The 2012 Africa Cup of Nations is the ultimate test for every African nation looking to become the best in the world of football and this time, Gabon will host the tournament with Equatorial Guinea.
Gabon will highlight Group C but I reckon the other three countries in their division won’t let the host nation have their way. Gabon will compete in the Africa Cup of Nations for the fifth time in its history. They are led by a young and talented bunch and for a team full of promise, betting against this team would be hard indeed. The only problem is, they gave their Frenchman head coach Alain Giresse the boot after showing some promise. His replacement, German Gernot Rohr, is still a pretty solid manager, but the only real experience the guy has in Africa was when he coached in Tunisia with Etoile du Sahel between 2008 and 2009. They will need all the support they can get from their home fans, that’s for sure.
Next we have Niger. This is the first time they will be competing in the Africa Cup of Nations. Heck, this is the very first time that Niger will be competing in any major international tournament so you can just imagine the country’s euphoria when they managed to qualify for Africa’s biggest football tournament. So how did this turnaround happen? Well, because of head coach Harouna Doula Gabde’s determination when he turned this group of virtually unknown players into a solid and cohesive unit. So much so that Niger’s road to the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations was a testament of their resolve, beating the likes of South Africa and Sierra Leone. Can they continue their Cinderella run this January?
Morocco is another nation in Group C and could very well be the strongest of the division. Enjoying two decades of greatness on the African football stage, they’ve always been a force to be reckoned with in Africa’s biggest football competition, winning the African Cup of Nations back in 1976, before finishing third in 1980 and then fourth in both the 1986 and 1988 tournaments. In 1998, Morocco got its biggest recognition yet, receiving their highest ranking in the FIFA world ranking stage. In 2004, Morocco was right there with the big boys again, coming this close to winning that year’s Africa Cup of Nations tournament after bowing out to host country and eventual champions, Tunisia.
Speaking of Tunisia, they too are ranked in Group C and will look to repeat the success they had eight years ago when they beat Morocco for their first and only Africa Cup of Nations title. 2012 will mark their 15th appearance in African football’s biggest stage. Tunisia will be led by head coach Sami Trabelsi, after he took over from Bertrand Marchand halfway through their qualifiers. Trabelsi’s enthusiasm and energy powered the Tunisian side to finish the job Marchand left and earn their 15th bid in the Africa Cup of Nations.
Will that be enough? We will find out soon!