They include Niger, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia and Tunisia.
Though the gap between the heavyweights and underdogs in football has been greatly narrowed, some nations still lag behind. This is the case with countries like Niger who are only in their second participation at the final phase of the Africa Cup of Nations.
Burkina Faso hosted the competition in 1994 and has been participating intermittently at the final round of the competition but never acceding to the second round. Ethiopia is equally a new kid on the block and still yearning for their first ever nation's cup victory. Tunisia is somewhat in the middle between heavyweights and underdogs having won the tournament in 2004. The Carthage Eagles are out to regain lost glory and may use the 2013 AFCON in South Africa as a launch pad towards that renaissance.
Besides them are countries like Cape Verde, Algeria, Togo and Angola who have no real chances of winning the competition. However, any of these countries could surprise the continent in South Africa just as Zambia did in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. The example of Zambia has been an eye opener and many of the so-called underdog nations will be trying to emulate their example.