19 January 2013

South Africa: Review of Group A

Photo: Barry Aldworth/BackpagePix
Anele Ngcongca of South Africa, left, tangles with Heldon of Cape Verde during opening match of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations finals.

South Africa which is the Host Nation will be hoping to add to their single African Cup of Nations win, in what will be their eight appearances at the championships. The last time the Bafana Bafana hosted the competition they won it back in 1996, defeating Tunisia 2-0 in the final, courtesy of two goals from former Wolverhampton Wanderers man Mark Williams who had a brief stint at the club. However, the hosts will be without star man Stephen Pienaar who retired from international football just three months prior to this tournament.

Their biggest rivals in Group A will be the highly rated Moroccans who were runners up in 2004 but have seen a resurgence of form under Coach Rachid Taoussi. They had to overcome a 2-0 deficit away leg to Mozambique in the final qualifying match, in which they won the home leg 4-0 to qualify. Coach Taoussi has a number of current top flights, European personnel at his disposal which includes Karim El Ahmadi of Aston Villa, Udinese defender Mehdi Benatia and former Tottenham hotspur, now current Fiorentina striker, Mounir El Hamadaoui.

Cape Verde will compete in their first African Cup of Nations finals, having managed to dismantle giants Cameroon 3-2 on aggregate during qualification. Winger Ryan Mendes is their player to watch out for, who could potentially disrupt a few defences in the group. At 22, Mendes scored three goals during qualifying and his club performances for French team Le Havre were recognized by Lille who he signed for in 2012.

The final side to make up Group A is Angola. They have been twice quarter-finalists in the competition but have not made it to this extent again. Their main goal threat will come from former Manchester United striker Manucho who has an impressive record of 21 goals in 38 matches for the Angolans. If they are to proceed into the quarter-finals once more, he will have to be on top form.

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