FIFA had hoped football would unite a country that is still racially divided.
|Egypt have won the last three Cup of Nations but currently lie bottom of their group [GALLO/GETTY]|
The 2012 Africa Cup of Nations draw will be made on October 29 in Equatorial Guinea capital Malabo, the organisers said on Sunday.
Co-hosts Equatorial Guinea and Gabon are automatic participants in the biennial African football showcase and Botswana and Ivory Coast have filled two of the 14 qualifying places.
The identity of the other 12 teams will be known not later than October 9 when the final elimination matches are scheduled in a six-round competition that began last September.
Egypt, winners of the tournament a record seven times including the last three editions, are unlikely to be involved in the draw as they have failed to win any of four qualifiers and lie bottom of a group headed by South Africa.
Confederation of African Football (CAF) secretary general Hicham El Amrani, other CAF officials and African football stars will make the draw in which the 16 countries are split into four mini-leagues.
Group winners and runners-up advance to the quarter-finals of a tournament that will kick off on January 21 and conclude with the final on February 12 in Gabon capital Libreville.
The 2012 Cup of Nations will be the last staged in an even year with the following edition due just one year later in Libya, a venue likely to be changed because of the conflict between pro- and anti-Moamer Kadhafi forces.
CAF said the change was necessary to avoid every second African tournament being staged just six months before a FIFA World Cup.
Not on Song
Cameroon, four-time winners of the Cup of Nations, are another African football power in danger of missing the showcase as they trail Senegal and Democratic Republic of Congo in another pool.
The continuing divisions in the team were emphasised this weekend with Arsenal midfielder Alexander Song being fined for refusing a reconciliatory handshake from Samuel Eto’o.
|Alex Song of Arsenal hasn’t helped Cameroon’s Cup of Nations campaign [GALLO/GETTY]|
Song, who has not played for his country since a bust-up with captain Eto’o during the World Cup last year, had refused to shake hands with the African Footballer of the Year when the two met ahead of an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Senegal earlier this month.
It was the first time that Song, who missed the match because of injury, had returned to the squad since last year’s World Cup in South Africa. His disagreements with Eto’o led to him being sidelined during the tournament, in which Cameroon lost all their matches.
Song was fined $2,159 after a disciplinary hearing of the Cameroon Football Federation, state radio reported at the weekend.
Song had been charged along with Eto’o and Tottenham defender Benoit Assou Ekotto, who did not attend the hearing.
Eto’o was found not guilty at the hearing of missing a training session and showing indiscipline during the Senegal match when he disputed a substitution that coach Javier Clemente made.
Assou Ekotto was given an official warning for missing the match without explanation.
The June 4 match with Senegal ended goalless, effectively costing Cameroon the chance of a place in next year’s Cup of Nations finals.