Sports Features of Wednesday, 16 January 2013
Group D is composed of a little bit of West African and a little bit of North African flavour. Ivory Coast are favourites to progress as group winners over Tunisia, Algeria and Togo.
The Elephants quickly put themselves back together after dramatically losing to Zambia in the 2012 AFCON final. Ivory Coast are arguably the strongest side in Africa and their team sheet is the envy of many coaches.
The country is fortunate to have the likes of Yaya Toure, Didier Drogba and Gervinho present in the same generation. The one thing that is missing is an Africa Cup of Nations trophy. In December 2012, Didier Drogba exclusively told LiveSoccerTV.com that the title is not an obsession but his statement may only be a way to ease the pressure off Ivory Coast.
The Elephants go into the 2013 AFCON having tested their strength only once. That was on January 14 against former African champions Egypt. The outcome was positive as the Ivoirians triumphed 4-2. Their goal is clear this term: to open the flood gates and storm the continent. Spectators can expect a football feast anytime Ivory Coast will play.
2004 African champions Tunisia were given a strong signal by Ghana’s Black Stars on January 13 as they ended their warm-up run with defeat. The Eagles of Carthage are still waiting for their first win in the year 2013.
They must step up to the challenge if they want to avoid being among the first-round casualties. Since 1994, Tunisia have appeared at every single Nations Cup finals. They finished second in 1996 when South Africa last hosted the competition. Can they go one better this term?
Two decades have passed since Algeria lifted the AFCON trophy for the first and last time in history. At the time, the Algerians were among Africa’s strongest. Since then, they have become a rather average team, reaching the quarter-finals thrice and crashing out in Round 1 twice between 1996 and 2004.
In Angola 2010, the Desert Warriors went close to replicating their 1990 cup success. However, they finished fourth and failed to appear in the next AFCON edition co-hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. Chances to get out of Group C are perhaps not wide open but the Algerians will be keen to overshadow their North-African rivals Tunisia while Ivory Coast and Togo could pose serious problems.
Security at the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations will be very tight, according to the organizers of the tournament. The Togolese national team are expected to get over the CAN 2010 rebel attack which saw them withdraw from the competition.
Togo’s AFCON history is poor with six previous appearances resulting in six Round 1 fiascos. The Sparrow Hawks are still seeking their first ever quarter-final tickets. Will the Emmanuel Adebayor factor provide a miracle for Togo?
Group D matches
January 22, 2013: Cote d’Ivoire vs Togo
January 22, 2013: Tunisia vs Algeria
January 26, 2013: Cote d’Ivoire vs Tunisia
January 26, 2013: Algeria vs Togo
January 30, 2013: Algeria vs Cote d’Ivoire
January 30, 2013: Togo vs Tunisia