It feels like only yesterday that Zambia stormed to their first ever Africa Cup of Nations title. The Chipolopolo beat the likes of Senegal, Ghana and Ivory Coast to become the 14th African nation to win the tournament.
No wonder I can remember the competition so well. For the first time, it is being held in consecutive years. Organizers decided to change the calendar so the tournament would not clash with the FIFA World Cup due to take place in Brazil next year.
So as Africa’s top players prepare to take to the field for the 29th edition of the competition, what or who should we look out for? Below is a look at some of the stories I will be following:
Last Chance Saloon for the Ivory Coast
It would be a shame for The Elephants’ golden generation to say goodbye to the game without winning the continent’s top competition. They reached the final in two of the last four editions only to lose on penalties to Egypt and Zambia respectively.
The likes of Yaya Toure and Didier Drogba will once again lead the way, but it is at the back where the Ivorians could struggle with the likes of Kolo Toure and Siaka Tiene past their prime.
Will the drought end for Ghana?
Can you believe the Black Stars have not lifted the trophy since 1982? It is difficult to understand how they have failed to live up to expectations time and time again. Pressure is on the manager, James Kwesi Appiah, to get the best out of the star players in his squad.
Asamoah Gyan (who has returned from international exile) and Kwadwo Asamoah have to live up to their reputations and take the lead. Watch out for talented youngster Christian Atsu who can surprise a lot of people with his pace and skill. The winger has put in some eye-catching performances at FC Porto.
Can Zambia perform an encore?
After surprising everyone with their title-winning run last year, what can we expect from the defending champions? The core of the team is still the same, so they should not be underestimated, but surely they can’t do it again?
Once again, captain Christopher Katongo will have to lead by example. He was by far the most influential player in their trophy-winning side.
Who can be the next African superstar?
Arsene Wenger recently said this was the only tournament in the world where managers could still find unknown young talents. Nowadays clubs have scouts spread all over Europe and South America, but Africa is a market that can still be explored. For example, how many players from Cape Verde, Niger, Burkina Faso or Ethiopia play in Europe’s top leagues? Not many.
In the Ethiopia squad, all but three of the players ply their trade in the domestic league. So I am sure scouts from all over the world will be in South Africa over the next month looking for the next Didier Drogba or Samuel Eto’o.
Well,all i can hope for is a Super Eagles victory in the finals!!!.
I am glad through out your article,there was no mention of Nigeria. Probably because in your reckoning,we are just there to make up the numbers. I sincerely hope we make you eat the humble pie and just as you eulogised Zambia,the Super Eagles would be the fulcrum of your opinion,when you will be preparing to write for the Morocco 2015 competition.
mm for me i use to investigate and audit so i could not predict but to see facts and evidence on my hand and let their performance show us who will be the next African superstar
Ethiopia's Presence just make me happy...Go Rasta boyz!
I think Ethiopia will be the surprise of the tournament God willing. I predict they will beat Zambia in their opening match.
I absolutely agree with Arsene Wenger,about talent search.
Many African countries,the Likes of Uganda have got so many young talents that can be exploited.South Africa 2013 Is the place to be.
Nigeria will do better this time around. We will lift the cup. All hail the Eagles of Nigeria. Good luck guys.
arsene wenger will only be in South Africa to catch them young and cheap, only to be sold at a higher price there by leaving Arsenal with shortage of players.But my bet will always go for the Super Eagles of Nigeria.
CAPE VERDE SOCCER IN 10 YEARS FROM NOW WILL BE ONE OF THE BEST IN AFRICA! I'M SO PROUD OF "THE BLUE SHARKS"!
hope for Zambia to repeat. It was such a great moment. With the core back and African Player of the year Chris "Captain Cool" Katongo leading, we should do it. Go Chipolopolo!
if ethiopian team put abdu wali and fuad ibrahim both on the fild we are garante we can go to the final both plyers they are profational yung player abdu wali from seattle wa souner team fuade ebrahim from mpls mn but plying for toronto canda
ethyopiyans. yes we r the winers .
its going to be a hurd competition! for sure all the teams are going to do the best thay can!!! zambia, ivory coast and ghana are strong teams......dont forget marroco, angola and of course S Africa since they are home!!!! at the same time teams like ethiopy and cape verde are going to surprise the world in this tornement
hope evory coast win cuz it will be dissapointing to see King Drogba not win this trophy before he retires, anyway cant wait for it to begin.
The year lived is caming . I,m rally happy for ethiopian . soccer is not like you can control. just watch or make histroy. NO BODY thought Zambia will win 2012 cup . however they won . I HOPE Ethoipan will be the champion .
waliyaa for ever .........
Walya Antelope/ethiopian were playing underdog, but now its time to show the reality for others...go Antelops...lets do it. I am sure they will beat zambia.
Zambian coach Herve Renard has a blend of experienced and in-form players in Jacob Mulenga, Collins Mbesuma and Katongo and an infusion of young players in Mukuka Mulenga, Emmanuel Mbola and others to count on for success.How Zambia begins the tournament will determine how far they will go. Should they begin with a bang against Ethiopia, I can see them going all the way to the semis and the final.
The new government has done its part in sorting out the thorny issues of players' bonuses before the tournament the same way it did last year.
Go on Copper Bullets win the cup and retain your wel deserved title – Champions of Africa. Zambians will be watching. You guys put Zambia on the map. A proud nation of only 13 million people, living in a country with one the 7 wonders of the world, the famous Victoria Falls of a proud people.
Abana ba Zambia we pray
I am very proud to be Ethiopia.
GHANA BLACKS STARS ARE GOING TO MAKE HISTORY AGAIN,Gyan don't disappoint us this time around.look forward seeing you with the cup home.
GO BLACK STARS,hope to see you with the cup,no more excuses this time,lol
Wake up Ghana, we need the cup the fifth time GUYS!!!
i dont think the current super eagle perfomance would not let them to go so far away . they 'll be out of the game by losing ethiopia .watch out supereagle.
Today we, the Blue Sharks, we have shown the world that we may be a small country but we are big as a nation! GO BLUE SHARKS!
issa hayatou should quit as the CAF president. how can he employ a crude/mediocre egyptian refree to officiate the match between Zambia and Nigeria?. African football has decayed under the care of hayatou.please FIFA should step into the matter and probe hayatou on the criteria that qualified the egyptian as an experienced refree.
Black Stars you are our shinshine so if you will kill yourselves to win the cup, do it. Let the light bright again in Ghana; we are backing you. God bless.
Well i dont think Ghana will fail this time . impressing me at the moment
this is the last chance for great players like the toure brothers drogba.so i am supporting for the glory of lifting the cup . im from trinidad and tobago
I think Ghana is going 2 win the Afcon! This is becoz of its sheer talent it possesses! Go the black stars...........goooooo........
In Africa Cup of Nations 2013 referees continue to make a series of highly controversial decisions. In the Ghana – Cape Verde quarter final clash, the referee named Rajindraparsad Seechurn made an erroneous decision by awarding Ghana a penalty after their striker collided with the Cape defender. The incident was clearly a collision between the two players chasing the ball. Neither was it an obstruction nor a pushing or shirt pulling. Both of them were not even aware of each other s position prior to the collision. Cape Verde Islands won 78 percent of the ball possession, unlucky not to score a goal, the team totally outclassedd Ghanian players, dominating all departments of the game. Ghana could not even bother the Cape Verde goal keeper with a single shot at goal. The 2 they had were blocked long before reaching the keeper. This Afcon debutants deserve credit, they played excellent football with confidence. They were denied victory by the referee, not the opponent team.
It appears like this referee had made up his mind that Ghana will emerge winners before the game started. He could not award free kicks to Cape Verde after Ghanians committed obvious fouls. The motive of the referee to decide to remove Cape Verde from Afcon is obviously financially related. If you are a football fan you would not have believed what was happening. Favoritism of the so called Big teams by referees has been a trend since the start of the Afcon 2013 in South Africa. During the game Ghana were awarded more than a dozen of free kicks after simply play acting, something which is categorized as a red card offense by FIFA statute.
CAF should immediately take action against this referee (Rajindraparsad Seechurn) after the reviewing the game video. We expect punishment no less than long term suspension, if not a permanent ban. This habit of favoring historically big teams would definitely bar the development of the game in Africa. The reason why African teams under-perform at the world cup is simply because they are used to qualifying with the help of referees. When they get to the world cup it is no longer the case.
Group B and Group C have provided the four semifinalists. Ghana, Mali, Nigeria and Burkino Faso all look good for the summit clash. Best wishes to the four in the SFs. Hard luck for Ivorian veterans Kolo, Yaya and Didier.
Hmm..The Nigerian PLAYERS did it this time to the detriment of the expectations of some people....
@george go ask Brazil, you can play all the good game you want but if you dont score then its a waste, Cape Verde played good,i will give u that, but Ghana was more tactical when we had to the ball plus yall got more free kicks in that one game than yall have had in all the games you played so how much did you really want from the referee, yall are coming up and will do good later on but you just played the wrong team at the wrong time, 2-0 is not luck, take it and live with it.GH4LIFE
OK..now i read the post on this blog and i was really dissapointed Nigeria name wasn't mentioned at all...u' ve forgotten so soon that Nigeria is the Giant of Africa, probably because the Team doesn't have the name of big players...so they can't carry the cup. Breaking news against all odds we made it..we beat cote d 'voire to the semi final clash with Mali..and we aiming for the cup...so kindly start to pen another article on how Nigeria won the cup for the 3rd time. thanks
Nigeria has triumphed!!!. Believe, yes.
Reblogged this on Ruler of the Richest.
I'm not surprised Super Eagles is not expected to scape through the group stages talkless of reaching the finals.If I must say Nigeria football performance has been declining since the last 10 years.I'm sured many football analyists would yet be wondering how Super Eagles managed to progress thus far.I guess there is a change of mentality of the new crop of young players from being over confident and from living in the past glory.
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