Many will agree that qualification for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations is one that has seen a high number of casualties. The Equatorial Guinea/Gabon tournament will be one of the few, in the tournament’s annals, to see a defending champion not present to, as it were, defend its title. Of course, it is needless to mention Egypt’s failure to make it to the 28th edition of the tournament since that happened even before the last round of matches. Gabon/Equatorial Guinea 2012 will also be a tournament that will see half of Africa’s representatives at an immediate past world cup not making it for the nations cup. Pathetic!! Incidentally, that world cup was hosted by the continent. More often than not, Africa’s representatives at a world cup bring on the verve and energy into the nations cup. Unfortunately, Nigeria, Cameroon, Algeria and South Africa, though nothing much can be written about their performance at the 2010 World Cup, will not be at the continent’s flagship tournament right after they had historically represented the continent in its first hosting of the global showpiece. Well, at the moment, nothing can be done about the fate of these and several other nations in relation to their failure to make it to Gabon/Equatorial Guinea. Not even the legal tendons from South Africa can be stretched enough to save the situation.
The draw for the finals is scheduled to be held on 29th October, 2011 in Malabo and nations like Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, who have been tagged as favourites, will find out, after that draw, how feasible their dreams can be.
Let me quickly take some time to welcome countries like Equatorial Guinea, Niger and Botswana into the prestigious tournament. They will be appearing for the first time. For Botswana, qualification was sealed in grand style as they became the first to do so among the 45 countries that entered the qualification series. They qualified ahead of relatively experienced countries like Tunisia and Togo. Niger, I am sure, have been one of the few beneficiaries of the Confederation of African Football’s Africa Championship of Nations, which is strictly for locally-based players. Their sterling performance in the second edition in Sudan, which took them to the quarter finals ahead of nations like Ghana, amply reflected during the qualifiers for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations.
Egypt 2006, Ghana 2008, Angola 2010
But the roll call is complete! Angola, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Libya, Mali, Morocco, Niger, Senegal, Sudan, Tunisia and Zambia are the countries that will play at the 2012 continental showpiece, which will be co-hosted for the second time since its inception. Before the final round of matches, the continent’s governing body of football, CAF, came out with the criteria for the seeding of countries for the draw. According to CAF, qualified countries will be ranked based on their performance at the past three tournaments. Egypt 2006, Ghana 2008 and Angola 2010 are the tournaments to be taken into consideration to rank the countries before the draw. In fact, they will be put into four pots, which will count as the seeds for the draw. Nonetheless, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea will not be part of this ranking as they automatically get seeded by virtue of their co-hosting the tournament. Equatorial Guinea get to be in Group A and will be based in Bata while Gabon will be in Group C and they will pitch camp in their capital Libreville. In effect, the opening ceremony together with the opening match will be played in Bata while the closing ceremony and the finals will come off in Libreville. Let me be quick to mention that Equatorial Guinea will play in the opening match but as to whether they or co-hosts Gabon will play in the finals, I am not the least in a position to tell.
But the other fourteen qualifiers will have a score break-down of 7 points for a winner of any of the past three tourneys, 5 points for the finalist, 3 points for semi-finalists, 2 points for quarter-finalists and one point for teams eliminated in the first round. Angola 2010 will have a co-efficient of 3, Ghana 2008 will have a co-efficient of 2 while Egypt 2006 will have a co-efficient of 1. Therefore, a country like Ghana, which went out at the group stage in the 2006 Africa Cup of Nations, placed third at the 2008 edition and came second at the 2010 edition, will have a total of 22 points. Indeed, Ghana gets one point from Egypt 2006, six points from Ghana 2008 and fifteen points from Angola 2010 making a total of 22 points.
2006 x 1 2008 x2 2010 x 3
1.Ghana 1=1 3=6 5=15 =22
2.Cote d’Ivoire 5=5 3=6 2=6 =17
3.Angola 1=1 2=4 2= 6 =11
4. Tunisia 2=2 2=4 1=3 =9
5.Zambia 1=1 1=2 2=6 =9
6.Guinea 2=2 2=4 0=0 =6
7. Mali 0*=0 1=2 1=3 =5
10.Senegal 3=3 1=2 0=0 =5
8.Morocco 1=1 1=2 0=0 =3
9. Burkina Faso 0=0 0=0 1=3 =3
11.Sudan 0=0 1=2 0=0 =2
12.Libya 1=1 0=0 0=0 =1
13.Botswana 0=0 0=0 0=0 =0
14.Niger 0=0 0=0 0=0 =0
Gabon 0=0 0=0 1=3 =3
Equatorial Guinea 0=0 0=0 0=0 =0
Incidentally, Ghana gets the highest ranking from all my calculations. Cote d’Ivoire comes second with 17 points while Angola comes third with 11 points. Botswana and Niger come last by virtue of the fact that they have never been at the tournament. As a result of their superior seeding, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire will be divided for Group B and D. Already they will be seeded in Pot 1 together with the co-hosts. But the rest o the qualifiers will be put in Pot 2 to Pot 4 as displayed below:
Pot 1: Pot 2 Pot 3 Pot 4
Equatorial Guinea Angola Mali Sudan
Gabon Tunisia Senegal Libya
Ghana Zambia Morocco Botswana
Cote d’Ivoire Guinea Burkina Faso Niger
The first draw to be conducted in Malabo will be for nations in Pot 4. Then, attention is turned to Pot 3 and finally to Pot 2. Because they will get Group B or Group D, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire can only meet in the semi-finals of the tournament in their respective journeys to the finals. But before then, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire must scrape through a stiff opposition to be posed by Pot 2 to Pot 4’s teams, who stand an equal chance of being drawn in Group B or D.
There is no better time for Ghana to win the Africa Cup of Nations than in 2012, so many people keep trumpeting. I could not agree with them more. But eyes should be directed towards events leading up to the tourney like what happens on October, 29 when the draw is held in Malabo.