2010 African Cup Of Nations Group B Preview : Tipped as the Group of Death; Unfriendly Neighbors, a West African Affair
By Damien Johnson
Published January 06, 2010
Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) Les Éléphants (The Elephants)
Path to Angola
Group E, Winners ; The Ivoirians cruised through the third round of qualification, recording five victories and one draw on their way to book a place in South Africa.
Coach: Vahid Halilhodi? the veteran Bosnian manager took over The Elephants in 2008 shortly after they finished a disappointed fourth at Ghana 2008. He has previously had coaching stints with Lille and Paris Saint-Germain. For a team that has a tendency to suffer from lapses in concentration, the strict disciplinarian seems to be the right man for the Elephants job.
Star player: Didier Drogba, (Chelsea, England) The Ivorian captain is a superstar in every sense of the word, and has been in supreme form for Chelsea scoring an astonishing fourteen goals in eighteen matches and The 31 year old says the 2010 edition of the Nations Cup will be his last, and he would love nothing more in his swansong than to lead his team to the trophy.
Outlook: The title should be the sole objective of the Elephants. This extremely talented side boasts players from some of the top clubs of the Europe but the 'golden generation' are yet to see their impressive club accolades lead to titles for the national team. As many of their talented player age the time is now for the Ivoirians to bring home the title after suffering anguish at the 2006 and 2008 editions.
Sevilla Star midfielder Ndri Romaric is omitted, a dispute with Halilhodi?, costs him his place in the squad. Asec Mimosas' goalkeeper Vincent De Paul Angban is the only locally based player to make the squad.
Goalkeepers: Boubacar Barry (Lokeren, Belgium), Aristide Zogbo (Maccabi Netanya/Israel), Vincent De Paul Angban (Asec Mimosas)
Defenders: Kolo Toure (Manchester City, England), Emmanuel Eboue (Arsenal, England), Guy Demel (SV Hamburg, Germany), Souleman Bamba (Hibernian, Scotland), Benjamin Angoua Brou (Kispest Honved, Hungary), Arthur Boka (VfB Stuttgart, Germany), Abdoulaye Meite (West Bromwich Albion, England), Siaka Tiene (Valenciennes, France)
Group D, Winners; the West Africans qualified for the World Cup with relative ease winning their first four matches and were the first team African team to qualify for the World Cup
Coach: Milovan Rajevac, Serbian was unknown when took over the post from Claude LeRoy in 2008 and got off to a fast start with the Black Stars. Most of his coaching career previous coaching career was spent managing sides in his native Serbia.
Things have not gone as well as of late for the Black Stars since wrapping up World Cup qualification, with losses to Benin, Japan, and a draws with Mali and Angola, the Serbian tactician will look to turn things around in Angola.
Rajevac has done an admiral job of blending you from The Black Satellites 2009 U-20 World Cup winning team
Star player: Michael Essien (Chelsea, England) with a relatively inexperienced squad in Angola, Ghana will heavily rely on their do-it-all star midfield; 'The Bison' suffered a hamstring injury while playing for Chelsea but is expected to be fit in time for the tournament.
Outlook: Although Ghana will bring a relatively untested squad, expectations will be high back home for the four-time African Champions as they embark on Angola where they will be seeking their first Nations Cup title since 1982.
Ghana as one of Africa's six representatives at the World Cup will uses the Nations Cup as a dress rehearsal for the world stage however an early exit in the tournament will surely lead to changes before June.
Rajevac's squad has been ravaged by injuries; Captain Stephen Appiah who is yet to feature for his new club, Bologna is battling knee and calf problems. His deputy John Mensah; John Panstsil, and Laryea Kingston have also been ruled out due to injury. Also missing out is influential midfielder Sulley Muntari, reportedly for in disciplinary reasons.
Rajevac has called up Jonathan Mensah and Ransford Osei to replace John Pantsil and John Mensah bringing the total to eight players from the 2009 U-20 World Cup Champion Black Satellites.
The Serbian tactician looked to call up Getafe's Derek Boateng but his club refused to release the midfielder due to what they deemed a late call up.
Goalkeepers: Daniel Agyei (Liberty Professionals), Richard Kingson (Wigan Athletic, England), Philemon McCarthy (Hearts of Oak)
Defenders: Eric Addo (Roda JC, Holland), Lee Addy (Bechem Chelsea), Harrison Afful (Esperance, Tunisia), Samuel Inkoom (FC Basle, Switzerland ), Jonathan Mensah (Udinese, Italy), Hans Sarpei (Bayer Leverkusen, Germany), Isaac Vorsah (Hoffenheim, Germany)
Midfielders: Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu (Sampdoria, Italy), Opoku Agyemang (Al Sadd, Qatar), Anthony Annan (Rosenborg, Norway), Dede Ayew (Arles-Avignon, France), Rahim Ayew (Zamalek, Egypt), Haminu Dramani (Lokomotiv Moscow, Russia), Michael Essien (Chelsea, England), Moussa Narry (Auxerre, France)
Group E, Runner-up; Burkina Faso earn two victories apiece against Guinea and Malawi, and suffered two defeats to the Ivory Coast for a total of twelve points in round three.
Coach: Paulo "the Mourinho of Africa" Duarte is the man credited with the rise of Burkinabe football fortunes. In addition to his role as Stallion manager he also took on the role as manager of French side Le Mans. The Ligue 1 strugglers relieve Duarte of his duties due to their poor performance in the league and his departure for the Nations Cup. The former Jose Mourinho assistant will have his work cut out for him in Angola, after being handed a tough draw.
Star player: Jonathan Pitroipa (Hamburger SV, Germany) The midfielder has lost his first team place at Hamburg after a coaching change and is looking to transfer in January but will surely be leading the charge of the Burkinabe attack in Angola.
Outlook: The Stallions are back after missing out on the last two Nations Cups. Burkina Faso sports a very young team are viewed by many as the under the radar African team on the rise.
They may not have the opportunity to display their potential facing three teams which featured in the last edition of the World Cup. A berth is the quarterfinals would surely been seen by their supporters as a strong accomplishment.
Aristide Bance rejected a place in the squad due to what he referred to as differences with Duarte. Young 19-year old hot-shot goalkeeper Adama Sawadogo is the only Burkina based player making the trek to Angola.
Group A, Third place; qualification was not easy for the Sparrow Hawks only winning two matches from six but they defeated Gabon in Lomé to secure they final Nations Cup spot.
Coach: Hubert Velud was appointed in September 2009 and is unknown to many having spent his coaching career manager in the French lower divisions. He is unknown to many but will be expected by the Togolese to reverse their recent football fortunes in Angola.
Star player: Emmanuel Adebayor (Manchester City, England) The star striker made a surprise move over the summer joining the Manchester City 'revolution'. He is by far the most recognizable player for the Sparrow Hawks and the fortune of the team often relies on the form of their superstar.
Adebayor will need to be firing on all cylinders in Angola if Togo are to progress from this tough group.
Outlook: The World Cup 2006 debutants have struggled to duplicate the form they showed four years ago, missing out completely on the Nations Cup in 2008 and finishing in a disappointing third in their 2010 qualifying campaign.
They will need other players to step up in Angola and take some of the pressure off of Emmanuel Adebayor if they are to reach the knockout stages.
Togo have previously qualified for the Nations Cup three times but have failed to progress from the group stages each time.