by Tom Stewart
Group C contains co-hosts Gabon alongside North African behemoths Tunisia and Morocco.
Coach: Gernot Rohr
Key Players: Bruno Manga (Lorient), Didier Ovono (Le Mans)
Previous Best: Quarter-Finals (1996)
GDP Per Capita: $8,724
The co-hosts go into this tournament as somewhat of an emerging force in African football. Their manager, Gernot Rohr is experienced and has an impressive track record in France. They have a solid defence with Didier Ovono considered by many to be Africa’s greatest goalkeeper, and the solid Bruno Manga. Upfront they have the experienced former Rangers striker Daniel Cousin alongside St Etienne’s 22 year old striker Pierre Aubameyang.
Predictions: Drawn alongside Tunisia and Morocco was a tough draw and they could struggle to get through the first round. Home advantage could see them squeeze into second place however.
Coach: Sami Trabelsi
Key Players: Karim Haggui (Hannover), Issam Jemaa (Auxerre)
Previous Best: Winners (2004)
GDP Per Capita: $4,592
Of the teams that have won the last 9 tournaments, Tunisia are the only to have qualified this time around. Somewhat of a behemoth of African football, the North-Africans have been in slight disarray since their glory days of 2002-06 with seven changes of coach since 2008. A lot of their players play domestically in what is one of Africa’s strongest leagues. There is a lot of experience in this team and they are incredibly well organised.
Prediction: Have high hopes going into this competition. They are well organised and will be very tough to beat. Should get through this group although it’s a bit of a 3 horse race.
Coach: Eric Gerets
Key Players: Houssine Kharja (Fiorentina) Marouane Chamakh (Arsenal)
Previous Best: Champions (1976)
GDP Per Capita: $4,800
Only conceded two goals in qualification and much of their success is built around this solid defence. Celtic’s Badr El Kaddouri and Mehdi Benatia of Udinese are two rocks at the back and they have the experienced Nadir Lamyaghri in goal. Going forward they will be desperate for Marouane Chamakh and Adel Tarrabt to recapture form. Morocco are managed by the vastly experienced Belgian tactician Eric Gerets.
Prediction: Not quite the force they once were but should get through the group, will probably be battling it out with Gabon for second place. Not sure they will get further than the quarter finals.
Coach: Harouna Doula Gabde
Key Players: Kassaly Daouda (Coton Sport), Karim Lancia (Coton Sport)
Previous Best: Never qualified
GDP Per Capita: $381
Qualified via a monumental fuck-up by South Africa who thought they only had to draw rather than win, this is Niger’s first tournament. It is quite an achievement given that their federation confirmed that if they had qualified for 2010 they would’ve been unable to afford to send them there. Many of their players play domestically and throughout Africa, with a handful of europe-based youngsters. They play a hard pressing 4-4-2 game
Prediction: Qualified from a group containing South Africa and Egypt so won’t be a complete pushover. Are quite organised but goals may be hard to come by. Will most likely come bottom of the group.