Zambia – Fifa ranking: 46 – ACN best: Winners 2012
The core of the 2012 team is still in the current squad and they continued their run of consistency by qualifying for their fourth consecutive Africa Cup of Nations. Coach Honour Janza who claims he is honoured to be handling this team is looking at fresher prospects this year. Talents such as Ronald Kampamba and Evans Kangwa can add vitality to a Chipolopolo attack, while Emmanuel Mayuka looks to be the only experienced “Goto-Man”. In this group, they have been dubbed as outsiders but they will be looking to prove bookmakers wrong.
Tunisia – Fifa ranking: 22 – ACN best: Winners 2004
Since taking over a litle over a year ago, Coach Georges Leekens has effected a remarkable twelve-month turnaround for the Carthage Eagles. Leekens seem to have found the crux of this team and has instilled a solid approach that births victory. Champions 11 years ago, their preparations have been hit by a last-minute striker shortage. Edem Rjaibi and Ahmed Akaichi have come in to replace injured Fakhreddine Ben Youssef and Saber Khalifa, who both suffered muscle injuries but the North Africans are still one of the tournament favourites. They have much quality their squad, star player is Jamel Saihi and they came through qualification unbeaten in a group that included fellow finalists Senegal and Egypt.
Cape Verde – Fifa ranking: 40 – ACN best: Quarterfinals 2013
Cape Verde were the surprise package of the 2013 AFCON, they finished top of Group F and were the first team to qualify for the 2015 edition of the Africa Cup of Nations. Look for Lille striker Ryan Mendes to have a particularly good tournament. I won’t be surprised this time if the Islanders make it at least that far this time with manager Rui Aguas banking on the likes of 26-year old midfielder Heldon Ramos – who was a revelation in 2013 and the striking force of Ryan Mendes and Ze Luis.
DR Congo – Fifa ranking: 56 – ACN best: Winners 1968, 1974
Florent Ibenge’s side qualified luckily for this tourney as the best third-place side during the qualification campaign. They also have good players in Jeremy Bokila and Yannick Bolasie who will always provide an attacking threat to their opponents. DR Congo won the inaugural AFCON tournament and a victory over tournament favourites Ivory Coast in qualifying is proof of their ability to stun any team, so don’t rule them out of qualifying from this group.
18 January 2015 – Zambia v DR Congo (Ebebiyin) | Tunisia v Cape Verde Islands (Ebebiyin)
22 January 2015 – Zambia v Tunisia (Ebebiyin) | Cape Verde Islands v DR Congo (Ebebiyin)
26 January 2015 – Cape Verde Islands v Zambia (Ebebiyin) | DR Congo v Tunisia (Bata)
HalftimeNG Prediction: Tunisia and Cape Verde Islands