AFCON 2012 has the potential to be one of the most exciting Africa Cup of Nations in a long while.
On 19 January 2013, a spectacular African football tournament kicks off. The world of football will have its sights set on the golden continent, Africa, to see who will emerge as its best.
The fact that it is being held in 2013 already gives it a special flavour. Gone are the Afcons that had to share the limelight year with other continental championships and the World Cup.
I am going to share with you the reasons why I feel we should expect a spectacular tournament.
VENUE AND HOSTS
Hosting this championship is South Africa. We are guaranteed superb infrastructure and media coverage.
The stadiums are going to be in world-class state due to the fact that just over two years ago it hosted the World Cup. The nation is now used to hosting visitors and a tournament of this magnitude.
South Africa boasts one of the best organised and most lucrative national leagues in Africa and will be looking forward to performing well and putting recent accusations of match fixing behind them.
I expect a more than motivated and wildly supported “Bafana Bafana” side come January 19.
More so when they have the prestigious status of having been one of the rare glows of light for Africa in World Cup 2010, beating France along the way.
DIDIER DROGBA AND YAYA TOURE-LED IVORY COAST
This will be the last realistic opportunity for Didier Drogba to lead Ivory Coast to landmark silverware. The Elephants won their last title 20 years ago (1992) in Senegal.
Though a world star by all standards and by the trophies won playing for Chelsea, Afcon conquest will cement Drogba’s name in the history books if he can lead them to victory.
Ivory Coast currently parade the best African exports in European football, including the most talented African player in the Premier League and Africa’s double player of the year, “King” Yaya Toure.
He really is exciting to watch and is an asset to Ivory Coast. His enterprising nature and “leadership by action” playing style will be on show and will only add to the glamour and spectacle.
NIGERIA’S RETURN TO AFRICA’S CENTRE STAGE
For the first time in decades Nigeria did not qualify for an Afcon, missing out in 2012. Now it is back in full force with a new technical crew spearheaded by Stephen Keshi, who replaced Samson Siasia when he failed to qualify Nigeria.
The preparation for the tournament has not been smooth or short of scandals. The most famous is the dropping of Osaze Odewingwe from the squad and the eventual public washing of dirty linen between the coach and the player.
The recent draw against the Catalonia 11 of Spain, however, boosted hopes that the Super Eagles might be back on the right track.
The team is solid from the midfield upwards and this could produce serious problems for their opponents.
Nigeria has a point to prove and, with 160 million people wishing them on, it will be interesting.
They were definitely the best team last time around and, playing close to home the Zambians will be out to prove that they were not a flash in the pan.
They will definitely offer a fight and will not relinquish their title without a fight.
In all we should have a spectacular tournament and I cannot wait for the kickoff.