Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Nigeria to face Zambia, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia in Nations Cup

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The Super Eagles will camp in Zimbabwe for the competition.

Nigeria has been drawn in the same group as defending champions, Zambia; Burkina Faso; and Ethiopia for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations.

The draws, held Wednesday evening in South Africa, means the 16 teams that qualified for the tournament now know their opponents.

At the ceremony, a moment of silence was observed to honour the former Assistant Coach of Bafana Bafana of South Africa, Thomas Madigage, who was killed in a car accident last Thursday; after which the official ball was unveiled.

After that, there was a music session followed by the unveiling of the mascot, a hippo.

Prominent personalities including South African President, Jacob Zuma, made speeches at the event.

“We are counting down the last 86 days before South Africa hosts the 29th edition of Africa’s biggest soccer festival. We are humbled by the trust that CAF has once again place on South Africa and our people to host this event.”

The event’s Local Organising Committee Chairman, Mwelo Nonkonyane, said: “We know the responsibility of hosting such a big tournament, but we will not let CAF or Africa down.”

Former Bafana Bafana Skipper, Lucas Radebe, said : “I will be unveiling the ball for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations. It is colourful, that’s all I can say! I have kicked the new ball and did some tricks with it. There will be no excused from goalkeepers this time.”

The coaches of the participating teams in the 2013 Nations Cup also gave brief speeches before the draws.

Current Bafana Bafana Coach, Gordon Igesund, said that: “The atmosphere is electric here and the moment is here to see who we will play. That is always important because then you can do your preparations correctly once you know who you will face. The bottom line is simple, we have to play them all, we will be ready to play whoever we get. Playing at home is a big advantage.”

A former Bafana Bafana Coach, Clive Barker, winner of the Africa Cup of Nations in 1996 said: “I feel another big vibe coming, I think Gordon [Igesund] will deliver. You can’t worry about the draw, you have to play everybody if you want to win the trophy. The Class of 2012 have a great technical team and playing at home, they can do it.”

Congo DR Coach, Claude Le Roy, said: “I have a long story with the Africa Cup of Nations, It is a huge honour to be in South Africa, the country of Nelson Mandela. We have a good team, not a superb team but a good team. Qualification for the second round will be a success.”

Nigerian Coach, Stephen Keshi, said: “Anything that comes our way, we will take it. Playing South Africa is a possibility, they are a brother country, if we play them in the final it will be great.”

Zambia Coach Herve Renard: “There is no pressure, the only pressure was to become part of this tournament. Now we are here and we have to just enjoy it now. If I can avoid Nigeria I will be happy!”

The Zamian Coach could not have his way as he has now been grouped with Nigeria.

Below are the groupings for the tournament, billed to start on January 19, as  well as the cities were each group will be playing.

GROUP A (Durban)
A1 – South Africa
A2 – Angola
A3 – Morocco
A4 – Cape Verde

GROUP B (Port Elizabeth)
B1 – Ghana
B2 – Mali
B3 – Niger
B4 – DR Congo

GROUP C (Mbombela)
C1 – Zambia
C2 – Nigeria
C3 – Burkina Faso
C4 – Ethiopia

GROUP D (Rustenburg)
D1 – Cote d’Ivoire
D2 – Tunisia
D3 – Algeria
D4 – Togo

In preparation for the tournament, Nigeria will play a friendly match against Venezuela in Miami, Florida, next month; and will camp in Zimbabwe to get familiar with the Southern African weather.

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