The 2012 Africa Cup of Nations is just around the corner and if there’s one group you should follow for the biggest tournament in Africa, and then look no further than Group B because I have a feeling that this division will produce some of the most exciting contests in the entire field.
Leading Group B is Cote D’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), blazing past the qualifying stages to score their 19th Africa Cup of Nations stint in history. Led by their talented core of players that consists of names like Didier Drogba, Didier Zokora, and Kolo Toure, Cote D’Ivoire is enjoying the prime of their nation’s aptitude and capability to win huge international football competitions. Cote D’Ivoire naturally performs well in big football tournaments. So much so that it seemed like it was only yesterday when they reached the Africa Cup of Nations final in Egypt back in 2006. Unfortunately for Cote D’Ivoire, they had to face the host nation for their bid to hoist the title, and they bowed out of the tournament soon after. Still, with the likes of Emmanuel Eboue, Yaya Toure, and Salomon Kalou leading Cote D’Ivoire, the nation is heading to the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations as one of the favorites. Heck, after they blazed through the CAN 2012 qualifiers to get where they are now, who can say different?
Next we have Sudan, a nation looking for some retribution in the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations after their somewhat dismal showing the last time they played in Africa’s premiere football competition. Yes, the year was 2008 when Sudan, after a long 32-year absence, made its return to the world of competitive football. Unfortunately for them, their run four years ago was venial, inconsequential, and more importantly, insignificant. Yes, coming back to prominence after 32 years of obscurity is a welcome sight but their performance in 2008 was so bad that nobody really felt they were there. How bad was their run? Lose-all-your-matches-without-scoring-a-freaking-goal…bad. Heading to the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations, Sudan head coach Abdallla Mazda brings with him a young and talented group of players who could finally give the nation that awe-inspiring return to prominence they were looking for since virtually coming back from the dead four years ago. With an average age of 28, Sudan is definitely banking on their youth to push them over the hump. Can youth compensate for their lack of experience? We’ll find out soon enough.
Next we have Burkina Faso, like Sudan, they too look to improve from their poor showing the last time they played in the Africa Cup of Nations when they suffered a first-round exit in 2010. That’s when Africa’s premiere tournament was staged in Angola. Burkina Faso will look to shock the world in the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations. The problem is, they are heading to the tournament with an inexperienced coach. While I have nothing against Burkina Faso head coach Paulo Duarte as I’m sure he is a solid manager but this will be his first time in the international stage and these games are different and way tougher from what he’s probably used to.
Rounding up Group B is Angola, a nation marred by civil unrest, making you wonder if the contingent they’re sending to the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations will be focused enough to win the big one. Angola did qualify for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, shocking the rest of the world and proving that, despite the turmoil happening in their country, they can still send a pretty decent team for international football tournaments. When the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations was staged on their very own home soil, everybody was so happy for the country and for its people. Unfortunately, Angola’s return to prominence took an abrupt end even before it began when three members of the Togo entourage was killed just days before the tournament started. For what it’s worth, Angola reached the quarterfinals as host country after doing the same in Ghana for the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations. Those two finishes are their best ones to date and there’s no reason for you to think that they can’t do the same for 2012. Angola actually going all the way to win the title though, is an entirely different story.
We’ll be back on Thursday with the Group C preview.