Preview: African Cup of Nations- Group B

by Tom Stewart

Group B sees favourites Ivory Coast’s ‘golden generation’ attempt to prove what their gifted team, possibly the most gifted in African history, can do.

Ivory Coast

Coach: Francois Zahoui

Key Players: Yaya Toure (Manchester City), Didier Drogba (Chelsea)

Previous Best: Winners (1992)

Population: 20.6m

GDP Per Capita: $1,036

The highest ranked team in the tournament (16th), and an obvious candidate for pre-tournament favourites. The Ivorians go into 2012 with probably the most talented set of players the continent has ever seen. Yaya Toure has been having a great season with Manchester City and is one of the best midfielders on the planet, alongside him Cheick Tiote has been in excellent form for Newcastle United. The likes of Didier Drogba, who by his own standards has been having a fairly poor season, should still have enough ability to score goals alongside the likes of Solomon Kalou, Gervinho and impressive CSKA Moscow forward Seydou Doumbia. In goal they have the ever reliable Boubacar Barry.

Prediction: Are favourites and should at least make the final unless they crumble under expectation.

Angola

Coach: Lito Vidigal

Key Players: Manucho (Real Valladolid), Gilberto (Lierse)

Previous Best: Quarter Finals (2008, 2010)

Population: 18.5m

GDP Per Capita: $4,328

Angola reached the Quarter finals in the last two tournaments, and will be hoping to repeat that feat this time around. Former Manchester United forward Manucho has 14 goals in 32 games for his country and alongside experienced striker Flavio a lot of hopes will be pinned on them. Flavio’s Lierse team mate Gilberto will provide a lot of the creativity. At the back they have a problem that a lot of their competitors share- inexperience, with first choice keeper Carlos having just 12 caps to his name.

Prediction: If they can get Gilberto on the ball to supply Manucho and Flavio should get past the first round, will struggle to improve on their previous performances, however.

Sudan

Coach: Mohamed Abdalla Ahmed

Key Player: Haitham Mustafa (Al-Hilal)

Previous Best: Winners (1970)

Population: 30.9m

GDP Per Capita: $2,300

Only Ghana took points off this young team in qualifying, but little is predicted of the East African side. The bulk of the side play their football within their own nation, with the star man undoubtedly being attacking midfielder Haitham Mustafa, who has 120 caps and 11 Sudanese titles to his name.

Prediction: Went out in the first round in 2008 and will be looking to improve on that. However, simply improving on their three defeats last time round will be an improvement. This young side are tough to beat and may have an impact on who goes through.

Burkina Faso

Coach: Paulo Duarte

Key Players: Bakary Kone (Lyon), Jonathan Pitroipa (Rennes)

Previous Best: Semi-Final (1998)

Population: 15.7m

GDP Per Capita: $597

They have an abundance of pace in the team, with the likes of Aristide Bance and Moumouni Dagano up front and the lightning Jonathan Pitroipa on the wing. They have several players playing in France’s Ligue 1 so have a lot more class than people may initially give them credit for. At the back they have the solid Bakary Kone who adds some steel to what is a young defence.

Prediction: Will be battling it out with Angola for 2nd place, it may come down to the game between them to decide which goes through.

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