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African Cup of Nations Preview – Group B

January 10, 2010

It’s the turn of Group B, which will have three teams instead of four after the Togo team pulled out of the tournament following the killing of three staff members by gunmen on Friday. The three matches due to involve Togo have been cancelled and the other three sides will play each other; two will advance to the quarter finals.

GROUP B

IVORY COAST // GHANA // BURKINA FASO

IVORY COAST

Group B’s favourites include many players familiar to British football fans: Kolo Toure, Emmanuel Eboue, Didier Zokora, Salomon Kalou, Aruna Dindane and Premier League top-scorer Didier Drogba are all in the squad, and Kolo’s brother Yaya Toure is watched by many in La Liga, where his team Barcelona top the table.

Didier Drogba could fire the Elephants to victory - BBC

In fact most of the Coast’s squad leave domestic sides in rude health, with the obvious exception of Aruna Dindane who, despite a series of poor finishes for embattled Portsmouth, has 51 appearances for his country.

The last two African Nations saw them reach the final and semi-final, and they are looking good going into 2010.

On paper, Vahid Halilhodizic’s men have everything going for them – including the best kit. Their sassy orange number stands out from the better-known Netherlands shirts of yesteryear by virtue of having an elephant on the shoulder. The fans will be hoping that Cote D’Ivore do not copy the Dutch habit of bottling it at the later stages once again. They shouldn’t.

Videprinter prediction: Winners of the cup. And ones to watch in South Africa in the summer, despite a tricky group.


Michael Essien should be fit for Ghana's opener - Getty


GHANA

The Black Stars have won this competiton four times, though not since 1982. Last time out they breezed through the group stage, exiting in the semi-finals with a narrow defeat to Cameroon.

Michael Essien and Stephen Appiah usually provide a solid midfield base, and Essien may be fit in time for their opening game, now against the Ivory Coast following Togo’s withdrawal. If he is not, Serbian manager Milovan Rajevac has a glut of midfielders from which to choose. They should give Ivory Coast a good game and see off Burkina Faso.

Videprinter prediction: Group runners-up, Ghana should make the semis before a stronger side sends them home.

BURKINA FASO

Mainz's Aristide Bance will be hoping Burkina Faso can cause an upset - fifa.com

Very few observers are giving The Stallions a chance of advancing in a group involving Ivory Coast and Ghana, and the Videprinter is no different.

Moumouni Dagano and Aristide Bance are the team’s biggest hopes – Dagano has played for his country since 1999 and has returned a creditable goal every two games.

They also have Champions League experience in the form of CFR Cluj’s Yssouf Koné, who scored for the Romanian side against Chelsea in 2008. They are in such a difficult group though, that, despite finishing second in qualifying,they are likely to struggle in Angola.

Videprinter Prediction: Group-stage exit.

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