Tuesday, January 17, 2006
ESPNsoccernet: January 25, 6:33 PM UK
African Cup of Nations 2006: Group B
Group B: Cameroon | Togo | Angola | Democratic Republic of Congo
Group A |
Group B |
Group C |
Group D |
Coach: Artur Jorge
Captain: Rigobert Song
Nickname: The Indomitable Lions
Cup record: Winners 1984, 1988, 2000, 2002; Qualified 14 times
One to watch: Samuel Eto'o
So long the standard bearers of African football, the strength in depth of the Indomitable Lions, coupled with typical West African muscle and individual flare, make them the stand-out pre-tournament favourites.
Winners in 2000 and 2002, on both occasions courtesy of a penalty shoot-out, their fortune from the spot deserted them last year when, in the closing minutes of qualifying, a penalty miss by Pierre Wome in the 1-1 draw with Sudan cost them a place at the World Cup finals, handing the group to Ivory Coast. The failure caused much consternation and loss of pride - not to mention Wome his place in the squad - but may galvanise this talented group to claim a record fifth African crown.
Spearheaded by the incomparable pace and verve of Barcelona's prolific Samuel Eto'o - one of five remaining squad members from the two previous successful campaigns and on course for a third successive African player of the year award - Cameroon are no one-man show, with quality from back to front.
Espanyol goalkeeper Idris Kameni is universally heralded as the finest the continent has to offer, whilst the steady midfield presence of Chelsea benchwarmer Geremi Fotso Njitap and a centre back pairing of Raymond Kalla and captain Rigobert Song, who will earn his 100th cap for his country during the finals, will present a mighty challenge for opposition attacks.
Experience, then, is in no short supply whilst exciting youth in the form of Jean Makoun of French club Lille and striker Achille Webo from Osasuna have augmented the squad over the last year.
Overseeing this gifted crop of players is Portuguese Artur Jorge. In charge for just over a year, Jorge has a formidable pedigree at both club and international level. The mastermind of FC Porto's European Cup victory in 1987, Jorge has managed clubs in France, Switzerland, Spain, the Netherlands, Russia and Saudi Arabia, as well as enjoying stints in charge of both Switzerland and his native Portugal.
The draw has been kind to Cameroon and the group stages should prove a formality to navigate. After the heartbreak of a failed World Cup campaign they will have a point to prove and the personnel with which to do it. Beware this wounded lion.
Goalkeepers: 17-Pierre Ebede (Panathinaikos, Greece), 16-
Hamidou Souleymanou (Denzilispor, Turkey), 1-Idriss Carlos
Kameni (Espanyol, Spain)
Defenders: 6-Benoit Angbwa (Krylya Sovietov Samara, Russia),
3-Timothee Atouba (Hamburg SV, Germany), 23-Stephane Bikey
(Lokomotiv Moscow, Russia), 2-Jean-Hugues Bilayi Ateba,(Paris St
Germain, France), Armand Deumi (FC Thun, Switzerland), 5-Raymond
Kalla (Sivasspor, Turkey), 8-Geremi Fotso Njitap (Chelsea,
England), 4-Rigobert Song (Galatasaray, Turkey)
Midfielders: Eric Djemba Djemba (Aston Villa, England),
10-Achille Emana (Toulouse, France), 13-Guy Feutchine (PAOK
Salonika, Greece), Jean Makoun (Lille, France), 7-Daniel Ngom
Kome (Murcia, Spain), Salomon Olembe (Al Rayan, Qatar),
14-Alioum Saidou (Galatasary, Turkey)
Strikers: Pierre Boya (Partizan Belgrade, Serbia and
Montenegro), Rudolph Douala (Sporting Lisbon, Portugal),
9-Samuel Eto'o (Barcelona, Spain), Achille Webo (Osasuna,
Spain), Albert Meyong Ze (Belenenses, Portugal)
Coach: Stephen Keshi
Captain: Abalo Dosseh
Nickname: The Hawks
Cup record: Qualified six times
One to watch: Emmanuel Adebayor
Togo's unexpected presence in Germany next summer may have football fans around the globe reaching for their Atlases, but in Africa even their presence in Egypt has raised many an eyebrow.
Yet to make it past the group stages in five attempts stretching back to 1972, the tiny West African state's team have proved perennial whipping boys. Not anymore.
The catalyst for their unlikely upturn in fortunes has been the appointment of Nigerian Stephen Keshi as coach. Keshi has appeared in a record equalling three finals for the Super Eagles, captaining them to glory in 1994, and has also tasted a European final when he played for Anderlecht in their Cup Winners' Cup defeat to Sampdoria in 1990.
An uncompromising defender in his day, it is no surprise that Togo's recent improvement has been built on the solidity of a powerful back four - expertly marshalled by veteran Abalo Dosseh - but the ace in the pack is undoubtedly new Arsenal signing Emmanuel Adebayor.
No one bettered the lanky 21-year-old's 10 goals in qualifying and if Togo are to continue the rich form that saw them undefeated after an opening day reversal to Zimbabwe, he will need to shine.
The arrival at Monaco of both Cristian Vieri and Marco Di Vaio paved the way for Adebayor's move to Highbury and he will be intent on proving to his new employers that backing his raw talent was a wise move.
Having beaten Cameroon at the same stage of the competition in their last appearance in 2000, the Togolese will be hoping for a repeat, though their target should remain second place and another historic achievement in the country's football history.
Goalkeepers: 16-Kossi Agassa (FC Metz, France), 22-Safiou
Salifou (Dyto Lome), 1-Ouro-Nimini Tchangirou (Djoliba, Mali)
Defenders: 3-Jean Paul Yaovi Abalo (Dunkerque, France),
12-Eric Akoto (Admira Wacker, Austria), 20-Ludovic Assemoassa
(Murcia, Spain), 21-Mohamed Zanzan Atte-Oudeyi (Lokeren,
Belgium), 8-Abdoul Gafar Mamah (FC105 Libreville, Gabon),
13-Emmanuel Mathias (Esperance, Tunisia), 2-Dare Nibombe
(Mons-Bergen, Belgium), 5-Massamesso Tchangai (Benevento,Italy)
Midfielders: 6-Yao Aziawonou (Young Boys Berne,
Switzerland), 23-Kassim Guyazou, 19-Halirou Audu (both AS
Douanes), 10-Cherif Toure Mamam (Metz, France), 15-Alaixys Romao
(Louhans-Cuiseaux, France), 7-Moustapha Salifou (Brest, France),
18-Junior Senaya (YF Juventus Zurich, Switzerland),
Strikers: 4-Emmanuel Adebayor (Arsenal, England), 17-Mohamed
Kader Coubadja (Sochaux, France), 9-Mickael Dodji Dogbe (Bani
Yas, United Arab Emirates). 14-Adekanmi Olufade (Al Siliya,
Qatar), 11-Coubadja Sherif (Concordia Irhove, Germany).
Coach: Luis Oliveira Goncalves
Captain: Fabrice Akwa
Nickname: The Palancas Negras
Cup record: Qualified three times
One to watch: Fabrice Akwa
Opening a newspaper to read about Angola in recent years, the chances are you weren't looking at the sports pages. The brutal civil war that ravaged a county whose independence came barely three decades ago has left the nation scarred and with a pitiful infrastructure struggling to cope with day-to-day life, let alone able to support a successful football team.
Booking a ticket to the World Cup finals and topping a group containing Nigeria has gone some way to changing that. The government has channelled some of the country's oil revenue into building a team that goes into their third Nations Cup finals confident of securing a first ever win.
Coach Luis Oliveira Goncalves, who has worked with the national team at virtually every age group, including the under-20 team that won the African Youth championship in 2001, was given backing to hunt across Europe for players with Angolan heritage, and with some success.
The majority of players unearthed were in the former colonial power of Portugal and it is in the Portuguese leagues where most of the squad ply their trade, though often outside the top division.
The Palancas Negras' talisman is Fabrice Akwa. Once hailed as the 'new Eusebio' when a prospect at Benfica, Akwa failed to live up to the billing in Lisbon or even in the more humble surroundings of Academica Coimbra. Yet the powerful 28-year-old, who has been an international for over 10 years, has rediscovered his form in the lucrative Qatari league with Al Wakra in recent times.
The country's most decorated player with the dual record of 31 goals in 68 appearances, Akwa will once more lead the line in Egypt.
After producing the most heartening story across the entire qualifying process last year, Angola will be intent on proving to their African peers that it was no fluke. They have only a slim hope of ultimate success but they have already earned the right to be taken seriously.
Goalkeepers: 22-Goliath (Sagrada Esperanca), 1-Joao Ricardo
(unattached), 12-Angel (AS Aviacao)
Defenders: 21-Delgado (Primeiro Agosto), 2-Jacinto (AS
Aviacao), 3-Jamba (AS Aviacao), 5-Kali (Santa Clara, Portugal),
4-Lebo-Lebo (Sagrada Esperanca), 20-Loco (Benfica Luanda),
23-Marco Abreu (Poritimonense, Portugal)
Midfielders: 8-Andre (Kuwait SC, Kuwait), 13-Edson (Pacos
Ferreira, Portugal), 7-Figueiredo (Varzim, Portugal), 11-Johnson
Macaba (Portuguesa, Brazil), 14-Mendonca (Varzim, Portugal),
6-Miloy (InterClube), 17-Ze Kalanga (Petro Atletico)
Forwards: 10-Akwa (Al Wakra, Qatar), 19-Andre Titi Buengo
(Clermont Foot, France), 16-Flavio (Al Ahli, Egypt), 18-Love (AS
Aviacao), 9-Mantorras (Benfica, Portugal), 15-Maurito (Al Wahda,
United Arab Emirates)
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO
Coach: Claude LeRoy
Captain: Lomana LuaLua
Cup record: Winners 1968, 1974; Qualified 15 times
One to watch: Lomana LuaLua
The Democratic Republic of Congo - who in their previous incarnation as Zaire took two African crowns in 1968 and 1974 - should be much tougher opposition at this year's African Nations Cup than when they lost every game in Tunisia two years ago.
The arrival of experienced coach Claude Le Roy, a past Nations Cup winner, has turned the Congolese from a ramshackle outfit into a team with a much-needed element of consistency and focus, as witnessed by a qualifying campaign that brought just two defeats.
In 1988, LeRoy led a Cameroon side including Roger Milla to the title in Morocco, where they beat Nigeria in the final. The Frenchman was also Cameroon's coach twenty years ago when they reached the deciding match at the 1986 Nations Cup in Egypt - only to lose to the hosts on penalties. Confirming his pedigree Le Roy coached hosts Senegal to a quarter-final place in 1992 but it has been more than a decade since he last appeared on the bench at the tournament.
Worryingly for the Simbas they will be without inspirational striker Shabani Nonda, who suffered a knee injury last month and underwent surgery that has ruled him out of the tournament.
Nonda, who plays for Serie A club AS Roma, also missed the finals in Tunisia after English coach Mick Wadsworth was appointed just weeks before the tournament began. His motley selection suffered three successive defeats, including an embarrassing loss to tiny neighbours Rwanda.
The leadership mantle passed from Nonda two years ago to English-based forward Lomana Tresor LuaLua, who got himself suspended midway through the competition after being sent off for kicking out at an opponent.
Recently recovered from a case of malaria after he forgot to take his medication on a recent visit to his homeland, LuaLua is again expected to lead Congo's charge but this time the firm hand of L eRoy is likely to better focus his enthusiasm in a tough group with perennial rivals Cameroon and two World Cup qualifiers in Angola and Togo.
The team will also have high hopes for a locally celebrated midfield containing Mbuta Mbala, Tresor Mpoutu and Milambo Mutamba, recently moved to Le Havre in France.
With little in the way of expectation to weigh them down after being drawn in a tough group, the Congolese have nothing to lose and can play without fear though it will be a surprise if they have any major impact on the tournament.
Goalkeepers: 23-Francis Chansa (Orlando Pirates, South
Africa), 1-Pascal Kalemba (Telestar, Gabon), 16-Tampungu Dikete
(Umtata Bush Bucks, South Africa).
Defenders: 18-Gladys Bokese (Daring Club Motema Pembe),
15-Herita Ilunga (St Etienne, France), 20-Felicien Kabundi (TP
Mazembe Englebert), 7-Christian Fuanda Kinkela (Amiens, France),
13-Nono Lubanzadio (SC Cilu), 2-Cyrille Mubiala (Ajax Cape Town,
South Africa), 3-Dituabanza Nsumbu (AS V Club), 4-Tshinyama
Tshiolola (Ajax Cape Town, South Africa)
Midfielders: 14-Ngasanya Ilongo (Daring Club Motema Pembe),
19-Jean-Paul Kamudimba (Grimsby Town, England), 21-Ndandu
Kasongo (TP Mazembe Englebert), 12-Franck Matingou (Bastia,
France), 10-Zola Matumona (AS V Club), 8-Tresor Mputu (TP
Mazembe Englebert), 5-Biscotte Mbala (Yverdon, Switzerland),
11-Marcel Mbayo (Sakaryaspor, Turkey), 6-Mutamba Milambo (Le
Strikers: 9-Lomana LuaLua (Portsmouth, England), 17-Blaise
Mbele (Orlando Pirates, South Africa), 22-Kabamba Musasa
Fixtures: (Kick-offs in GMT)
Cameroon v Angola: Cairo Military Academy Stadium (1515)
Togo v DR Congo: Cairo Military Academy Stadium (1800)
Angola v DR Congo: Cairo Military Academy Stadium (1515)
Cameroon v Togo: Cairo Military Academy Stadium (1800)
Angola v Togo: Cairo Military Academy Stadium (1700)
Cameroon v DR Congo: Cairo International Stadium (1700)