Group C produced the last winners (Nigeria) at the last tourney, this group sure looks like it will produce this year’s winners.
Algeria – Fifa ranking: 18 – ACN best: Winners 1990 – Nickname: Desert Warriors
Rightly dubbed as the group of death especially when it is seen that all the teams in this group are former winners. Starting with Africa’s number 1 team – Algeria have been impressive lately on the international scene and their clubsides have done brilliantly well in inter-clubs competition. Coach Vahid Halilhodzic guided them to the knockout rounds for the first time at the World Cup in Brazil last year narrowly losing to Germany – the eventual winners. A new manager in Christian Gourcuff has taken charge and if they continue with such a high-level performance in Equatorial Guinea, it might just be enough to see them take home the trophy. With experienced and quality players like Valencia’s Sofiane Feghouli and Sporting Lisbon’s striker, Islam Slimani, skipper Madjid Bougherra and Djamel Mesbah, their chances in this tourney is by no means limited.
Ghana – Fifa ranking: 37 – ACN best: Winners in 1963, 1965, 1978 and 1982 – Nickname: Black Stars
One of the favourites are Ghana but it wasn’t an easy ride for the Black Stars during the qualifiers even though they still managed to finish top of Group E. Some unconvincing displays by the team that probably led to the appointment of Isreali coach, Avram Grant. They can still look up to players like Asamoah Gyan – who is currently suffering from a knock but his experience in this tourney will be very much needed, Andre Ayew and Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu to lead them out of this tough exciting group.
Senegal – Fifa rankings: 35 – ACN Best: Runners-up in 2002 – Nickname – Teranga Lions
Finished as runners-up in a tough qualifying group that houses two North African teams with Tunisia topping the group and Egypt missing out. Impressive during the qualifiers and fortunately for the Nation, their big players are up and running pretty well with their respective clubsides. Algeria and Ghana no doubt will be given a good run for their money by the Alain Giresse tutored side. With interesting players like Cheikhou Kouyate, Alfred Ndiaye, Mame Birame Diouf, Moussa Sow and Papiss Demba Cisse, you can’t rule them out of qualifying from this group.
South Africa – Fifa rankings: 52 – ACN Best: Winners 1996 – Nickname – Bafana Bafana
There will be no time for teams to get comfortable in this group, with every point key given the competitive nature of the competition, and the opening game of the pool on January 19 could well prove to be the decider as the group pans out. South Africa take a resolute defensive side to Equatorial Guinea, where their so-called revival will be put to the test. Bafana Bafana will have to make do without captain and goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa who was tragically murdered several weeks ago. However, Mashaba has turned around the nation’s fortunes, having topped their qualifying group and prevented Nigeria from defending their title. The team had remained unbeaten since he took charge in his fourth spell with the team. Tokelo Rantie is a star player that needs to be watched carefully by opponents and Dean Furman is also another player to watch.
19 January 2015 – Ghana v Senegal (Mongomo) | Algeria v South Africa (Mongomo)
23 January 2015 – Ghana v Algeria (Mongomo) | South Africa v Senegal (Mongomo)
27 January 2015 – South Africa v Ghana (Mongomo) | Senegal v Algeria (Malabo)
HalftimeNG Prediction: Algeria and Senegal to qualify