Saturday, February 20, 2010

Soccer: Cape Verde, Mali, Zimbabwe and Liberia drawn in the same qualifying group for the 2012 African Nations Cup


On Saturday in Lubumbashi in the Democratic Republic of Congo, 44 African teams were drawn up into 11 groups which will battle out for 14 final places for the 2012 African Nations Cup. The 2012 African Nations Cup edition will take place in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. A total of 16 places are guaranteed in the final stage of the tournament. The co-hosts Gabon and Equatorial Guinea have already qualified automatically as the hosting countries for the tournament. Togo was not included in the process, as it was banned earlier this year by the CAF (African Confederation Football) from participating in the next two African Nations Cup tournaments, after the team exited the 2010 tournament in Angola even before the competion kick-off. Among the favorite teams to win the next edition of this All-African affairs are Egypt, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Cameroon and South Africa. However, Egypt is considered to be the front-runner among those favorites to win the tournament. Egypt is the current title holder and 7 times winner and a record third consecutive triumph. Egypt was drawn-up in the group 7 alongside a one-time winner South Africa.

This will be a great opportunity for the Cape Verdean national team nicknamed 'Blue Sharks" or "Creoles" to qualify for its first African Nations Cup tournament. Also, Cape Verde has had some previous experiences against Mali in the "Amilcar Cabral Cup" tournament previous editions as well as against Liberia during previous World Cup qualifiers. The island nation of Cape Verde has never qualified for the finals of the FIFA World Cup or the African Nations Cup tournaments. The team almost qualified for the African Nations Cup in 2006, at one time lying second in their qualifying group behind the continent footballing powerhouse South Africa. However, its national team has savored some success on the international stage. For the first time in its history, on 2 November 2002, it faced a non-African team, Luxembourg, in a friendly match, resulting in a scoreless draw. On September 4 2009, it faced Malta in another friendly, resulting in an 2-0 victory. The team has two titles: the "Amilcar Cabral Cup" that they won in 2000 and the Gold medal at 2009 edition of "Lusophone Games" that took place in Portugal. The team also has a bronze medal at 2006 "Lusophone Games". Their biggest win on the International stage came on a home soil victory over Guinea Equatorial on March 28 2009 by 5-0 and their worst defeat was to their neighboring rivals Senegal by 5-1 on February 12, 1981. With most of its players currently plying their trade in the various European professional football leagues, the island nation of Cape Verde plans to secure its first African Nations Cup berth. If achieved, that could be a tumultous victory that will certainly galvanize the team to chase their all-time dream, which is to secure a World Cup berth in the 2014 FIFA World Cup that will take place in Brazil.


Group 1: Mali, Cape Verde Islands, Zimbabwe, Liberia.

Group 2: Nigeria, Guinea, Ethiopia, Madagascar.

Group 3: Zambia, Mozambique, Libya, Comoros Islands.

Group 4: Algeria, Morocco, Tanzania, Central African Republic.

Group 5: Cameroon, Senegal, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mauritius.

Group 6: Burkina Faso, Gambia, Namibia, Mauritania.

Group 7: Egypt, South Africa, Sierra Leone, Niger.

Group 8: Ivory Coast, Benin, Rwanda, Burundi.

Group 9: Ghana, Congo, Sudan, Swaziland.

Group 10: Angola, Uganda, Kenya, Guinea Bissau.

Group 11: Tunisia, Malawi, Chad, Botswana.