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2010 African Cup Of Nations Group A Preview : The Hosts Are Out to Impress
By Damien Johnson
Published January 06, 2010

Angola Palancas Negras (The Black Antelopes)
Path to Angola

The Palancas Negras qualified as tournament hosts. Angola finished second in their round two qualification group but did not qualify as one of the top eight second place teams after round two, thus failing to progress to round three.

Coach: Manuel José took over a struggling Palancas Negras side in May 2009. The former Al Ahli (Egypt) Portuguese tactician faces a great deal of pressure from home supporters as they expect his side to perform well as tournament host. 

Star player:  Manucho (Real Valladolid, Spain), the former Manchester United player was a surprise inclusion after several bust ups with Manuel José. The Angolan coach left Manucho out of his squad for several friendlies leading up to the tournament.

His level of discipline has been called into question but his talent is undeniable.  He is a powerful striker, full of pace, who can hold up the ball and shoot from distance; he will surely cause headaches for defenders in front of his home fans.

Outlook: Angola have been disappointing since their surprise qualification to the World Cup in 2006 and quarterfinal appearance in the 2008 Nations Cup. The Palancas Negras will look to make an impression on home soil after failing to qualify for the world cup qualification third round phase.

The Palancas Negras have partaken in numerous friendlies with the likes of Ghana, Cameroon and Togo and held a training camp for their squad in Portugal in preparation for the tournament.

The core of the World Cup 2006 team is still intact with Flavio, Gilberto and Mantorras providing veteran leadership.
Angola are by no means in an easy group but were fortunate to avoid the continental powerhouses and should fancy their chances of advancing to the second round.

Squad:
Goalkeepers: Carlos Fernandes (Rio Ave, Portugal), Lama (Petro Atletico), Wilson (Recreativo Caala)
Defenders: Dias Caires (Sagrada Esperanca), Enoque (Santos), Jamuana (Petro Atletico), Kali (Arles-Avignon, France), Mabina (Petro Atletico), Rui Marques (Leeds United, England), Stelvio (Uniao Leiria, Portugal)
Midfielders: David (Petro Atletico), Dede (Arles-Avignon, France), Djalma (Maritimo, Portugal), Gilberto (Al Ahli, Egypt), Job, Xara (both Petro Atletico), Ze Kalanga (Dinamo Bucharest, Romania), Zuela (Kuban Krasnodar, Russia)
Forwards: Flavio (Al Shabab, Saudi Arabia), Johnson Makaba (Recreativo Libolo), Love (Primeiro Agosto), Mantorras (Benfica, Portugal), Manucho (Real Valladolid, Spain)



Algeria Les Fennecs (The Desert Foxes)
Path to Angola

Group C, winners; The Algerians' campaign began rather meekly with a draw against Rwanda however; they managed to bounce back with an emphatic 3-1 victory over fierce rivals, Egypt.

The Fennecs showed great resolve rebounding from a devastating 2-0 defeat in Cairo to defeat the Pharaohs three days later in a playoff in Sudan by a score of 1-0 to claim their first World Cup berth since 1986.

Coach:  The veteran tactician Rabah Saadane is in his fifth stint as coach of The Fennecs including their last World Cup appearance in 1986.  Saadane has set a target of the quarterfinals however, if the Algerians look to build upon their momentum heading to the World Cup they will surely have higher aspirations.

Star player:  Karim Ziani (Wolfsburg, Germany) The high energy attacking midfielder will pull the strings from the midfield and is a capable dribbler and able to pull off defense splitting passes with relative ease.

Outlook: The World Cup qualification euphoria has subsided after an intense battle with Egypt and it is time to get down to business for The Fennecs. 

As the Algerians showed through qualification they are a very disciplined and tactically sound side that will frustrate opponents. Saadane claimed to be relatively satisfied with the group, which they should be able to navigate to a place in the quarterfinals.

The Fennecs' squad includes nine players who ply their trade in Algeria. There is no place in the squad for striker Kamel Ghilas of Hull City

Squad:
Goalkeepers: Lounes Gaouaoui (ASO Chlef), Fawzi Chaouchi (ES Setif), Mohamed Amine Zemmamouche (MC Algiers)

Defenders: Slimane Raho (ES Setif), Madjid Bougherra (Rangers/Scotland), Rafik Halliche (Nacional/Portugal), Anthar Yahia (Bochum/Germany), Samir Zaoui (ASO Chlef), Abdelkader Laifaoui (ES Setif), Nadir Belhadj (Portsmouth/England), Reda Baabouche (MC Algiers)

Midfielders: Hassen Yebda (Portsmouth/England), Yazid Mansouri (Lorient/France), Khaled Lemmouchia (ES Setif), Mourad Meghni (Lazio/Italy), Karim Ziani (Wolfsburg/Germany), Karim Matmour (Borussia Monchengladbach/Germany), Yacine Bezzaz (Strasbourg/France), Hameur Bouazza (Blackpool/England), Djamal Abdoun (Nantes/France)

Forwards: Rafik Saifi (Al-Khor/Qatar), Abdelkader Mohamed Ghezzal (Siena/Italy), Abdelmalik Ziaya (ES Setif)





Mali Les Aigles (The Eagles)
Path to Angola

Group D, third place; Mali finished behind Ghana and Benin on 9 points.

Coach:  The former standout defender, Stephen Keshi is the man in charge of the Eagles. The Nigerian surprisingly led Togo to their first ever World Cup qualification but was sacked after a poor showing at the 2006 Nations Cup and a dispute with Emmanuel Adebayor.

His success with Togo earned him a label as one of the top coaches in Africa, on paper he has the talent at his disposal to be successful in Angola, however, it remains to be seen if it can translate to the field.

Star player:  Seydou Keita(Barcelona, Spain), during Barcelona's  2008/09 trophy laden season, Keita was used as both a starter and substitute  However, this season Keita has been a mainstay in the Barcelona midfield has been in superb form scoring six goals in fifteen games.

Eagles' fans will hope the star midfielder can replicate his club form in Angola.

Outlook:  The Eagles disappointed at the 2008 Nations Cup failing to make it out of the group stages and will look to make amends in Angola. Mali's World Cup qualification hopes were hampered by injuries to their start midfielders Mohamed Sissoko and Mahamadou Diarra; they will welcome their return for the Nations Cup.  This tournament may be the last chance for Mali's 'golden generation' to make an impact on the international stage.
The Eagles open the tournament against the hosts in Luanda in front of 60,000 fans. Mali on paper have the most talent in Group A and should be able to claim on of the two top spots.  However, qualification for the quarterfinals is no given; the star-studded Eagles have disappointed their fans before.

Barcelona's influential midfielder Seydou Keita is in a fitness race but looks set to participate in the tournament after suffering a thigh injury playing for Barcelona. Xerex midfielder Sidi Yaya Keita misses out due to a knee injury.
Stade Malien players Abdoulaye Maigare and Soumaïla Diakite are the only two locally-based players to make the squad

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Mahamadou Sidibe (Athlitikos Omonoia, Cyprus), Oumar Sissoko (Metz, France), Soumbeyla Diakite (Stade Bamako, Mali).

Defenders: Adama Tamboura (Helsingborg, Sweden), Amadou Sidibe (Auxerre, France), Adama Coulibaly (Auxerre, France), Bakary Soumare (Boulogne, France), Souleymane Diamouténé (Bari, Italy), Ousmane Berthe (Jomo Cosmos, South Africa) , Drissa Diakite (OGC Nice, France), Abdoulaye Maiga (Mali Bamako Stade).

Midfielders: Seydou Keita (FC Barcelona, Spain), Mahamadou Diarra (Real Madrid, Spain), Bakaye Traore (Nancy, France), Sidi Yaya Keita (Xerez, Spain), El Hadj Mahamane Traoré (OGC Nice, France), Mohamed Lamine Sissoko (Juventus, Italy), Abdou Traore (Bordeaux, France), Lassana Fane (El Merreikh, Sudan).

Forwards: Mamadou Bagayoko (OGC Nice, France), Mamadou Samassa (Valenciennes, France), Frederic Oumar Kanoute (Sevilla, Spain), Modibo Maiga (Le Mans, France), Moustapha Yattabaré (Clermont, France), Tenema Ndiaye (FC Nantes, France), Mamadou Diallo (Le Havre, France)




Malawi The Flame
Path to Angola


Group E, third place; Malawi amassed four points in six matches with a home victory over Guinea and a home draw with Côte d'Ivoire.

Coach: Kinnah Phiri is an ex-Malawian international and former coach of Malawi's Under-23 side.  Given Malawi stature on the continent he must be commended for the improved play of the flames over the past two years.
Star player:  Chiukepo Msowoya (Malculmana Desportive, Mozambique), The striker often used as a super sub led the Malawians in goals scored through qualification.  He also scored the most memorable goal in their football history with a thunderous strike that propelled them to victory over Egypt.


Outlook: 2009 was seen by supporters as an excellent year for Malawian football. The Under-17 team qualified for the country's first ever international tournament; the senior national team recorded a victory over African Champions Egypt.  The Flames ended Côte d'Ivoire perfect run in qualification by earning a draw in Blantyre and scored a shock victory over Guinea to ultimately earn the last Nations Cup spot in the group.

The Malawians squad is made up of almost entirely African Based players thus Phiri has had the luxury of thorough preparation with a three week training camp.

This Nations Cup will be only the second in Malawian Football history and although they only managed four points in six matches of qualifying, their surprise results against Egypt, The Ivory Coast and Guinea caused some pundits have labeled them as a national team on the rise. That may be the case but surely the 2010 Nations Cup will be met with tapered expectations by the Flames' supporters.

Squad:
Goalkeepers: Swadick Sanudi (Dynamos, South Africa), Simplex Nthala (MTL Wanderers, Malawi), Charles Swini (ESCOM United, Malawi).

Defenders: Peter Mponda (Black Leopards, South Africa), James Sangala (Primeiro de Agusto, Angola), Allan Kamanga (Dynamos, South Africa), Maupo Msowoya (ESCOM United, Malawi), Moses Chavula (Nathi Lions, South Africa), Harry Nyirenda (MTL Wanderers, Malawi), Elvis Kafoteka (ESCOM United, Malawi).

Midfielders: Davie Banda (Red Lions, Malawi), Hellings Mwakasungula (Silver Strikers, Malawi), Joseph Kamwendo (Orlando Pirates, South Africa), Peter Wadabwa (Thanda Royals Zulu, South Africa), Robert Ng'ambi (Black Leopards, South Africa), Jacob Ngwira (Carara Kicks, South Africa), Fisher Kondowe (Black Leopards, South Africa).

Strikers: Chiukepo Msowoya (Malculmana Desportive, Mozambique), Esau Kanyenda (Kamaz, Russia), Russell Mwafulirwa (IFK Norrkoping, Sweden), Atusaye Nyondo (Carara Kicks, South Africa), Jimmy Zakazaka (Bay United, South Africa), Victor Nyirenda (ESCOM United, Malawi).



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