Africa will be the focus of the lenses of global football fans as the 2012 Orange Africa Cup of Nations kicks off in barely some few hours with a Group A match between co-hosts Equatorial Guinea and Libya while Zambia and Senegal will feature in the second game of the day.The host nation Equatorial Guinea will face the Mediterranean Knights of Libya in the opening game in the Estadio DeBatta in Equatorial Guinea while the Chipolopolo of Zambia will have a date with the Lions of Teranga, Senegal.
On parade will be the best 16 teams as far as African football is concerned at least for now. 14 nations join co-hosts Equatorial Guinea and Gabon for the tournament scheduled for January 21 to February 12, this year. Three teams will be making their debut; co-host Equatorial Guinea, Niger and Botswana.
This year’s tourney is historic is diverse angles; the first time in Central Africa since 1972 in Cameroon, the last edition in an even year as well as first timer co-hosts. Ghana and Nigeria, who co-hosted in 2000 had each staged the competition at least once before.
As usual, West Africa has the biggest number of seven participants; Southern Africa has three teams in Angola, Botswana and Zambia while Tunisia, Libya and Morocco represent the North African zone. Central Africa has two representativesâ€™ co-hosts Equatorial Guinea and Gabon with Sudan being the lone ranger from the Central-East zone.
Despite the absence of traditional forces such as current holders Egypt, Cameroon and Nigeria, the presence of top ranked teams like Ghana, Tunisia, Senegal and Cote d’Ivoire, among others makes up for the no-show of the former.