African Cup of Nations 2013 Group A Preview

The African Cup of Nations 2013 begins in 5 days with South Africa, the hosts, taking on tournament debutants Cape Verde. With the Zambian underdogs leaving Gabon triumphant in 2012, it goes to show that anyone can win this years trophy.

Sixteen teams have qualified for this years tournament and have been split into four groups of four.

Group A consists of South Africa, Cape Verde, Morocco and Angola.

Group B is Ghana, DR Congo, Mali and Niger.

Group C Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Zambia and Ethiopia.

Lastly Group D consists of Ivory Coast, Tunisia, Algeria and Togo.

Here is a run down of Group A (Odds from Skybet):

South Africa 7-1 – This years hosts have selected a relatively inexperienced 23 man squad with unusually only two English based players. They are Kagisho Dikgacoi, of Crystal Palace, and Dean Furman of Oldham Athletic. With Steven Pienaar retiring early this year, South Africa have lost their captain and ultimately their main man. However, they do have one player that can produce moments of magic and that is 28 year old, Kaizer Cheifs midfielder Siphiwe Tshabalala who scored the opening goal of the 2010 world cup that was also hosted by South Africa. With the home crowd behind them and if their key players perform, South Africa should progress past the group stages, however such is the inexperience of the squad, I can’t see much more.

Cape Verde 50-1 – A debut appearance at the African Cup of Nations for the Republic of Cape Verde, who beat Cameroon 3-2 in a play off on aggregate to qualify. Cape Verde have a hugely inexperienced side at this level of football. The majority of their 23 man squad are based in the lower leagues in Portugal. One player that may be worth keeping an eye on is 24 year old striker Heldon Nhuck who plays for Portuguese side Maritimo, who has scored 4 goals in 12 games for his country, albeit he has scored 4 in 44 for club.

Morocco 14-1 – Morocco have not won the African Cup of Nations for over 35 years and after easing their way through qualification they will be confident they can cause an upset at this years competition. Morocco do have some notable players in their 23 man squad with two coming from the English Premier League. Karim El Ahmadi of Aston Villa and Liverpool attacker Oussama Assaidi. The squad also includes, Tottenham transfer target, Younes Belhanda who is currently contracted to French side Montpellier, Belhanda will provide the creativity that would otherwise be missing after the omission of QPR midfielder Adel Taarabt. After last years 80-1 outsider winning the competition, 14-1 this time round for a strong Morocco team is worth a punt.

Angola 33-1– This is Angola’s seventh appearance at the Cup of Nations and their best finish to date is reaching the quarter finals in 2008 and again when they hosted the tournament in 2010. Their 23 man squad contains four players from the Cypriot league, one player from the Portuguese league, one from La Liga, one from the national league of Liechtenstein and one from the Brazilian league. The remainder of the squad all hail from the Angolan premier league, which, with all due respect is Sunday league compared to some players at this tournament. I expect that hard work and determination will give the Angolan fans something to shout about, but I can’t see them stamping their mark of this tournament.