The 2012 Africa Cup of Nations kicks off tomorrow with a Group A clash between host nation Equatorial Guinea and Libya in the Estadio De Bata.A second group fixture involving Senegal and Zambia will follow immediately after the opening game in the same stadium.
The National Lightning, as the Equatorial Guineans are nicknamed, will be looking to secure a win in their first ever match at AFCON in their showdown with Libya.
The Mediterranean Knights of Libya will be appearing in their 3rd nations Cup finals and have always been drawn in Group A.
This will be an intriguing duel as both teams fancy their chances of winning with Equatorial Guinea marginal favourites for the tie by virtue of being the home side.
The other match of the day is another Group A contest which will see Senegal take on Zambia. The Lions of Teranga, whoâ€™ve made 11 appearances, havenâ€™t reached the heights of the 2002 side who were runners up at AFCON and made the quarter finals of the World Cup in the same year.
The Senegalese have lost a raft of stars over the years with some pundits writing them off as potential champions.
An impressive qualification campaign saw then winning their group which will stand then in good stead, and theyâ€™ll be hoping some of their players will make names for themselves with an impressive showing at the continental showpiece.
Zambia will however be difficult opponents for the West Africans as Chipolopolo, whoâ€™ve made more appearances than Senegal at AFCON with 14 in total, will be eyeing a solid run at the tournament.
The Southern African team was Group C winners, qualifying ahead of Libya. Chipolopolo will be keen to improve on the quarter final loss to Nigeria at the last Nations Cup in Angola.
The Zambians scored an impressive 11 goals in their run to winning the group and will be hoping their scoring run continues at the tournament.
Being jointly hosted by Equatorial Guinea and Gabon, this yearâ€™s edition is the last time that the competition will be held on an even year and marks the first time in over a decade that Nigeriaâ€™s senior national side, the Super Eagles, are not going to feature, due to their failure to qualify from a group topped by Guinea.
Other big-name countries missing from the biggest soccer showpiece event on the continent are record time winners, Egypt and Cameroon.
But their loss is the gain of the likes of Ghana, Cote Dâ€™Ivoire, Senegal and Morocco who pundits have tipped as the front-runners to win the title.