The group appears a little bit easy for Champions Zambia and 1994 winners Nigeria but Burkina Faso and Cecafa representatives Ethiopia must not be taken lightly. Besides Burkina Faso, the rest have ever been winners of Africa’s biggest soccer show piece (Nigeria 1988 and 1994), Ethiopia 1962 and Zambia 2012.  Kawowo Sports’ Ismael Kiyonga takes a closer look at the group and analyses each nation’s chances in South Africa. Let’s get started:


Previous appearances at Nations Cup: 15

Best performance: Champions 2012

FIFA rankings December 2012: 34

Coach: Herve Renard – He led the Chipolopolo to their first victory in the African Cup Of Nations in 2012, beating favourites Senegal in the group stages and Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire in the semi-final and final respectively. His knowledge of African football is un questioned after spells with Angola too in 2010. He knows his team very well and his relationship with the players is perhaps the reason Zambia performs well.

Man to Watch: Rainford Kalaba (TP Mazembe). Age: 26. Position: Midfielder

He is the most gifted and talented midfielder of the Chipolopolo. Nicknamed ‘Master’ by the Zambian fans for his trickery and ball passing skills, Kalaba will be the man expected to be the creative force in the team as they seek to defend their championship.

Prediction: They are champions and as expected will be among the favourites for the title. They have a team that has been together for some time but have not fared well in international games prior to the tournament. Nevertheless, in Renard, Kalaba, Katongo and other staff, you can only write them off at your own risk though I guess it will be difficult to win back to back titles.


Previous Nations Cup appearances: 8

Best performance: Fourth place 1998

Fifa ranking December 2012: 89

Coach: Paul Put – Put is not new to African football as he managed Gambian national team between 2007 and 2011, before being appointed as manager of Burkina Faso in March 2012. He had previously managed Belgian club sides Geel, Lokeren and Lierse, before being banned for three-years by the Royal Belgian Football Association for his alleged involvement in the Ye Zheyun match-fixing scandal. He has a huge task of over powering Zambia, Nigeria and Ethiopia but who knows.

Man to Watch: Moumouni Dagano (Al Sariya Sport Club). Age: 32. Position: Forward

Dagano made his international debut in 1999. He was a member of the Burkinabé2004 African Nations Cup team, who finished bottom of their group in the first round of competition, thus failing to secure qualification for the quarter-finals.

He was the joint top goalscorer of the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign with 12 goals along with Fijian striker Osea Vakatalesau. He will be the team’s secret weapon.

Prediction: With Zambia and Nigeria placed in the same group, Burkina Faso appears only third favourites but in football, anything can happen. It will be hard for them to make it out of this group.


Previous Nations Cup appearances: 17

Best performance: Champions 1988 and 1994

Fifa rankings December 2012: 57

Coach: Stephen Keshi: He worked as manager of the Mali national football team, after being appointed in April 2008 on a two-year deal but was sacked in January 2010, after Mali’s early exit in the group stages of the Africa Cup of Nations. On 2 November 2011 he was named the new coach of the Nigerian National Team and helped the team to qualify for afcon 2013 in a whitewashing over Liberia the match ended 6-1. He has a huge task of elevating Super Eagles back to the top of African football ladder. Previously, he had led Togo to their first ever appearance at the World Cup in 2006.

Man to watch: Victor Moses (Chelsea). Age: 22. Position: Forward 

In the absence of Westbromwich star Peter Odemwengie, the burden of finding goals for the Super Eagles. It will be Moses’ first major taste of African football but given his exploits in the premier league, he will be the side’s key player. 

Prediction: They are no longer the big boys of African football but remain favourites along with Zambia to advance from this group. However, they will find almost equal opposition in Burkina Faso and Ethiopia for a berth in the last eight.


Previous Nations Cup appearances: 10

Best performance: Champions 1962

Fifa ranking December 2012: 102

Coach: Sewnet Bishaw – He achieved regional success with the Ethiopia national football team in 2005 when he won the CECAFA Cup during his first spell as manager.

In October 2011 Sewnet was re-appointed to the position after the resignation of Belgian coach Tom Saintfiet. A year later, he helped Ethiopia qualify for their first Africa Cup of Nations tournament since 1982

Man to Watch: Degu Debebe – He debuted for Ethiopia in 2003. With 44 caps he is one of the most capped players in Ethiopian history. He is also the captain of the team. Degu is a model of consistency, rarely making errors and has helped the club win 6 Premier League titles.

Prediction: Ethiopia will be making her first appearance at Africa Nations Cup since 1982 and will find it hard to surpass Champions Zambia, 1982 and 1994 winners Nigeria and 1998 hosts Burkina Faso. I will be surprised if they make it out of the group?

Senior Staff writer at Kawowo Sports mainly covering football

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