2012 Africa Cup of Nations groups drawn
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Hot favourites Ivory Coast and Ghana have been given a kind draw for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations, which opens on January 21 with co-hosts Equatorial Guinea playing surprise qualifiers Libya.
AP - Tournament favorite Ivory Coast was grouped with Sudan, Burkina Faso and Angola in Saturday’s draw for next year’s African Cup of Nations.
World Cup quarterfinalist Ghana was drawn alongside Cup of Nations newcomer Botswana, Mali and Guinea for the 16-team African championship in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, which kicks off on Jan. 21.
Ivory Coast and Ghana avoided the likes of Senegal, Morocco and Tunisia in a kind draw for the two main contenders.
In Group A, co-host Equatorial Guinea will open the tournament in Bata on its Cup of Nations debut against surprise qualifier Libya. Senegal and Zambia make up the group.
Gabon will face Niger - another first-time qualifier - and North African hopes Morocco and Tunisia in Group C. Morocco and Tunisia open their campaigns against each other on Jan. 23.
In the absence of three-time defending champion Egypt and former winners Cameroon, Nigeria and South Africa - who all failed to qualify - top-ranked African team Ivory Coast and Ghana are tipped to meet in the Feb. 12 final in the Gabon capital Libreville.
Ivory Coast will start its quest for a second African title, and first since 1992, against Sudan in Group B. Ghana will play Botswana first up in Group D.
Equatorial Guinea plays Libya and Senegal faces Zambia in the opening two games of the tournament, which are set to be played back-to-back at the same stadium on Jan. 21.
The top two teams from each group will qualify for the quarterfinals, with the tournament played across four cities: Bata and Malabo in Equatorial Guinea and Libreville and Franceville in Gabon.
Ghana is the most successful team at the 2012 edition with four Cup of Nations crowns. Tunisia, Sudan, Ivory Coast and Morocco have all won the competition once.
Burkina Faso’s place at the tournament was confirmed by the Confederation of African Football after the ruling body rejected an appeal by Namibia over an ineligible player in the Burkinabe squad. CAF said the protest from the Namibians - who lost out to Burkina Faso in qualifying - did not follow correct procedure and was therefore rejected.
President Ali Bongo of Gabon and President Teodoro Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea attended Saturday’s draw, which was overseen by CAF President Issa Hayatou.
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