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Africa Cup of Nations 2015

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Groups


GROUP A: Burkina Faso, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Congo

GROUP B: Cape Verde, DR Congo, Tunisia and Zambia

GROUP C: Algeria, Ghana, Senegal and South Africa

GROUP D: Cameroon, Guinea, Ivory Coast and Mali

 

 

Saturday 17th January 2015

First Round Group A

Burkina Faso v Gabon 19:00 (n)

Equatorial Guinea v Congo 16:00

 

Sunday 18th January 2015

First Round Group B

Tunisia v Cape Verde Islands 19:00 (n)

Zambia v Congo DR 16:00 (n)

 

Monday 19th January 2015

First Round Group C

Algeria v South Africa 19:00 (n)

Ghana v Senegal 16:00 (n)

 

Tuesday 20th January 2015

First Round Group D

Ivory Coast v Guinea 16:00 (n)

Mali v Cameroon 19:00 (n)

 

Wednesday 21st January 2015

First Round Group A

Equatorial Guinea v Burkina Faso 16:00

Gabon v Congo 19:00 (n)

 

Thursday 22nd January 2015

First Round Group B

Cape Verde Islands v Congo DR 19:00 (n)

Zambia v Tunisia 16:00 (n)

 

Friday 23rd January 2015

First Round Group C

Ghana v Algeria 19:00 (n)

South Africa v Senegal 16:00 (n)

 

Saturday 24th January 2015

First Round Group D

Cameroon v Guinea 19:00 (n)

Ivory Coast v Mali 16:00 (n)

 

Sunday 25th January 2015

First Round Group A

Congo v Burkina Faso 18:00 (n)

Equatorial Guinea v Gabon 18:00

 

Monday 26th January 2015

First Round Group B

Cape Verde Islands v Zambia 18:00 (n)

Congo DR v Tunisia 18:00 (n)

 

Tuesday 27th January 2015

First Round Group C

Senegal v Algeria 18:00 (n)

South Africa v Ghana 18:00 (n)

 

Wednesday 28th January 2015

First Round Group D

Cameroon v Ivory Coast 18:00 (n)

Guinea v Mali 18:00 (n)

 

Saturday 31st January 2015

QUARTER FINAL

Group A Winner v Group B Second Place 16:00

Group B Winner v Group A Second Place 19:00

 

Sunday 1st February 2015

QUARTER FINAL

Group C Winner v Group D Second Place 16:00

Group D Winner v Group C Second Place 19:00

 

Wednesday 4th February 2015

SEMI-FINAL

Quarter-Final 1 Winner v Quarter-Final 4 Winner 19:00

 

Thursday 5th February 2015

SEMI-FINAL

Quarter-Final 2 Winner v Quarter-Final 3 Winner 19:00

 

Saturday 7th February 2015

3RD AND 4TH PLACE PLAY-OFFS

3rd Place Play Off 1 v 3rd Place Play Off 2 18:00

 

Sunday 8th February 2015

FINAL

Finalist 1 v Finalist 2 19:00

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TV


Live coverage of the 2015 African Cup of Nations on TV will be shown on ITV4 and British Eurosport. ITV4 will show a deciding game from each group, both semi-finals and the final live. British Eurosport will broadcast all 32 games live from the tournament including the African Cup of Nations final on TV.


 


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GROUP A: Burkina Faso, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Congo

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Paul Put’s Burkina Faso face a tough opening game against Gabon in the Africa Cup of Nations. Photograph: Guy Jeffroy/Rex Favourites

History counsels against basing predictions on the squads who have the most names at top European clubs. The teams who tend to do well in the Africa Cup of Nations are those with well-established methods, invigorating spirit and players with proven understandings and, for that reason, Burkina Faso are a reasonable tip to go far.

Paul Put’s team played with cohesion and real flamboyance when they surprisingly swept their way to the final in 2013 and most of the key players remain. Jonathan Pitroipa, the top scorer two years ago, was the continent’s leading scorer again in qualifying and will be integral to the Stallions’ attack.

Burkina’s performances over the past two years have generally been of the same exciting standard they produced in South Africa but they finished only second in their qualifying group – and they will face the team who finished above them, Gabon, in their opening match.

The result could go a long way to deciding who finishes first in Group A and if Burkina are to get the victory they failed to get against Gabon in qualifying (when they lost in Libreville and drew at home), they will have to find a better way to deal with the speed of forwards such as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Malick Evouna.

 

Dark horse

A regular category title for tournament previews, though perhaps a confusing one in a tournament featuring Stallions, Panthers, Elephants and assorted Lions.Gabon are the most likely team to beat Burkina to the top but Congo could pose a serious challenge to both teams.

They began their campaign by becoming the first side in 33 years to win a qualifier in Nigeria and although they lost at home to the Super Eagles and were beaten by South Africa, they did enough to finish second in their group.

With Claude Le Roy managing in his eighth Africa Cup, Congo will have an experienced guide and they also have some dangerous attackers, particularly the former France youth international striker Thievy Bifouma, who has had a big impact since making his debut last August.

 

Coach to watch

It is farcical and outrageous that this tournament was given to Equatorial Guineaafter Morocco withdrew from hosting it, and not only because Teodoro Obiang, who is in the 35th year of his rule, is no more deserving of having such prestige conferred on him than he was when his country co-hosted the tournament in 2012.

The purely sporting reason for opposing the award of the tournament to Equatorial Guinea is that they were kicked out of the qualifiers for fielding an ineligible player in the first-round victory over Mauritania. Given their record of using players of dubious suitability, reinstating them as hosts was ridiculous, even if taking the tournament to Qatar, as mooted, was hardly preferable.

Now they are back in, the authorities are determined that their team put on a strong showing and were so alarmed at the side’s form in warm-up games they sacked manager Andoni Goikoetxea three weeks ago. He has been replaced byEsteban Becker Churukian, the Argentinian who guided the country’s women’s team to unexpected success on home soil three years ago.

 

Player to watch

Such is the hope Burkina Faso’s fans have invested in Bertrand Traoré – who has lavish potential and whose brother, Alain, has been excellent for the country when not injured – there was huge disappointment at the player’s subdued influence in the qualifiers. Put retains faith in the Chelsea player, who is on loan at Vitesse Arnhem, because he expects it is only a matter of time before the 19-year-old becomes a force at international level. Now would be an ideal moment for the youngster to find top form.

 

Commentator’s kit

Javier Balboa was born in Spain, the country to which his family moved shortly after his grandparents were killed for taking part in a coup aimed at overthrowing the first president of Equatorial Guinea, Francisco Macías Nguema. Balboa plays for Estorial but began his career at Real Madrid where another of Equatorial Guinea’s forwards, the left-winger Rubén Belima, plays (the B team, in the Spanish second division). Belima is not to be confused with another of the hosts’ forwards, Rubén Dario, who is one of three players in the squad from the not very ferocious sounding local club “Leones Vegetarianos (“Vegetarian Lions”).

 

 

GROUP B: Cape Verde, DR Congo, Tunisia and Zambia

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Cape Verde’s coach Luís Antunes celebrates his side reaching the Afcon quarter-finals in 2013, the story of the tournament two years ago. Photograph: Siphiwe Sibeko/REUTERS Favourites

Tunisia – the Carthage Eagles – have enjoyed a mighty upswing in form under the management of George Leekens, who led them to the top of a very difficult qualifying group that included Senegal and Egypt. Seldom spectacular, they have impressive solidity. Syam Ben Youssef, who plays his club football in Romania after a stint at Leyton Orient, has been in splendid form recently in the centre of defence alongside Monaco’s Aymen Abdennour, with Rangers’ Bilel Mohsni joining them as a third centre-back in matches in which Leekens expects opponents to have the majority of possession.

Both full-backs carry threats going forward, especially Hamza Mathlouthi on the right. Tunisia have dynamism and creativity in midfield, where the impressive performance by Montpellier’s Jamel Saihi in Sunday’s friendly draw with Algeria will have perhaps earned him a starting spot along with Wahbi Khazri and Yassine Chikhaoui. Both of those players will likely need to contribute goals from midfield, as Tunisia’s strikers are not the sharpest. A shaky season at Étoile du Sahel has got fans worrying about the form of the goalkeeper Aymen Mathlouthi but he appears to have secured his starting place with confident displays in pre-tournament friendlies.

 

Dark horses

The Blue Sharks of Cape Verde are appearing in the tournament for the second time in a row. Luís Antunes, the manager who guided them to their historic first appearance two years ago, has moved on but his replacement, Rui Aguas, has proven tactically shrewd and while selecting 12 of the squad that featured in 2013, has also integrated new talents such as the 22-year-old midfielder Nuno Rocha.

Babanco and Heldon remain key components of the Cape Verde midfield, with the latter’s set-piece delivery especially valuable given the aerial power of forwards such as Júlio Tavares. Ryan Mendes is also still involved and although the Lille player can frustrate, he can also unhinge any defence when on form. Provided the goalkeeper Vozinha can avoid costly mistakes, Cape Verde can reach the quarter-finals again, at least.

 

Coach of the group

Florent Ibengé, Claude Le Roy’s former assistant, was promoted to be DR Congo’s national team manager last August but continued to manage AS Vita also, leading them all the way to a two-legged African Champions League final against ES Sétif. Vita were ultimately beaten on away goals, an especially painful way to lose for a trained economist who nurtures free enterprise among his attackers. Firmin Mubele Ndombe – who last week was voted the best player based in Africa – has been a notable beneficiary at club level and is one of three Vita players included in DR Congo’s squad for this tournament.

Yannick Bolasie has thrived under Ibengé for the national team, and the country’s high point so far under the new manager was October’s magnificent 4-3 win in Ivory Coast, a result that enabled them to qualify for this tournament as the best third-paced team.

 

Player to watch

Zambia are in a process of renewal under the manager Honor Janza, who was Hervé Renard’s assistant when the country achieved that wonderful triumph in 2012. Only eight of the players who contributed to that momentous feat are included in the latest squad, including Stopilla Sunzu, who scored the winning penalty in the shootout. Still just 25 and playing his club football in China, the centre-back is a composed and inspirational defender who given how hard his team find goals to come by, will have to excel if Zambia are to progress from their group.

 

Commentator’s kit

Robert Kidiaba, the DR Congo goalkeeper who shot to global fame thanks to hisunique bum-bouncing goal celebration (which, he says, evolved from an abdomen-strengthening exercise) during TP Mazembe’s astonishing run to the final of the 2010 Club World Cup, is now 38 and will retire after this tournament. His recent form, alas, has been such that DR Congo fans fear he could play an unfortunate role in his country’s exit.

 

 

GROUP C: Algeria, Ghana, Senegal and South Africa

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Algeria’s Yacine Brahimi, left, pictured during last year’s World Cup game against South Korea, is one of the most exciting attacking midfielders in the world. Photograph: Andrew Boyers/Action Images Favourites

Although they have historically struggled south of the Sahara and have been cast into a perilous group, Algeria should be the favourites to win what would be only their second African crown. On form they are the best team on the continent, having become even slicker since their exhilarating display at last year’s World Cup. The new manager, Christian Gourcuff, has gradually adjusted the side’s formation to replicate the fluid 4-4-2 that he favoured during a decade at Lorient and his imaginative, high-energy style suits a squad of dynamic, technically excellent players.

Algeria have impressive strength in depth, especially in midfield, and going forward they can be a delight even if Islam Slimani is the one outfield player, along with the goalkeeper Rais Mbolhi, whose form has declined slightly since the World Cup.

Yacine Brahimi keeps improving to the extent that he is now one of the most exciting attacking midfielders in the world and the Porto player thrives in the free role given to him by Gourcuff.

Riyad Mahrez, who featured only once during the World Cup, has become a regular thanks to the sort of sparkling displays that he has also been showing for Leicester this season. With a tough defence in which Rafik Halliche has replaced Majdid Bougherra and which benefits from the sturdy protection provided by Nabil Bentaleb, Algeria are strong throughout.

 

Dark horses

Senegal and Ghana boast better-known names than South Africa but Bafana Bafana go into the tournament looking a more coherent team than either. They emerged unbeaten from a dicey qualifying group thanks to the method and momentum generated by their manager, Shakes Mashaba, and Sunday’s come-from-behind draw with Cameroon was the latest evidence of the players’ determination to maintain defiantly vibrant performances despite the murder in October of their captain, Senzo Meyiwa. With Thulani Serero pulling the strings in midfield and Tokelo Rantie sharp up front, South Africa’s speed and artfulness could help them topple more powerful opponents, especially if Sadio Mané, Senegal’s most inventive player, does not recover as quickly as his team hope.

 

Coach of the group

Avram Grant is not the most obvious choice to inspire a nation still shuddering from the memories of their World Cup fiasco. The former Chelsea manager may have been appointed because the Ghana FA views him as a safe pair of hands or, more depressingly, because he is a big name from the European game. Whatever the motives, his task is clear: to restore pride to the Black Stars by ensuring defensive vulnerabilities are not exposed and coaxing consistency from André Ayew, by far the most creative player in the squad, and the rapid winger Christian Atsu.

 

Player to watch

A manager has to be utterly convinced of a player’s talent and temperament to give him his debut at the heart of his country’s defence in a crucial away qualifier a week before his 18th birthday. That is what Mashaba did with Rivaldo Coetzeeand the Ajax Cape Town defender vindicated the decision to make him the youngest South African international by showing poise as he helped South Africa keep a clean sheet in the 2-0 victory in Congo. He maintained that form and quickly developed a solid partnership with Eric “Tower” Mathoho.

With Matholo suspended for the first match against Algeria, Mashaba must decide on the most suitable new partner for Coetzee. The manager, who surprisingly omitted Kaizer Chiefs’ Tefu Mashamaite from the squad, appears to be leaning towards deploying the wing-back Anele Ngcongca in the centre, confident that Coetzee has the maturity to help him adapt.

 

Commentator’s kit

Premier League scouts will be paying particular attention to several Senegal players including the striker Dame Ndoye, who has less than six months left on his contract at Lokomotiv Moscow, and Stéphane Badji, the versatile midfielder who considered one of the best players in the Norwegian league despite being relegated in November with Brann.

 

 

GROUP D: Cameroon, Guinea, Ivory Coast and Mali

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Ivory Coast hope Gervinho’s revival at Roma will be carried over to the Africa Cup of Nations. Photograph: Max Rossi/Reuters Favourites

Most British bookmakers seem to think Ivory Coast are the favourites to win not just this group but the whole tournament, but that belief may be based on excessive confidence in the capacity of a tough midfield and undoubtedly dangerous attackers (including Yaya Touré, Gervinho and Wilfried Bony) to compensate for an alarmingly dodgy defence.

Cameroon look a wiser choice having made a surprisingly strong recovery from their laughable World Cup campaign. The manager, Volker Finke, somehow survived that shambles and having ejected brats and the overbearing Samuel Eto’o, the Indomitable Lions have introduced young players such as the striker Clinton Njie and rediscovered strength in unity. And they demonstrated it when destroying Ivory Coast 4-1 in the qualifiers. Cameroon have a good goalkeeper, a solid defence in which Nicolas Nkoulou is resurgent, and a strong midfield, and they carry a regular goal threat thanks to enterprising forwards such as Njie, Vincent Aboubakar and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting.

 

Dark horses

It would be foolish to underestimate Guinea, a team who reached the finals despite having to play all of their “home” matches in Morocco because of the Ebola epidemic. As if driven by a need to offer a chink of positivity at a time of national tragedy, the Guinean team won their last two qualifiers in impressive style. Guinea defend as a vigilant unit and break forward with jarring speed and in the 23-year-old Slovan Bratislava striker Seydouba Soumah they had one of the revelations of the qualifying campaign.

 

Coach

Hervé Renard, the man who led Zambia to improbable glory in 2012, has been assigned the task of delivering the success that Ivory Coast have been tipped to achieve for most of the last decade. That looks a tall order, and it did not say much for the Frenchman’s confidence in the young players at his disposal that he spent his early months in the job trying to persuade various members of the so-called golden generation to return from retirement. The best of the new talent – such as the 21-year-old winger Roger Assalé – is in attack where the Elephants are already formidable, leaving Renard hoping Cheik Tioté and Serey Die can provide consistent protection to a defence that was penetrated regularly during the qualifiers.

 

Player to watch

Fabrice Ondoa: Cameroon has produced more top goalkeepers than any other African country and this 19-year-old has shown enough promise to suggest he could become another. Born in Yaoundé, he joined Samuel Eto’o’s foundation as an 11-year-old and from there went to Barcelona. After starring in the Catalans’ Uefa Youth League triumph last year, he signed a professional contract with the club.

Yet it was still a surprise when he was entrusted with a senior international debut in the opening qualifier in DR Congo. Ondoa was undaunted and kept a clean sheet in a 2-0 win. He remained his country’s first-choice goalkeeper for the rest of the campaign, conceding only one in six matches.

 

Commentator’s notes

The Guinea centre-back Florentin Pogba is the brother of the Juventus and France midfielder, Paul Pogba.

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Group c is where its at.

 

Disappointed theres not more itv4 coverage

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Get ur money up g

It's embarrassing seeing grown man still begging for streams and shit in 2015

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1st game jokes already, offside goal allowed, onside goal disallowed, one guy missed open net from 2 yards, another miss from 8 yards ffs :lol:

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Gyan got malaria

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GH vs Senegal if ure about

 

Eurosport

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Looking forward to today's games

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Don't know if it's because of the camera angle but this pitch looks way too small?

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Think its just the camera

 

/

 

atsu smh

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ghana slipppppped

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Ghana been needed a vest for a minute tbf

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The skanks

Hopefully this opens up the game and we can see more goals

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faaaa

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It's deep still

This thing of ours is a cruel cruel game

Gotta take your chances at 1-0

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Nah this is peak

 

Thrown it away

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no tv coverage of any of these games?

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we'll have to play much better against ghana and senegal

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