/12
Vs. Angola – 26/01/12
Vs. Burkina Faso – 30/01/12

Jonathan Pitroipa, right, Burkina Faso winger

Burkina Faso

Best finish: Fourth place 1998

Key Man: Jonathan Pitroipa

The speedy winger currently plays for Stade Rennais in France, after beginning his career in Germay and is arguably one of the most well known Burkinabe players. He has 23 caps, and has 3 goals.

Keep an eye on Lyon centre-back Bakary Kone who has put in some good first team performances this season, as well as midfielder Charles Kabore, who plays for Marseille.

A surprise inclusion to the squad is 16 year old midfielder Bertrand Troare who once had a trial with Chelsea Football Club. He made his International debut against co-hosts Equatorial Guinea last September.

Coach: Paolo Duarte

Former centre-back who spent the majority of his career playing in the top two tiers of Portuguese football. He was in charge of the club during the 2010 campaign that crashed out at the group stage in third place. In the qualification 12 goals from 4 games, and qualified with consummate ease.

Qualification process: Group F Winner

Previous appearances: 7

Vs. Angola – 22/01/12
Vs. Ivory Coast – 26/01/12
Vs. Sudan – 30/01/12

Manucho, Angola star striker


Best finish: Quarter-finals 2002, 2010

Key Man: Manucho

A name familiar with Manchester United fans, he was hailed as a promising young striker when he signed, but ultimately only one appearances and no impact at the club. The 28 year old has learned from his experiences, and is now on the books at Spanish side Rayo Valladolid, where he's still looking to settle.

For his national team, it’s a completely different story. He’s showcased his scoring prowess, with his excellent aerial ability and powerful shot. He has 16 goals in 33 international appearances.

Coach: Lito Vidigal

As a player, he was a defender and played in the lower leagues of Portuguese football, where he also began his managerial career. He was capped 29 times as a player and represented Angola at the 1998 African Cup of Nations.

Qualification process: Group J Winner

Previous appearances: 5

Vs. Burkina Faso – 22/01/12
Vs. Sudan – 26/01/12
Vs. Ivory Coast – 30/01/12

Remember to vote in the poll, and let me know who you think will win the African Cup of Nations. Also follow me on Twitter @RealTlkFootball

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