• Tuesday, 17 January 2012

    Coupe d'Afrique des Nations previews - group D

    We did group A and group B in conventional order, but y'know what? Screw convention. Here's a look at group D.

    Nickname: The Zebras. Safety in numbers, but a weak one is always liable to be picked off by a hungry leopard.

    Botswana's preparation threatened to be spoiled by a row over bonuses for the players who had threatened to strike over the issue. Had they done so, the under-20s were set to represent the country at their first finals. All bar seven are locally based with six playing over the border in South Africa and their qualification is a genuine feel-good story.

    Goalkeepers: Modiri Marumo (Bay United, South Africa), Noah Maposa (Gaborone United), Kabelo Dambe (Rollers)
    Defenders: Mompathi Thuma (BDF XI), Ndiyapo Letsholathebe (Police XI), Musa Ohilwe (Gaborone United), Mosimanegape Ramohibidu (BMC), Monametsi Kelebale (NICO), Tshepo Motlhabankwe (Mochudi Centre Chiefs)
    Midfielders: Mogogi Gabonamong (SuperSport United, South Africa), Joel Mogorosi, Pontsho Moloi, Othusitse Pilane (all Mochudi Centre Chiefs), Boitumelo Mafoko (Cape Town Santos, South Africa) Ofentse Nato (Gaborone United), Phenyo Mongala (Bloemfontein Celtic, South Africa), Patrick Motsepe, Tshireletso (BDF XI), Mogakolodi Ngele (Rollers)
    Forwards: Jerome Ramatlhakwane (Unattached), Diphetogo Selolwane (SuperSport, South Africa), Onalethata Tshekiso (Rollers), Moemedi Moatlhaping (Bay United, South Africa)

    Nickname: Black Stars. So called because there's a black star on their flag, nothing Ron Atkinson about it at all.

    Asamoah Gyan was a big doubt for the Black Stars, but makes the squad after making good progress following a hamstring injury. Kevin Prince Boateng's controversial retirement from international football and Michael Essien's injury woes are big blows, but it's still a strong side. The Ayew boys both make it and they are top players, André is the new African Player of the Year. These guys could go all the way.

    Goalkeepers: Adam Kwarasey (Stromsgodset, Norway), Daniel Adjei (Liberty Professionals), Ernest Sowah (Berekum Chelsea)
    Defenders: Samuel Inkoom (Dnipro, Ukraine), John Paintsil (Leicester City, England), Daniel Opare (Standard Liege, Belgium), Masawudu Alhassan (Genoa, Italy), Lee Addy (Dalian Aerbim, China), John Boye (Rennes, France), John Mensah (Lyon, France), Jonathan Mensah (Evian, France), Isaac Vorsah (Hoffenheim, Germany)
    Midfielders: Charles Takyi (St Pauli, Germany), Emmanuel Agyemang Badu (Udinese, Italy), Derek Boateng (Dnipro, Ukraine), Anthony Annan (Vitesse Arnhem, Netherlands), Mohammed Abu (Stromsgodset, Norway), Kwadwo Asamoah (Udinese, Italy), Sulley Muntari (Internazionale, Italy), Andre Ayew (Marseille, France)
    Forwards: Prince Tagoe (Bursaspor, Turkey), Asamoah Gyan (Al Ain, UAE), Jordan Ayew (Marseille, France)

    Nickname: National Elephants. Trying to dissociate themselves from the ivory trade, presumably and understandably, Guinea go to great lengths to make sure they're only domestic elephants and not imported ones.

    Former France u21 international Abdoul Razzagui Camara is awaiting international clearance, but is included in Michel Dussuyer's squad. Kevin Constant, the Genoa midfielder, misses out with injury and that's a blow. Bobo Balde and Pascal Feindouno are set for their fourth finals.

    Goalkeepers: Aboubacar Camara (Alcoyano, Spain), Abdoul Aziz Keita (AS Kaloum), Naby Yattara (Arles-Avignon, France)
    Defenders: Thierno Bah (Lausanne, Switzerland), Dianbodo 'Bobo' Baldé (Arles-Avignon, France), Ibrahima Sory Bangoura (Djoliba, Mali), Lanfia Camara (WS Woluwe, Belgium), Morlaye Cissé (EGS Gafsa, Tunisia), Ibrahima Diallo (Waasland Beveren, Belgium), Kamil Zayatte (Buyuksehir, Turkey), Oumar Kalabané (Al Dhafra, United Arab Emirates)
    Midfielders: Mamadou Dioulde Bah (VfB Stuttgart, Germany), Habib Jean Balde (Universitatea Cluj, Romania), Sadio Diallo (Bastia, France), Pascal Feindouno (Sion, Switzerland), Naby Soumah (CS Sfaxien, Tunisia)
    Forwards: Alhassane Bangoura (Rayo Vallecano, Spain), Ismael Bangoura (Al Nasr, United Arab Emirates), Ousmane Barry (Etoile du Sahel, Tunisia), Abdoul Razzagui Camara (Sochaux, France), Ibrahima Conté (Ghent, Belgium), Ibrahim Traoré (VfB Stuttgart, Germany), Ibrahima Yattara (Al Shabab, Saudi Arabia)

    Nickname: The Eagles. Soaring majestically across the planes, picking off small rodents but never the larger prey. Sums Mali up about right. They've got style and will crush smaller nations before running out of ideas of how to take on the really big fish.

    Another decent outside bet, Alain Giresse has a decent squad to pick from. Barcelona's Seydou Keita is undoubtedly the star, but there are plenty of others to watch, notably Modibo Maiga up top and a phalanx of Traorés in midfield

    Goalkeepers: Oumar Sissoko (Metz, France), Soumbeyla Diakité (Stade Malien), Alimamy Sogoba (As Réal)
    Defenders: Ousmane Coulibaly (Brest, France), Idrissa Coulibaly (Esperance Tunis, Tunisia), Drissa Diakité (Nice, France), Cedric Kanté (Panathinaikos, Greece), Mohamed Fofana (Toulouse, France), Adama Tamboura (Metz, France ), Mouhamadou N'Diaye (Vitoria Guimarães, Portugal), Abdoulaye Maiga (USM Alger, Algeria)
    Midfielders: Seydou Keita (Barcelona, Spain), Kalilou Traoré (OB Odense, Denmark), Bakay Traoré (Nancy, France), Abdou Traoré (Bordeaux, France), Samba Diakité (Nancy, France), Mahamané Traoré (Metz , France), Sidi Koné (Lyon, France), Samba Sow (Lens, France)
    Forwards: Modibo Maiga (Sochaux, France), Garra Dembélé (Freiburg, Germany), Cheick Tidiané Diabaté (Bordeaux, France), Mustapha Yatabaré (Guingamp, France)

    Going through from this group: Ghana top, Mali second.

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