Wednesday, January 18, 2012

African Cup of Nations: Previews

It's a tournament perhaps more striking for who isn't there than who is. Of the last nine winners, eight have failed to make it to Gabon and Equatorial Guinea for the 28th African Cup of Nations. There's no Egypt, derailed by the uprising against Hosni Mubarak; there's no South Africa, eliminated by its own stupidity; and there's no Cameroon or Nigeria, eventually worn down by years of confused and chaotic administration. South Africa, which played for a draw in its final game when it needed a win to qualify, having failed to understand the criteria for qualification, take the prize for incompetence, but this Gotterdammerung has been coming for some time. For all the top players leaving Africa, and particularly West Africa, for Europe, the national game has been held back by inept and often corrupt leadership. This is the result. The question is whether those who have risen to replace the traditional giants are any better. Is this a case of a broadening of Africa's talent base, or of the sides who were once good sliding into mediocrity?

Jonathan Wilson's Preview

Group Capsules

Team Capsules

Five Players to Watch

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