Africa set for Chan thrill
On Saturday in South Africa, the continent’s best home grown talents will converge to compete in the third edition of the African Nations Championship (Chan) in the host cities of Polokwane, Bloemfontein and Cape Town.
Ghana’s Black Stars will come up against Congo Brazzaville on Monday at the Free State Stadium, Mangaung. Coach Maxwell Konadu’s charges seem to be well prepared for the uphill task ahead.
The local Stars have had a well-organised and smooth preparation prior to the tournament as the team rounded up a week’s training tour of Namibia on a positive note by beating their Namibian counterparts 1-0 in a friendly encounter in Windhoek last Saturday.
Nonetheless, Coach Konadu had been cautious not to shower praises on his team, expressing disappointment at the performance but was upheat they could improve with the tournament kick-off.
Host South Africa will lock horns with Mozambique in the Group A opening encounter at the Cape Town Stadium after an expected colourful opening ceremony.
The second match between Mali and Nigeria will be played later in the day in what is expected to be a very cagey affair between two of Africa’s powerful soccer nations.
South Africa and Nigeria are much favoured to qualify from this group. Having boasted of fielding in their strongest side yet in the biennial event which began in 2009, South Africa may savour her home advantage buoyed by an intense preparation ahead of the tournament to secure a qualifying spot to the next stage of the competition.
The Green Super Eagles as the Nigerian local team is called, on the other hand, would like to justify their depth at home which serves as a booster to the quality abroad that led to their crowning as AFCON champions in 2013.
Away from the Group A matches on the opening day, are other soccer giants and emerging powerful dark horses on the continent.
One such nation, Burkina Faso, a runner-up in the AFCON tournament played last year, find themselves in Group B with Zimbabwe, Uganda and Morocco.
In Group C all eyes will be on Ghana as they contend with Congo, Libya from the maghreb and Ethiopia from the horn of Africa.
Dark horses Libya, Ethiopia and Congo are expected to pose a challenge but Ghana and Libya are the much favoured to scrape through this cagey group.
In Group D, celebrated goalie Robert Kidiaba will lead DR Congo to reclaim the title they won at the inaugural event in Cote d’Ivoire. They are expected to win their first match against little known Mauritania while Gabon clash with Burundi in the other match.
After much tussle, DR Congo and Gabon are expected to qualify to the next stage. All told Ghana, DR Congo, Burkina Faso and Morocco are tipped to win this tournament.