Africa Cup of Nations 2015: Group C – Ghana; Algeria; South Africa; Senegal
Best Finish: Champions, 1963, 1965, 1978, 1982.
By the time AFCON 2015 kicks off, it will have been 33 years since Ghana last won the title, an embarrassing fact for one of Africa’s most gifted teams. Indeed, in recent years, it has not been glory but internal divisions that have characterised the Black Stars’ reputation. This was particularly evident during the 2014 World Cup, when Ghana’s campaign was blighted by a player strike, fisticuffs and the expulsion of two players, leading to a post-tournament inquiry.
Boasting the likes of Asamoah Gyan, André Ayew, Michael Essien, Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu and rising star Christian Atsu, talent is the least of Ghana’s worries. The question is, whether new coach Avram Grant can harness that potential. He will have little time to settle into that job in a group of death containing Senegal, South Africa and Algeria.
Brimah Razak, Baba Rahman, Jonathan Mensah, Harrison Afful, John Boye, Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu, Mohammed Rabiu, Wakaso Mubarak, André Ayew, Asamoah Gyan, Majeed Waris
Best Finish: Champions, 1990.
It is rare that Algeria are looked at as possible winners of the Africa Cup of Nations, so it is testimony to how this squad has come together in the last few years that they can be considered genuine contenders. Algeria’s turning point came in 2010 when they edged past Egypt in a feisty play-off to reach the World Cup Finals. The team has grown in stature since, and, along with Nigeria, who didn’t qualify for AFCON 2015, were Africa’s best-performers at the 2014 World Cup.
That success carried on in the AFCON qualifiers as they achieved 15 out of a possible 18 points. Their only dropped points came from a loss against Mali in their final group game, when qualification was already secured. Built around the talents of the BBC’s African Player of the Year, Yacine Brahimi, along with Islam Slimani and Mehdi Lacen, Les Fennecs (“The Fennec Foxes”) should be odds-on to advance, even in this group of death.
Raïs M’Bolhi, Faouzi Ghoulam, Carl Medjani, Rafik Halliche, Aïssa Mandi, Riyad Mahrez, Medhi Lacen, Nabil Bentaleb, Sofiane Feghouli, Yacine Brahimi, Islam Slimani.
Best Finish: Champions, 1996.
Since winning the title in 1996, Bafana Bafana (“Boys Boys”) have been more hype than substance, getting worse with each tournament. They finished second in 1998, third in 2000, reached the quarter-finals in 2000, and then failed to get out of the group stage in the next three edition. As if that was not bad enough, they did not qualify in 2010 and 2012 and only returned as hosts in 2013. But new coach Ephraim “Shakes” Mashaba seems to have breathed a new lease of life into Bafana Bafana, and the team did not lose a single game in qualifying. Mashaba has put his faith in a young team and so far they have delivered.
South Africa is still mourning the tragic death of goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa in October 2014, and will be hoping they can dedicate success at the tournament to his memory.
Darren Keet, Rivaldo Coetzee, Eric Mathoho, Anele Ngcongca, Sibusiso Khumalo, Dean Furman, Oupa Manyisa, Thulani Serero, Andile Jali, Bongani Ndulula, Tokelo Rantie.
BEST FINISH: Runners-up, 2002.
Although blessed with attacking talent, Senegal have not fulfilled their potential in the Africa Cup of Nations.
After missing the first two qualifiers, forward Papiss Cissé was recalled by coach Alain Giresse and has proved a useful re-addition. He forms part of a formidable three-pronged strike force that includes West Ham’s in-form Diafra Sakho and Stoke’s Mame Biram Diouf. There is also Southampton’s tricky forward Sadio Mané to call upon. But it is not only in attack that the Lions of Teranga are strong – their back line conceded just once in six games.
Bouna Coundoul, Cheikhou Koyaté, Kara Mbodj, Papy Djilobodji, Cheikh M’Bengue, Stéphane Badji, Salif Sane, Sadio Mané, Papakouli Diop, Papiss Cissé, Mame Biram Diouf.