AFCON 2013 GROUP A PREVIEW;


Sometimes I want to upload pictures of footballers getting silly but I realise I got no money to even hire a local lawyer myself should I get into trouble; so would I even survive an international court? Hahaha it’s a fact I wouldn’t.
My AFCON ticket that I ordered meanwhile couldn’t make it to my desk due to what I would call “footballing reasons” thus my wish of giving out tickets to a few guys might never be granted but now without any tickets and any lawyer to bail me out of my mess; Here is the best I could offer- your 2013 Group A preview.
 
                                                                                                                                  
SOUTH AFRICA
FIFA RANKING; 87
Manager; Gordon Igesund
Record Breaking manager- he remains the only man to coach four different top-flight teams to the Premier Soccer League championship . At 56 he will be seeking to help his lead his mother land to their second ever title having won the first in 1996 on home soil.
Squad;
Itumeleng Khune,Wayne Sandilands,  Senzo Meyiwa.
Bongani Khumalo, Siyabonga Sangweni, Anele Ngcongca, Tsepo Masilela, Siboniso Gaxa, Thabo Nthethe, Thabo Matlaba.
Kagisho Dikgacoi, Dean Furman, Reneilwe Letsholonyane, Oupa Manyisa, Siphiwe Tshabalala, May Mahlangu, Thulani Serero, Lerato Chabangu, Thuso Phala.
Bernard Parker, Tokelo Rantie, Lehlohonolo Majoro, Katlego Mphela.
Players to watch; Tshabala (Goosebumps every time his wonder strike against Mexico on the opening game of the World Cup in 2010 is mentioned), Bongani Khumalo (Sad he’s had to be loaned for the last three seasons but it seems South African players don’t do well at White Hart Lane, following Piennar’s retirement he’s been handed the armband)
Outlook;
South Africa has failed to qualify for the last editions of the AFCON and is taking part in this edition as host country. Having to live with the retirement of leading star Steven Piennar and the fact that Benni McCarthy might never make a return in the national colours; this South African side has the hardest job of delivering a second title in their backyard after missing out on the World Cup title in 2010 having also hosted it.
Blessed with electrifying pace; expect a 4-4-2 formation with the wingers always cutting right behind defenders and long range shots and pin point headers crowning their attacking intent every time they go forward. But just as rightly called for by most South African’s in recent time, their strikers have been more decent in front of goal; in their words ‘The striking needs to get more ugly.’’ Coach Igesund is well known in footballing circles as a performer; should he deliver this title to the rainbow nation it would sure cap an exciting sporting period in this decade for South Africa.
ANGOLA
FIFA RANKING; 84
Coach; Gustavo Ferrín
Appointed in July 2012 by the Angolan Football Federation; the 53 year old Uruguayan will seek to lead his side to their first AFCON title having been able to qualify for the tournament five times in a row now. Backed by the Angolan football federation; it is believed that his future as Angola coach doesn’t lie on the results of this tournament as he was signed on the perspective of long term work and not according Angola’s participation in the Africa Cup of Nations final phase.
Squad;
Lamas (Petro Atletico), Landu (Recreativo Libolo), Neblu (Primeiro Agosto)
Amaro, Bastos (Primeiro Agosto), Dani Massunguna (Primeiro Agosto), Fabricio (InterClube), Lunguinha (Kabuscorp), Marco Airosa (AEL Limassol), Mingo Bille, Pirolito (both InterClube), Zuela (Apoel Nicosia)
Dede, Gilberto (both AEL Limassol), Manucho Dinis (Primeiro Agosto), Manuel (AS Aviacao), Miguel (Petro Atletico)
Djalma (Kasimpassa), Geraldo (Parana), Guilherme Afonso (FC Vaduz), Manucho (Real Valladolid), Mateus (Nacional), Yano (Progresso Sambizanga).
Player to watch; Manucho (well, you don’t play for Manchester United and nobody stops to notice you. Though he did move on and now plies his trade in Spain, he’s still one of the reasons why Angola can have hope in this tournament despite previous results)
Outlook;
Guilherme Afonso has been a surprise inclusion in this squad despite having two caps for Switzerland at U21 level. At 27, the whole continent will watch whether his partnership with Manucho upfront can add to the tally of goals for Angola and lead them to what would be their first ever AFCON title.
In the 2012 campaign; one great problem about this side was their creativity in the middle of the pack but credit to them they did manage to score in their first two matches before losing out to Ivory Coast two nil finishing third in their group. Should they step up further at the back and maintain their attacking form a quarter final slot or even a semi-final place wouldn’t be a surprise.
MOROCCO
FIFA RANKING; 74
Coach; Rachid Taoussi
Has been coach in the Moroccan coaching system for some time now having managed the U17 side in 93-95, assistant manager between 95 and the year 2000. IN between he served as coach of the U20 and U23 sides leading the U21 to the Africa Youth Championship title in 97. He takes over after a fine stint as club coach of several clubs but notably MAS Fez in which he won CAF Confederation Cup, CAF super Cup and the Coupe du Trone.
Squad;
Khalid Askri (Raja Casablanca), Nadir Lamyaghri (Wydad Casablanca), Anas Zniti (Maghreb Fes)
Younes Belakhdar, Abderahim Achchakir (both Royal Armed Forces), Zakarya Bergdich (RC Lens), Abdelhamid El Kaoutari (Montpellier), Mehdi Benatia (Udinese), Issam El Adoua (Vitoria Guimaraes), Ahmed Kantari (Stade Brest)
Adil Hermach (Al Hilal Riyadh), Karim El Ahmadi (Aston Villa), Younes Belhanda (Montpellier), Mehdi Namli (Moghreb Tetouan), Kamel Chafni (Stade Brest), Chahir Belghazouani (Ajaccio), Abdelaziz Barrada (Getafe), Abdelilah Hafidi (Raja Casablanca)
Oussama Assaidi (Liverpool), Nordin Amrabat (Galatasaray), Abderrazak Hamdallah (Olympique Safi), Youssef El Arabi (Granada), Mounir El Hamdaoui (Fiorentina), Youssef Kaddioui (Royal Armed Forces).
Players to Watch; Younes Belhanda (plays for the French champions Montpellier and will be looked upon to conduct the midfield) Oussama Assaidi (Come on people; this boy plays for Liverpool in the UK; though he hasn’t been able to break into Liverpool’s first 11, he’s a great prospect Morocco can build upon)
Outlook;
It’s been 37 years since Morocco became Champions of Africa a feat they would love to repeat under Taoussi as they seek to bring back the glory days.
The dropping of Chamakh and Adel Taarabt might be viewed differently by Taoussi critics as an ingredient for failure but his bravery should be applauded- it’s simple. No player is greater than the club.
Another dropping that has received a lot of criticism is that of Kharja Aloussine who has since decide to take his war for ‘justice’ to the media. ‘’ I think Taoussi has lacked courage – during the past few months he has been very evasive with me, using excuses not to choose me such as the distance I must travel for matches. He then said he could not reach me on the phone before telling me he will not take me to the Africa Cup of Nations because I play in Qatar,” he said while speaking to reporters in Doha.
The coach though declined to speak on the matter and has since appointed Nadir Lamyaghri as captain replacing the dropped Kharja.
CAPE VERDE
FIFA RANKING; 69
Coach; Lucio Antunes
He has been Coach of the Cape Verde national team since 2010 and the decision by the federation to keep him has finally bore fruit as Cape Verde qualified for the AFCON for the first time in history. Between December 3-9 of 2012, he accepted an invite from Jose Mourinho to get some insight into the ‘special ones’ coaching methods.
Squad;
Fock (Petro Atletico), Rilly (Mindelense), Vozinha (Progresso Sambizanga)
Carlitos (AEL Limassol), Fernando Varela (FC Vaslui), Gege (Maritimo), Guy Ramos (RKC Waalwijk), Josimar (FC Dordrecht), Nando (Chateauroux), Nivaldo (Academica Coimbra), Pecks (Gil Vicente)
Babanco, David Silva (both Olhanense), Marco Soares (Omonia Nicosia), Odair Fortes (Stade Reims), Roni (Fola Esch), Stenio (Feirense), Toni Varela (Sparta Rotterdam)
Djaniny (Olhanense), Heldon (Maritimo), Julio Tavares (Dijon), Ryan Mendes (OSC Lille), Ze Luis (Sporting Braga).
Players to watch; Fernando Neves (Without really having to scratch my head he was going to be picked by a whole load of his countrymen as the payer to watch. Having joined the team in 2005, the 34 year old is probably viewed by many footballers as an inspiration and with his calm nature; expect some breath-taking performances from him as he marshalls his backline)
Ryan Mendes; another really good player.  At only 22, the winger has earned for himself a key role in the Cape Verde team and is likely to be a top attraction for local fans during the tournament. He plays for Lille in the French league and his strengths are clearly underlined in this quoted text by his coach ‘’ A player with great potential, who is goof in the air and uses body strength to shield the ball and bring it under control.’’
Outlook;
For lack of a better word – They are the reason Cameroon are not in this Africa Cup of Nations.
It’s never a question about how brilliant they are or how many home based players they have marshalled to stay together over time- no! Actually they have only one home based player in the squad. It’s the sheer determination and togetherness; the feeling that they are playing for Cape Verde and not just that, it’s the first time they are in this competition.
Silva Ricardo one of the shining lights in this side in recent time opted out of the squad to concentrate on club duty but I doubt if that will dampen the spirits of these boys. With a coach who’s also be part of the overall development of this side over time, even once coaching the U-21 side an upset might be in the offing in that opening match.
It’s never easy for me to make predictions but someone bailed me out today. My friend and football fan @gabrielOguda summarises this preview in his tweet.
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You might also be interested in AFCON GROUP B PREVIEW 
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