Khartoum, Sudan (sudanow.info.sd) – The Africa Cup of Nations tournament is organized by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and was first introduced in 1957, the brainchild of late Sudanese prominent sports patron Dr. Abdul Halim Mohamed, and the first champion ship was organized in Sudan the same year.
At first, the tournament was not held in regular intervals, sometimes yearly, other times every three years or two years; but as of 1968, when it was held in Ethiopia, it began to be organized every two years.
But the next tournament will be held in 2013 and the next one in 2015 to avert coincidence of the World Cup championship which will be held in 2014.
The West African Gabon and Equatorial Guinea will co-host this 28th edition as they won the draw that was held on 29th October 2011at the Sipopo Conference Palace in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. These two nations automatically qualified for the championship which the other 14 national teams fought hard and played several matches, some difficult, to qualify.
National teams from 16 African countries are contesting in this tournament, divided into four groups; each consisting of four teams, groups A and B will play in Equatorial Guinea cities of Bata and Malabo while groups C and D will meet in the Gabonese cities of Libreville and Franceville
The mascot for the 28th tournament, which was unveiled on 16 September 2011 at a ceremony in Libreville, Gabon, is named Gaguie and is a picture of a gorilla sporting the national team colours of Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.
The official match ball for this tournament, manufactured by Adidas Company, is named the Comoequa, inspired from the Como River which runs through the host countries and the Equator which run throughout Africa.
Group A consists of Equatorial Guinea, Libya, Senegal and Zambia, while group B consists of Ivory Coast, Sudan, Burkina Faso and Angola. These two groups will play in Equatorial Guinea.
Group C consists of Gabon, Niger, Morocco and Tunisia, while group D consists of Ghana, Botswana, Mali and Guinea. These two groups will play their matches in Gabon.
Reigning Champion Egypt and previous champions Cameroun, Nigeria, Algeria, and South Africa will be missing in this tournament as they have failed to qualify.
The opening match will be played between Equatorial Guinea and Libya on 21 st January at Estadio d-Bata, Bata, while the final one will be played in Libreville, Gabon, on 12th February 2012.
The Sudanese National Team:
The Sudan participation in this tournament will be the eighth time since 1957. It was a founder of CAP and organized the first tournament in that year when it came third and won the second position in the next championship and the same position in the fourth edition. The Sudan won the championship for the first and last time in 1970 for the first and last time when it organized the tournament. The Sudanese national team qualified to this 28th edition and the best second along with Ghana. Coach: Mohamed Abdulla Mazda, a Sudanese.
In view of this absence, Ghana and Ivory Coast are expected to be top candidates for winning the championship while Senegal, Morocco and Tunisia will be less likely and Libya and Sudan will be the least likely to make, considering the standards of the competitors.
Equatorial Guinea National Team:
They have never qualified for the African Cup of Nations and this will be their first ever participation and they have automatically qualified because they co-hosting the tournament.
Coach: Jolson Paulo
Senegal National Team:
This will be their 12th participation since 1965. They have a number of professionals playing in different leagues abroad.
Coach: Amar Troure, a Senegalese
Libyan National Team: This will be their second participation after qualifying as second to Zambia in the third group of the elimination stage.
Coach: Mark Bakita
Zambian National Team:
The appearance in this 28 edition will be their 13th participation since 1974. They won the championship once in 1992. They reached the final twice in 1974 and 1994, There are many professionals in their ranks playing abroad.
Coach: Hervne Zenarde, French
Ivory Coast National Team:
It will be their 18th appearance since 1965. They won the championship once in 1992. There are many professional footballers playing abroad.
Coach: François Ezahone, from Ivory Coast.
The Angolan National Team:
This will be their sixth appearance since 1996. They qualified by leading the 10th elimination group coming ahead of Uganda.
Coach: Leo Didval, Angolan
Burkina Faso National Team:
It will be their eighth time to take part in the championship since 1978, qualifying be leading the sixth elimination group. They include a number of professionals playing abroad.
Coach: Paulo Duarte, Portuguese
The Gabonese National Team:
They will take part for the fifth time in the championship since 1994. They qualified automatically as they are co-hosting the tournament.
Coach: Gertrud Dore, German
The Tunisian National Team:
It will be their 14th appearance in the championship since 1962. They won the championship once in 2004 and previously came second twice in 1978 and 2000. There are players of a high standard I heir ranks.
Coach: Trabolsy, Tunisian
The Moroccan National Team:
This will be their 14th appearance in the African championship since 1972. They won the championship once in 1986 and the second place in 2004. They qualified by leading the fourth elimination group. There are many professionals among their ranks playing for European clubs.
Coach: Eric Geris, French
Niger National Team:
It will their first ever appearance in the championship as they are among Africa’s poor standard teams. They qualified from the seventh elimination group, superseding South Africa in the number of goals.
Coach: Harouna Walagapde, from Niger
The Ghanaian National Team:
This is their 18th participation in the championship since 1963. They won the championship four times in 1963, 1965, 1978 and 1982 and the second place also four times in 1968, 1970, 1972 and 2010. They qualified by leading the ninth group, scoring 16 points as they haven’t lost any match in the elimination stage.
Coach: Goran Stephanovic, Serbian
The Guinean National Team:
It will be their 10th appearance in the African championship since 1970. They won the second place in 1976. They qualified by leading the second elimination group.
Coach: Michel Du Sois
The Malian National Team:
Their participation in this 28th edition will be their fifth appearance in the championship since 1972. They include numerous professionals in European leagues. They qualified by leading the first elimination group, scoring the highest number of goals.
Coach: Alan Gorges, French
The Botswana National Team:
It is their first ever appearance in the African Cup of Nations championship as they are of a poor standard. They qualified after leading the 11th elimination group.
Coach: Stanley Chusan, from Botswana.