Friday, January 8, 2010
ESPNsoccernet: January 12, 8:31 PM UK
African Nations Cup 2010
Group C: Egypt | Nigeria | Mozambique | Benin
Group A |
Group B |
Group C |
Group D |
Coach: Hassan Shehata
Captain: Ahmed Hassan
Nickname: The Pharaohs
Cup record: Winners 1957, 1959, 1986, 1998, 2006, 2008; Qualified 22 times
Winners of the past two tournaments, Egypt are aiming to become the first nation to lift three successive Nations Cup titles and cement their place as the competition's most successful team. Egypt had a similar opportunity in 1962 after winning the first two tournaments in 1957 and 1959, but were denied by host nation Ethiopia , after losing the final 4-2 after extra-time. This time around, Egypt are not among the favourites, but write them off at your peril. The Pharaohs are a wounded animal, having been beaten to a World Cup spot by bitter rivals Algeria,
One to watch: Mohamed Zidan - The diminutive frontman was outstanding throughout the 2008 tournament, inspiring his side to a famous 4-2 win over Cameroon in the group stages with two fine finishes before starring in the Pharaohs final victory over the same opposition. Zidan has struggled to replicate such form at club level for Borussia Dortmund and will be under huge pressure this time around, following coach Hassan Shehata's decision to leave out experienced duo Mido and Amir Zaki and the enforced absence of playmaker Mohamed Aboutrika.
Qualification: Egypt qualified comfortably for the African Nations Cup. They made it through the second round with five wins out of six, ahead of Malawi. And then in the final round they battled tooth and nail with Algeria for World Cup qualification. It all got off to an unauspicous start, though, with a 1-1 draw at home to Zambia. But they then won every other qualifier, bar the away match in Algeria, conceding just four goals in the process, to finish level with Algeria at the top of the table. They needed a play-off to seperate them for a place in South Africa.
Trivia: Captain Ahmed Hossan is the third most capped player in international football history with 170 appearances. If Egypt reach the Nations Cup final, he will be on the brink of overtaking Mexican Claudio Suarez as the most capped outfield player ever.
Soccernet prediction: Still hurting from their failure to qualify for the World Cup, the Pharaohs will be hugely driven to challenge for a third successive title, though they may just fall short. Semi-finals.
Goalkeepers: Essam Al-Hadari (Ismaili), Abdul-Wahed Al-Sayed (Zamalek), Mahmoud Aboul-Saoud (Mansoura).
Defenders: Hani Saied (Zamalek), Wael Gomaa (Ahli), Mahmoud Fathallah (Zamalek), Moatasem Salem (Ismaili), Abdul-Zaher Al-Saqqa (Eskisehirspor), Sayed Moawad (Ahli), Mohamed Abdul-Shafi (Zamalek), Ahmed Al-Muhammadi (ENPPI), Ahmed Fathi (Ahli).
Midfielders: Ahmed Hassan (Ahli), Hosni Abd Rabou (Ahli Dubai), Abdul-Aziz Tawfiq (ENPPI), Hossam Ghali (Al-Nassr), Mohamed Nagui (Ittihad Alexandria), Shikabala (Zamalek).
Forwards: Ahmed Eid (Haras Hodoud), Emad Motaeb (Ahli), Ahmed Raouf (ENPPI), Sayed Hamdi (Petrojet), Mohamed Zidan (Borussia Dortmund).
Coach: Shaibu Amodu
Captain: Nwankwo Kanu
Nickname: Super Eagles
Cup record: Winners 1980, 1994; Qualified 16 times
Nigeria may have two Nations Cup titles under their belt, but the Super Eagles are undoubtedly the tournament's perennial nearly-men, finishing runners-up four times and in third place on six occasions. On their other three tournament appearances they exited at the first round in 1963 and 1982, and were eliminated in the 2008 quarter-finals. Nigeria's last Nations Cup triumph came in 1994, but the Super Eagles caused major controversy in 1996 for refusing to defend their title in South Africa for political reasons. The nation's biggest disappointment came in 2000, when, as tournament hosts, they were beaten finalists in Lagos, losing out to Cameroon on penalties.
Qualification: South Africa, Sierra Leone and Equatorial Guinea were beaten home and away as the 'Super Eagles' cruised through the opening qualifying round with a 100% record. In the final round, Nigeria remained unbeaten, and even scooped a surprise 2010 World Cup berth after winning their final two games against Mozambique and Kenya to edge out Tunisia.
One to watch: Obafemi Martins - The 25 year-old combined clinically with Everton striker Yakubu Aiyegbeni to seal the Super Eagles qualification for this year's World Cup. Always a threat with his pace and ability to shoot powerfully off of both flanks, the former Newcastle man has been struggling with niggling injuries this term following a £9 million summer move to Wolfsburg. But could be a good bet for top scorer at this year's event.
Trivia: Nigerian legend and all-time top scorer Rashidi Yekini, famed for his notorious net-ripping celebrations at the 1994 World Cup, has scored more goals for his country than current striking stars Yakubu Aiyegbeni and Obafemi Martins combined. Yekini struck 37 times for his nation, netting four more times than Yakubu (18) and Martins (15) have mustered together.
Soccernet prediction: Shaibu Amodu's side have not won the Nations Cup for sixteen years and their squad has a real tendency to blow hot and cold. Will need John Obi Mikel and Obafemi Martins to be on top form if they are to challenge. Quarter finals.
Goalkeepers: Vincent Enyeama (Hapoel Tel Aviv) Bamidele Aiyenugba (Bnei Yehuda) Austin Ejide (unattached)
Defenders: Joseph Yobo (Everton), Danny Shittu (Bolton), Obinna Nwaneri , Yusuf Mohammed (both FC Sion), Taye Taiwo (Marseille) Elderson Echiejile (Rennes), Chidi Odiah (CSKA Moscow), Onyekachi Apam (Nice).
Midfielders: Nwankwo Kanu (Portsmouth), John Mikel Obi (Chelsea), Dickson Etuhu (Fulham) Sani Kaita (Lokomotiv Moscow) Yusuf Atanda Ayila (Dynamo Kiev), Oluwaseyi George Olofinjana (Hull City), Kalu Uche (Almeria).
Strikers: Yakubu Aiyegbeni (Everton), Osaze Odemwingie (Lokomotiv Moscow), Obinna Nsofor (Malaga), Obafemi Martins (Wolfsburg), Chinedu Obasi (Hoffenheim)
Coach: Mart Nooij
Nickname: The Mambas
Cup record: First round; Qualified four times
Another of the tournament's nailed-on minnows, Mozambique have little Nations Cup pedigree having appeared at the tournament just three times, with the last an embarassing campaign in Burkina Faso in 1998 which saw the Mambas crash out at the group stage having scored one goal and conceded eight. In fact, Mozambique have yet to win a single match at the African Nations Cup, with their record reading a dismal one draw and eight defeats in nine games - their sole point coming against Tunisia in the 1996 tournament. With a couple of European-based players in the side they may have a couple of jokers up their, but their main aim will simply to not be a joke.
Qualification: After being drawn alongside continental powerhouses Ivory Coast in the first group stage of qualification, Mozambique were only too happy to finish above Madagascar and Botswana to take one of the eight places available to the best runners-up. In the next group stage, Mozambique came in third behind Nigeria and Tunisia when missing out on the World Cup and only sealed their place at the African Nations Cup on the final day when beating Tunisia 1-0 in Maputo to finish above Kenya. A 0-0 draw at home to Nigeria in March 2009 was also an important result.
One to watch: Simao Mate Junior - The 21-year-old defensive midfielder is a regular fixture in the Panathinaikos midfield despite his age and impressed in this year's European Champions League
His strength and solidity have resulted in comparisons to Patrick Viera and earned him a fresh club contract - which included a multi-million Euros release clause - within a year of arriving in Greece.
Trivia: One of the greatest players of all time, Eusebio, was born and raised in Mozambique. The "Black Pearl", who netted 41 goals in 64 fames for Portugal, played for Sporting Lourenço Marques (now Maxaquene) in what was then the colony of Portuguese East Africa, before being snapped up by Benfica in 1960.
Soccernet prediction: It's difficult to see the Mambas progressing but the shock defeat of Tunisia in qualifying will give Mart Nooij's side belief that they could spring an upset. Group stage exit.
Goalkeepers: Bino (Liga Muculmana), Kampango (Tersana), Lama (Liga Muculmana)
Defenders: Campira (Desportivo Maputo), Dario Khan (Al Kharitiyah), Fanuel (Liga Muculmana), Mexer (Desportivo Maputo), Miro (Platinum Stars), Paito (FC Sion), Simao (Panathinaikos), Whisky (Ferroviario Maputo), Zainadine Junior (Desportivo Maputo)
Midfielders: Danito Parraque (Ferroviario Maputo), Dominques (Mamelodi Sundowns), Genito (Nea Salamina), Goncalves Fumo (Olympiakos), Josimar (Costa dol Sol), Momed Hagy (Ferroviario Maputo), Nelinho (Desportivo Maputo), Ze Luis (Baladeyet Al Mahalla)
Forwards: Helder Pelembe (Maxaquene), Dario Monteiro (SuperSport United), Tico-Tico (Jomo Cosmos).
Coach: Michel Dussuyer
Captain: Romuald Boco
Nickname: The Squirrels
Cup record: First round; Qualified three times
This will be Benin's third appearance in the last four Nations Cups, which is a demonstration of the excellent progress they have made. The 2004 tournament - their first ever - was a baptism of fire, with a last minute Moussa Latoundji goal in the final group game against Nigeria, saving the Squirrels the embarassment of exiting the competition with three defeats and no goals. It was a similar story in 2008, as Benin were again a last-minute goal away - Razak Omotoyossi 90th minute consolation in a 4-1 defeat to the Ivory Coast - from exiting with three losses and no goals scored. A positive display in qualifying, which included a famous 1-0 win against Ghana, means greater things are expected this time.
Qualification: Benin joined World Cup qualification in the second round, and found it a real battle to make it out of Group C but eventually progressed with a game to spare. They finished two points ahead of Uganda and Angola. In the final round, they were drawn with Ghana, Mali and Sudan. While Ghana made it to South Africa with plenty to spare it was Benin who finished in second place. They got the away game in Accra out of the way first but lost two of their first three games with defeat in Mali. They dropped just two more points, with a draw in the return against Mali, to go through.
One to watch: Stéphane Sessegnon - 25-year old Sessegnon was the star of the Squirrel's 2008 African Cup of Nations campaign, sealing a summer move to French giants Paris Saint Germain after several eye-catching performances. The highly-rated playmaker has since established himself in the PSG midfield alongside French World Cup winner Claude Makelele and Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti has been rumoured to be weighing up a move for the tough-tackling midfielder.
Trivia: Striker Razak Omotoyossi -Benin's top scorer in qualifying - was born and raised in Nigeria to Nigerian parents, but fled the country after being handed a five-year football ban for allegedly attacking a referee during a Nigerian league match involving Enyimba and Sunshine Stars. It was proved that the claim was false and the ban was lifted but by then he had settled in Benin and took up the offer to play for the Squirrels.
Soccernet prediction:- The team is definitely a work in progress but, on the bright side, both Benin and Mozambique now both have an excellent chance to record their first Nations Cup win when they take on each other. Group stage exit.
Goalkeepers: Djidonou Yoann (Libourne FC), Chitou Rachad (Wikki Tourists), Amoussou Valre (Mogas 90)
Defenders: Adenon Khaled (SEC Bastia), Adou Mouftaou (ASPAC), Akakpo Comlanvi (Tonnerre), Boco Romuald (Sligo Rovers), Chrysostome Damien (Denizlispor), Imorou Emmanuel (Gueugnon FC), Johnson Reda (Plymouth Argyle FC), Salomon Junior (ASPAC), Singbo Felicien (Lokomotiv Plovdiv)
Midfielders: Adanhoume Gerard (Soleil FC), Ahoueya Jocelyn (Sion FC), Koukou Djiman (Evian TG FC), Tchomogo Seidah (East Riffa), Angan Pascal (WAC Casablanca), Kobena Nouhoum, (Al Madina Tripoli), Ogunbiyi Mouritala (EA Guingamp), Seka Arnaud (Tonnerre), Sessegnon Stephane (Paris SG)
Strikers: Aoudou Mohamed (Evian TG FC), Omotoyossi Razak (Metz FC), Pote Mickael (OGC Nice)