Group D preview

Angola, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia are drawn together in Group D.

    Angola's Flavio scored the opening goal against Iran at the 2006 World Cup in Germany [GALLO/GETTY]

    The 'Black Antelopes' have made slow progress in three previous appearances at the biennial tournament, collecting one point in 1996, two in 1998, and four at the 2006 finals in Egypt.
    Angola have played down their chances against Tunisia, Senegal and South Africa in perhaps the most open of the four groups, with all Group D countries having realistic ambitions of making it to the knockout phase.
    Coach Luis Oliveria Goncalves led the Black Antelopes to a narrow loss to eventual semi-finalists Portugal and draws against Mexico and Iran at the 2006 World Cup, giving the African nation something to be proud of.
    Strikers Manucho Goncalves, who will join Manchester United after Ghana if he receives a work permit, and Flavio Amado of Egyptian giants Al-Ahly, could hold the key for the team that scored the most goals in qualifying.

    Diouf has had a lean time in front of goal, but
    could be in for a big Africa Cup [GALLO/GETTY]

    Fifa world rank: 40
    Coach: Henri Kasperczak
    Player to watch: El-Hadji Diouf
    Best Africa Cup finish: Runners-up 2002
    With many pundits backing the chances of Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Cameroon or hosts Ghana to win the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations, Senegal could be the best dark-horse of the tournament.
    The 'Teranga Lions' will be aiming to go one better than their second place finish to Cameroon after a cautious final settled by a penalty shootout in which half the 10 kicks failed to find the target.
    Senegal created headlines around the world by defeating World Cup title holders France in the opening match of the 2002 tournament, and later added Sweden to their victims before a tiring team bravely bowed out in the quarter-finals.
    With many of the 2002 team still available, Polish coach Henri Kasperczak must believe he can maintain a Nations Cup record of never failing to reach the last four in three attempts.
    Lions forward El-Hadji Diouf announced his retirement from international football last year only to do a swift about-face, returning to the national squad due to a more professional approach being taken.
    The former African Footballer of the Year has found goals hard to come by lately for Bolton and Senegal, but he remains the talismanic figure of the Teranga Lions and could be in for a big Nations Cup.
    South Africa

    Bafana striker Sibusiso Zuma needs to have a
    much better Cup than in 2006 [GALLO/GETTY]


    Fifa world rank: 78
    Coach: Carlos Alberto Parreira
    Player to watch: Sibusiso Zuma
    Best Africa Cup finish: Winners 1996
    Since that amazing day in February 1996 when Nelson Mandela presented the trophy to Neil Tovey, Bafana Bafana (The Boys) have performed worse at each subsequent Africa Cup of Nations.
    A second-place finish behind Egypt in 1998 was followed by third place in 2000, a quarter-finals exit two years later, and two subsequent first-round departures.
    President Thabo Mbeki was among those who joined the chorus of disapproval after the 2006 fiasco in Egypt where Bafana lost to Guinea, Tunisia and Zambia without scoring a goal.
    Brazilian coach Carlos Alberto Parreira has been brought in with the longer-term goal being a good showing as hosts of the 2010 World Cup.
    While the Brazilian emphasises that team building takes time, Parreira has been told a quarter-finals place is the bottom line - no easy task in Group D that includes 2004 champions Tunisia, 2006 semi-finalists Senegal and shock 2006 World Cup qualifiers Angola.
    South Africa striker and former captain Sibusiso Zuma is desperate to impress at the Cup and will be on a mission to regain the respect of his country after leading Bafana during that disastrous campaign in Egypt.
    The Germany-based star scored four of the 10 goals that took South Africa through the qualifying campaign and has consistently impressed since Parreria took over as coach.

    Tunisia's Amine Chermiti could be one of the
    star strikers of the African Cup [GALLO/GETTY]

    Fifa world rank: 46
    Coach: Roger Lemerre
    Player to watch: Amine Chermiti
    Best Africa Cup finish: Winners 2004
    Tunisia, 2004 champions, have sufficient talent to justify their top seeding and progress from Group D, and if they avoid probable Group C table-toppers Cameroon, a place among the last four beckons.
    That is when the likes of Ghana, Ivory Coast and Nigeria are likely to enter the frame, but Frenchman Roger Lemerre, the only coach to win the European and African continental titles, believes the 'Carthage Eagles' can go all the way.
    Apart from defeating Morocco in the final of the 2004 tournament they hosted, Tunisia have made the knockout phase in five of the last six Cups and were runners-up to hosts South Africa in 1996.
    However the Carthage Eagles finished second to Sudan in qualifying and made it to Ghana only as one of best three runners-up.
    A recent loss to Zambia in a friendly triggered jeers from fans, and Lemerre has been unpopular for always changing his line-up.
    Tunisia striker Amine Chermiti is 1.76 metres tall and scored eight goals in the African Champions League last year to help Tunisian club Etoile Sahel win the trophy for the first time.
    The 20-year-old scored once in Nations Cup qualifying and his dribbling, speed and strength are set to cause problems for rival defenders.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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