If you want to have a safe bet for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations, then you don’t have to look for anywhere else but in this group. Why? Because Ghana, the heavy favorites to win this year’s biggest football tournament of Africa, will be playing in this group. Coming to their 18th appearance in the Africa Cup of Nations, Ghana is on a mean streak and they are clicking at the right time. So much so that many are expecting these guys to go all the way and win it all this year. Another thing going for Ghana is the proverbial rule of progression. Well, some superstitious fans are hoping to bank on that anyway. You see, they finished third in the 2008 tournament before finishing second in 2010. And based on the rule of progression, 2012 should have them winning it all. With the current makeup this contingent from Ghana is in, why should you think otherwise? After all, they already have four titles and this year will be their best shot to win their fifth Africa Cup of Nations after having two World Cup appearances under their belt heading into the tournament. The wind is perhaps blowing towards Ghana’s direction. Let’s just hope this team takes advantage of it.
Botswana, on the other hand, will be making its debut in Africa’s biggest international football competition. After shocking the 2004 African champions Tunisia 1-0 in their qualifying stages, Botswana made sure they won’t be regarded as one-hit wonders after scoring seven out of a possible nine points. And then, capping it off by completing a double over Tunisia in the return leg with another 1-nil win and the Stan Tshosane-led contingent is feeling pretty good of themselves lately. Too bad they’re grouped with Ghana and I have a feeling the tournament’s heavy favorites will bring them back to Earth.
One team hoping to make a statement in their stint in the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations will be Mali. This will be their seventh overall appearance in the biggest international football competition of the continent and yet, they still have no titles to show for. Their finishes include runners-up in 1972 before finishing as semifinalists in 1994, 2002, and 2004. However, during the last two Africa Cup of Nations tournaments, things didn’t go the way they planned, failing to even get out of the group stages and ending their title hopes in a rather bad fashion. Will this be the year Mali finally wins Africa’s biggest showcase of football greatness?
Rounding up Group D is Guinea. They are making their return to the Africa Cup of Nations after failing to make it in 2010. You see, their no-show hurt big-time for this country who made it in the last three tournaments before their somewhat disappointing campaign almost two years ago. The last time they competed in the Africa Cup of Nations, expectations were high. Unfortunately, they were outclassed by Cote d’Ivoire 5-0. Yes, they were outscored by five freaking goals. It was so bad that Guinea didn’t even bother showing up for the 2010 tournament in Angola. Will their 2012 campaign erase the bad memories of 2008? The 2012 Africa Cup of Nations couldn’t be here any sooner.