Undoubtedly the biggest underdogs at this year's tournament, Malawi are ranked 99th in the world and 23rd on the continent, but they take their place in the Nations Cup field ahead of the likes of Senegal, South Africa and Morocco. It is only the second time the Flames will compete in the tournament and their first appearance since 1984, when a 2-2 draw with Nigeria was the only highlight as they crashed out at the group stage. A 0-0 draw with fancied Ghana in a pre-tournament friendly shows that Malawi will be no pushovers.
Qualification: The Flames finished second behind Egypt in the first. Malawi were drawn in a tricky second-round group including the dominant Ivory Coast, Guinea -quarter-finalists in each of the past three Nations Cups -and Burkina Faso. Topping the group was never a realistic aim but a third-place finish was acclaimed as a resounding success, with the goals of Chiukeo Msowoya helping the Flames to an impressive 1-1 draw with the Elephants en route to securing their spot.
One to watch: Chiukepo Msowoya - The ESCOM United player is being tracked by a number of European clubs. At 21, the talented striker is a relatively inexperienced international player but inspired his more experienced Flames team-mates with six goals during the qualifying phases for this year's tournament. A bright future lays ahead for this young man.
Trivia: Leyton Orient's Tamika Mkandawire is regarded as one Malawi's best players but is prevented from playing for the country. He holds dual-citizenship in the UK - due to having Malawian father and English mother - but the country does not recognise dual-citizenship, meaning the League One star may never represent his father's country.
Soccernet prediction: Just being at the tournament - back among the continent's elite - is a massive achievement for the Flames, and they will have to be content with that as the others in Group A will prove too strong. Group Stage.
Goalkeepers: Simplex Nthala (Wanderers), Swadick Sanudi (Dynamos, South Africa), Charles Swini (ESCOM United).
Defenders: Moses Chavula (Nathi Lions), Elvis Kafoteka (ESCOM United), Allan Kamanga (Dynamos, Peter Mponda (Black Leopards), Maupo Msowoya (ESCOM United), Harry Nyirenda (Wanderers), James Sangala (Primeiro Agosto).
Midfielders: Davie Banda (Red Lions), Joseph Kamwendo (Orlando Pirates), Fisher Kondowe (Black Leopards), Hellings Mwakasungula (Silver Strikers), Robert Ngambi (Black Leopards), Jacob Ngwira (Carara Kicks), Peter Wadabwa (Thanda Royals Zulu).
Strikers: Esau Kanyenda (FC Kamaz), Chiukepo Msowoya (Deportivo Muculmana), Russell Mwafulirwa (IFK Norrkoping), Victor Nyirenda (ESCOM United), Atusaye Nyondo (Carara Kicks) and Jimmy Zakazaka (Bay United).
Coach: Rabah Saâdane
Captain: Yazid Mansouri
Nickname: The Desert Foxes
Cup record: Winners 1990; Qualified 14 times
Algeria's only African Nations Cup triumph came as hosts of the 1990 tournament, with goal from Chérif Oudjani enough to beat Nigeria 1-0 in the final. But since that victory, the Desert Foxes have never got past the quarter-finals, failing to qualify for the past two tournaments. Those two no-shows were made worse by the fact that bitter rivals Egypt took home the title on both occasions. But in November, Algeria took their revenge by qualifying for the World Cup at Egypt's expense and will now be determined to prove that they can be the dominant North-African team.
Qualification: The first qualifying group saw Senegal and Gambia held off before the final round drew them with Egypt. A 3-1 win against the Pharaohs put the Desert Foxes in the driving seat but the final group match against the African champions in Cairo saw Egypt secure a 2-0 victory and the two were tied at the top of the group. Both nations qualified ahead of Zambia in third, though a play-off was contested to decide which side would progress to the World Cup.
One to watch: Karim Ziani - The Wolfsburg playmaker was Algeria's top scorer in qualifying and played every game. A positive player, he has the ability to unlock defences with a pass or a dribble and provides valuable top-level experience having played in the Champions League for the current German champions and for previous club Marseille.
Trivia: The Desert Foxes made history in 1986 as the first African side to qualify for two World Cup Finals in succession. The side, containing the likes of Rabah Madjer and Lakhdar Belloumi, performed admirably at Spain '82 and Mexico '86, most notably defeating eventual runners-up West Germany 2-1 in the group stages of the 1982 tournament.
Soccernet prediciton: Expectations are high in Algeria after the successful qualifying campaign. They will come through this group but may come undone facing sides of better quality. Quarter finals.
Goalkeepers: Lounes Gaouaoui (ASO Chlef), Fawzi Chaouchi (ES Setif), Mohamed Amine Zemmamouche (MC Algiers)
Defenders: Slimane Raho (ES Setif), Madjid Bougherra (Rangers, Scotland), Rafik Halliche (Nacional, Portugal), Anthar Yahia (Bochum/Germany), Samir Zaoui (ASO Chlef), Abdelkader Laifaoui (ES Setif), Nadir Belhadj (Portsmouth, England), Reda Baabouche (MC Algiers)
Midfielders: Hassen Yebda (Portsmouth, England), Yazid Mansouri (Lorient), Khaled Lemmouchia (ES Setif), Mourad Meghni (Lazio), Karim Ziani (Wolfsburg), Karim Matmour (Borussia Monchengladbach), Yacine Bezzaz (Strasbourg, France), Hameur Bouazza (Blackpool), Djamal Abdoun (Nantes)
Forwards: Rafik Saifi (Al-Khor), Abdelkader Mohamed Ghezzal (Siena), Abdelmalik Ziaya (ES Setif)