So less than 2 weeks until kick-off for Africa Cup of Nations 2015! A tournament, even by CAF standards, which has been anything but smooth sailing in it’s preparation. With Morocco’s last-minute, albeit understandable, withdrawal from hosting the tournament, due to the Ebola epidemic and an evident lack of forthcoming nations looking to step into the North African Kingdom’s shoes, (South Africa, Ghana, Sudan and Egypt all declined offers to host on the same basis) it seemed the tournament may not even go ahead.
But it was Equatorial Guinea to the rescue, the Central African Republic deemed able to host the 2015 edition of the tournament due to it’s co-hosting duties (alongside Gabon) being completed in exemplary fashion in 2012. Much has been made of the political situation in the country, many opposing President Obiang Nguema, Africa’s longest serving dictator and his perceived misuse of vast amounts of oil money, with the majority of the country’s population currently living in poverty.
The Equatorial Guinea national team themselves had failed to qualify for the tournament, having been expelled after the first round of qualification. The Nzalang Nacional had dispensed with Mauritania 3-1 over two legs but had fielded an illegible player, Thierry Fidjeu. But with Morocco now suspended from the tournament due to the hosting refusal, and obviously the qualification rights of host nations, an 11th hour reprise for the 2012 Quarter-Finalists showed itself in unexpected fashion. So the show goes on, as only an international football tournament can…at all costs and by any means necessary! On February 8th the new African Champions will be crowned and it will be a new holder, with the holders Nigeria unbelievably failing to make it through qualification, and it will undoubtedly be the culmination of 3 weeks of intense passion, skill, controversy, excitement and above all tournament football at it’s best.
Anyways, leading up to the tournament I’ll be looking at all the qualified teams, giving you some statistics and of course some predictions, hope you enjoy