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Marcotti's Musings

African Nations Cup 2010

Group D: Cameroon | Gabon | Zambia | Tunisia

Group A | Group B | Group C | Group D |



Coach: Paul Le Guen
Captain: Samuel Eto'o
Nickname: The Indomitable Lions
Cup record: Winners 1984, 1988, 2000, 2002; Qualified 16 times

One of the big favourites for this year's competition, the four-time winners are searching for their first title since recording back-to-back wins in 2000 and 2002. The Indomitable Lions have reached the quarter-finals in the past six African Nations Cups, and they are aiming to avenge a painful defeat to Egypt in the 2008 final. The likes of Jean Makoun, Samuel Eto'o and veteran Rigobert Song all provide valuable experience and in Paul Le Guen, they easily have the most renowned head coach of all the competitiors.

Qualification: With Otto Pfister at the helm, Cameroon cruised through their opening African qualification group, as Samuel Eto'o scored six goals in six games. But they failed to maintain their form and after a 1-0 away defeat to Togo and a home draw with Morocco in their opening two games, Pfister was sacked and former Lyon boss Paul Le Guen appointed. The Indomitable Lions experienced a revival in fortunes with Le Guen at the helm as, helped greatly by the scoring exploits Eto'o, they recorded four successive victories, including the 2-0 away win away to Morocco that secured top spot in the group and qualification for a African-record sixth World Cup finals.

One to watch: Samuel Eto'o - The striker burst onto the international scene as a fresh-face 20-year-old in the 2000 Nations Cup, netting four goals as the Indomitable Lions triumphed. Now the competition's all-time leading scorer with 16 strikes and having won the Golden Boot at the last two tournaments, the Inter Milan striker will be spearheading Cameroon's assault on a fifth title.

Trivia: Former captain and defensive stalwart Rigobert Song is the leading appearance maker in African Nations Cup history - this will be his eighth tournament.

Soccernet prediciton: With a wealth of experience and quality, and a taste for revenge after losing the 2008 final, Paul Le Guen's side have what it takes to go all the way to the final. Losing finalists.

Goalkeepers: Carlos Kameni (Espanyol), Hamidou Souleymanou (Kayserispor), Guy N'Dy Assembe (Valenciennes)

Defenders: Rigobert Song (Trabzonspor), Geremi (Newcastle United), Henri Bedimo (Chateauroux), Andre Bikey (Burnley), Benoit Assou-Ekotto (Tottenham Hotspur) Aurelien Chedjou (Lille), Nicolas N'koulou (AS Monaco)

Midfielders: Alex Song (Arsenal), Jean Makoun (Lyon), Stephane M'bia (Marseille), Georges Mandjeck (1. FC Kaiserslautern), Joel Matip (Schalke 04), Eyong Enoh (Ajax), Landry N'guemo (Celtic), Achille Emana (Real Betis), Somen A Tchoyi (Red Bull Salzburg)

Forwards: Paul Alo'o Efloulou (AS Nancy), Achille Webo (Real Mallorca), Mohamadou Idrissou (SC Freiburg), Samuel Eto'o (Internazionale)


Coach: Alain Giresse
Captain: Daniel Cousin
Nickname: Black Panthers
Cup record: Quarter-finals 1996; Qualified four times

A first appearance in ten years comes after an excellent qualifying campaign, and Alain Giresse's men will be looking to do considerably better than a decade ago, when the Black Panthers finished bottom of the group - a 0-0 draw against DR Congo providing their only "bright spark". Gabon's best performance was at the 1996 tournament - mainly because of Nigeria's withdrawal for political reasons - when they scraped through their group before being knocked out of the quarter-finals on penalties by losing finalists Tunisia. In 2008, the Black Panthers have a chance for revenge, after being drawn in the same group as the Carthage Eagles, and after coming close to an unexpected World Cup finals berth, they have a real chance of emulating their 1996 achievement.

Qualification: After joining Ghana in qualifying from the first group stage despite both teams finishing level on 12 points with Libya, who were eliminated by virtue of an inferior record, Gabon challenged strongly for a place at the World Cup before missing out on the final matchday when losing 1-0 away at Togo to finish second in the group. Cameroon took top spot in Group A but beating Morocco home and away was key for Gabon as they joined Togo in reaching the African Cup of Nations finals.

One to watch: Daniel Cousin - The Hull City striker, on loan at QPR, will be relishing regular football having made only one start and two substitute appearances in the Premiership this season. His eye for goal, underlined by a successful spell with Rangers, combined with the attacking threat of rising star Pierre Emerick Aubameyang could make the Black Panthers dark horses.

Trivia: Gabon coach Alain Giresse played for France in the 1982 and 1986 World Cups and won the 1984 European Championship with les Bleus, forming the legendary "Carré Magique" (Magic Square) in midfield with Michel Platini, Luis Fernandez and Jean Tigana. Giresse was the first ever player to take a penalty in a World Cup shoot-out, successfully converting in France's 5-4 spot-kicks defeat to West Germany in the 1982 semi-finals.

Soccernet prediction: An impressive qualifying campaign has shown that this side has fantastic potential; expect them to be this year's surprise package. Quarter-finals.


Goalkeepers: Yves Bitseki Moto (US Bitam), Claude Boris Nguema (Telestars), Didier Ovono (Le Mans)

Defenders: Ernest Akouassaga (Nantes), Georges Ambourouet (Makedonija Skopje), Moise Brou Apanga (Brest), Arsene do Marcolino (Les Herbiers), Bruno Ecuele Manga (Angers), Rodrigue Moudounga (Mangasport), Erwin Nguema (Coton Sport)

Midfielders: Alain Djissikadie (TP Mazembe Englebert), Thierry Issiemou (US Monastir), Paul Kessany (Istres), Bruno Zita Mbanangoye (Sivasspor), Cedric Moubamba (Dhofar), Stephane Nguema (Stade Rennes), Arsene Copa (Gyor ETO, Hungary)

Forwards: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (OSC Lille), Willy Aubameyang (Eupen), Daniel Cousin (Hull City), Fabrice do Marcolino (Laval), Roguy Meye (Ankaraspor), Eric Mouloungui (Nice) (Editing by Peter Rutherford)

ZAMBIA Coach: Hervé Renard
Captain: Christopher Katongo
Nickname: Copper Bullets
Cup record: Runners up 1974, 1994; Qualified 14 times

Zambia's Nations Cup history is an emotional one, with the incredible 1994 final forever etched on the minds of Copper Bullets fans. The nation, stood on the brink of qualification for the 1994 World Cup when the plane - carrying the team to Senegal for a qualifying match - crashed in Gabon, killing the entire squad. The team that carried the torch of their fallen comrades following the disaster was packed full of young players, and despite failing to qualify for USA '94, they threw off the shackles at the 1994 Nations Cup, beating defending champions Ivory Coast in the group stages before seeing off Senegal and Mali (in a 4-0 thrashing) to reach the final. It was an astonishing feat and when the Copper Bullets took the lead against Nigeria it seemed the impossible might happen. But an Emmanuel Amuneke brace broke the hearts of not only Zambia, but the whole of the continent who had been routing for them.

Qualification: Zambia advanced from a group of just three teams in the second round, one of those nations being minnows Swaziland. Zambia lost their opening group match in Togo then could only draw in Swaziland but topped their group by winning their other two qualifiers at home. In the final round, they were unfortunate to be paired with strong pair Egypt and Algeria. But the Copper Bullets only had to hold off Rwanda to take the final spot at the African Nations Cup. They won the home match with Rawnda 1-0 and a 0-0 draw in the return secured a place in Angola. One to watch: Christopher Katongo - The 27-year-old striker, currently plying his trade at Bundesliga side Arminia Bielefeld, shot to fame when he fired a match-winning hat-trick in a World Cup qualifier against South Africa in 2007. Now captain, his pace and direct style will make him a handful for opposition defenders.

Trivia: Zambia hold the record for the most Nations Cup appearances - 13 in total - without winning the event. The landlocked country situated in the south of the African continent came close to lifting the trophy twice, but victory eluded them in 1974 and two decades later in 1994.

Soccernet prediction: Another team that will relish the underdog tag, Zambia's Nations Cup pedigree is considerably better than many of their fellow minnows. Relying on a tight defence, which conceded just six goals in ten qualifying matches, Zambia will be hard to break down but another underdog story is unlikely. Group stage exit.


Goalkeepers: Jacob Banda (Zesco Utd), Kalililo Kakonje (AmaZulu), Kennedy Mweene (Free State Stars)

Defenders: Dennis Banda (Green Buffaloes), Hichani Homoonde (Tout Puissant Mazembe), Chintu Kampamba (Free State Stars) Joseph Musonda (Golden Arrows), Emmanuel Mbola (Pyunik Yerevan), Thomas Nyirenda (Zanaco)

Midfielders: Isaac Chansa (Helsingborg), Noah Chivuta (Maritzburg Utd), Rainford Kalaba (Uniao Leiria), Francis Kasonde (Al-Suwaiq), Felix Katongo (Mamelodi Sundown), Clifford Mulenga (Mpumalanga Black Aces), William Njobvu (Hapoel Kiryat Shmone), Stopilla Sunzu (Zanaco)

Strikers: James Chamanga (Dalian Shide), Christopher Katongo (Arminia Bielefeld), Emmanuel Mayuka (Maccabi Tel Aviv), Collins Mbesuma (Moroka Swallows), Jacob Mulenga (Utrecht), Given Singuluma (Mazembe)


Coach: Faouzi Benzarti
Captain: Karim Haggui
Nickname: Carthage Eagles
Cup record: Winners 2004; Qualified 14 times

You can still hear the groans of disappointment in Tunis, as Faouzi Benzarti's still struggle to come to terms with the fact that they handed Nigeria World Cup qualification on a silver platter, losing 1-0 to minnows Mozambique in their final game to miss out on the finals in South Africa. One of the more established powers in African football, it may come as surprise that the Carthage Eagles have won the Nations Cup just once, a feat that occurred when they hosted the competition in 2004. Two quarter-finals appearances have followed but it has been tough for the Carthage Eagles to take as they could only watch on on both occasions as North-African rivals Egypt usurped them as kings of the continent. With a team containing plenty of European-based players, Tunisia have the tools at their disposal to make a good showing in Angola.

Qualification: The Carthage Eagles were one of the eight best runners-up in the first group stage, finishing second in Group 9 after losing at home and drawing away to Burkina Faso, who took top spot. Their challenge for World Cup qualification went down to the final day but they suffered heartbreak when squandering first place by losing 1-0 in Mozambique. Nigeria therefore had to beat Kenya to finish top and saw Obafemi Martins score with eight minutes remaining in a 3-2 win over Kenya to condemn Tunisia to second.

One to watch: Ousemma Darragi - With Tunisia missing arguably their best player, Yassine Chikhaoui, through injury, the 2008/09 Tunisian Player of the Year will be the attacking heartbeat of the North African's efforts. The 22-year-old midfielder, highly regarded for his flair and vision, has been the subject of mounting interest from several European sides and an impressive showing will surely seal a move to the continent.

Trivia: Tunisia became the first African team to win a game at the World Cup, coming from behind to beat Mexico 3-1 in their first ever Finals match at the 1978 event in Argentina.

Soccernet prediction: Faouzi Benzarti's side will be seething after throwing away World Cup qualification in November, but with Gabon promising to spring a surprise, the Carthage Eagles may be going home early.


Goalkeepers: Farouk Ben Mustapha (CA Bizerte), Aymen Mathlouthi (Etoile Sahel), Adel Nefzi (Club Africain)

Defenders: Yassine Mikari (Sochaux), Souhail Ben Radhia (Etoile Sahel), Khelil Chammam (Esperance), Radhouene Felhi (1860 Munich, Germany), Karim Haggui (Hannover 96), Bilel Ifa (Club Africain), Ammar Jemel (Etoile Sahel), Khaled Souissi (Club Africain)

Midfielders: Chaouki Ben Saada (Nice, France), Oussama Darragi (Esperance), Chadi Hammami (CS Sfaxien), Khaled Korbi (Esperance), Haithem Mrabet (CS Sfaxien), Mohamed Ali Nafkha (Etoile Sahel), Hocine Ragued (Slavia Prague)

Forwards: Ahmed Akaichi (Etoile Sahel), Amine Chermiti (Al Ittihad Jeddah, Saudi Arabia), Zouheir Dhaouadi (Club Africain), Issam Jomaa (Racing Lens, France), Youssef Msakni (Esperance).


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