After an occasionally frantic round of qualifying play-offs, the fifteen teams which will join hosts South Africa for CAN 2012 have been confirmed. They are Ghana, Mali, defending champions Zambia (just – it took a 9-8 victory in a penalty shootout to get past Uganda), Nigeria, Tunisia, Cote D’Ivoire, Morocco, Ethiopia, Cape Verde, Niger, Angola, Togo, RD Congo, Burkina Faso and Algeria.
The draw for the group stage of the tournament will take place on 24th October. FFW were keeping an eye on the key fixtures including Ligue 1 players, so here is a round-up of some of the action:
Botswana v Mali – carrying a 3-0 lead from the first leg, Mali battered Botswana 4-1 away, featuring goals from Bordeaux’s Cheick Diabaté and Abdou Traoré as well as Modibo Maiga (ex Sochaux) and Mamadou Samassa (ex – most recently – Valenciennes).
Tunisia v Sierra Leone – after a 2-2 draw away, Tunisia were held to a 0-0 draw at home, by a Sierra Leone team playing with ten men for over half the match. They progressed on away goals.
Senegal v Cote d’Ivoire – CIV won the first leg 4-2 so Senegal had a mountain to climb, but never really got started. A Drogba brace (including a penalty) put it out of reach, at which point the unhappy home support began rioting in the stands. The visiting fans took refuge on the pitch, and tear gas was reportedly used to stop the violence. The match was abandoned around the 70-minute mark, with the result being given to CIV.
Morocco v Mozambique – Mozambique had won 2-0 at home in the first leg, and Morocco looked nervy early on, but a goal from Berrada and then a penalty from Kharja put them level on aggregate and facing only ten men. El Arabi made it three, still a dangerous scoreline if Mozambique got an away goal, but they were camped in their area and never looked like recovering. Montpellier’s Younes Belhanda made way for Amrabat who got the fourth.
Cameroon v Cape Verde – Cape Verde had won 2-0 at home in the first leg, leading to a change in manager for Cameroon, former international Jean-Paul Akono coming in to try to rescue the situation. An early goal from Cape Verde’s Heldon mostly put paid to that, as while Emana equalised on 22 minutes, and Cameroon piled the pressure on, they needed another three goals to progress, and having missed a lot of chances, frustration became desperation.
Samuel Eto’o hit the post, Fabrice Olinga (the youngest player to score in La Liga, for Malaga, and still only sixteen) was introduced and immediately made a chance, and Valenciennes’ Vincent Aboubakar similarly missed within seconds of his introduction (and was later booked for diving in the box). Olinga did mark his national team début with a well-taken side-on strike in injury time to make it 2-1 on the night, but Cameroon are out, and Cape Verde (and Lille’s Ryan Mendes, on for Reims’ Odair Fortes) have qualified for their first-ever CAN.
Burkina Faso v Central African Republic – CAR had won the first leg 1-0, and then managed to score in the second as well, so while Burkina Faso got two, including a penalty from Dagano, they were going out on away goals until an injury time goal from Lorient’s Alain Traoré made it 3-1 on the night, in what was a very tense affair.
Algeria v Libya – Algeria, who failed to qualify for the 2012 CAN, got the only away win of the first legs, taking a 1-0 lead into the second, and killed off the tie completely with two goals in ninety seconds at the beginning of the match, Soudani scoring with a header from a corner on five minutes, then turning provider with the cross for Slimani to get the second. This game was also interrupted, the Libyan team protesting about chants from the home crowd, which descended into some pushing and shoving, but fortunately the match continued, Algeria sitting back comfortably on their lead to see out a 2-0 win, 3-0 on aggregate.
Club effects – players ‘potentially affected’ are those in the qualifying squads or with a recent call-up, there may of course be other players receiving call-ups as the tournament approaches:
- Ajaccio – Five players potentially affected, including Carl Medjani and Mehdi Mostefa (Algeria) in midfield, Fousseiny Diawara in defence and Sigamary Diarra in attack (Mali), so could be badly compromised. Defender Ricardo Faty (Senegal) will be staying.
- Bordeaux – could lose Cheick Diabaté and Abdou Traoré (Mali), but will keep hold of Lamine Sané (Senegal) and Landry N’Guemo (Cameroon).
- Brest – Four players potentially affected; three defenders including Ahmed Kantari (Morocco) and back-up attacker Jonathan Ayité (Togo).
- Evian – Seven players potentially affected, all over the park; Saber Khlifa, Zouheir Dhouadi (Tunisia) and Yannick Sagbo (CIV) in attack, Djakaridja Koné (Burkina Faso) and Mohammed Rabiu (Ghana) in midfield, and Cedric Mongongu (RD Congo) and Jonathan Mensah (Ghana) in defence, so could also be badly affected.
- Lille – Two players potentially affected, Ryan Mendes (Cape Verde) and possibly Salomon Kalou (CIV – not in the squad for the qualifiers, but that probably down to injury). LOSC will however keep hold of Aurelien Chedjou (Cameroon) in defence and Idrissa Gueye (Senegal) in midfield.
- Lorient – Midfield worries ahead with Alain Traoré (Burkina Faso) and Jacques-Al Romao (Togo) likely off to the CAN, but they will be relieved to hang onto Bruno Ecuele Manga (Gabon).
- Lyon – Defender Bakary Koné (Burkina Faso) will be the biggest miss, midfielder Sidy Koné (Mali) could also go but has not featured for OL this season.
- Marseille – Likely to lose both the Ayews (Ghana) as well as Charles Kaboré (Burkina Faso) and Senah Mango (Togo), which will leave them a little short, however they are keeping hold of Nicolas Nkoulou (Cameroon) and Soulemane Diawara (Senegal) in defence.
- Montpellier – Some big losses here, Younes Belhanda (Morocco), Jamel Saihi (Tunisia) and possibly John Utaka (Nigeria), coming after the news that Karim Ait-Fana has done his anterior cruciate ligament and will be out for around six months. Montpellier will however hang onto Henri Bedimo (Cameroon) and Souleymane Camara (Senegal).
- Nancy – Defender Joel Sami likely to represent RD Congo, but Cameroonian contingent of keeper Guy N’Dy Assembe and midfielder Benjamin Moukandjo will be staying put.
- Nice – Midfielder Mahamane Traoré should be in the Mali squad, but Gabon’s Lloyd Palun will be retained.
- PSG – The absence of mostly unused defender Siaka Tiené (CIV) might not affect the selection, but Mohamed Sissoko (Mali) could leave a gap in midfield.
- Reims – Four players potentially affected, down the spine of the team: keeper Kossi Agassa (Togo), defender Mohamed Fofana (Mali), midfielder Odair Fortes (Cape Verde) and striker Floyd Ayité (Togo). Papa Souaré (Senegal) will be staying behind).
- Rennes – Could be in trouble up-front, with Cheick Diarra (Mali) and Jonathan Pitroipa (Burkina Faso) both likely to be off, as well as defender John Boye (Ghana). SRFC do hold onto Sadio Diallo (Guinea) in attack and Cameroonians Kana-Biyik and Makoun.
- Sochaux – Five players potentially affected, two in defence (Cedric Kante for Mali and Yassine Mikari for Tunisia) and three in midfield, Kalilou Traore (Mali), Ishmael Yartey (Ghana) and most worryingly, Ryad Boudebouz for Algeria.
- St Etienne – The big loss will be Max Gradel (CIV) but ASSE will be relieved to hang onto Pierre-Emerick Aubemayang (Gabon).
- Toulouse – Defensive switch ahoy with Aymen Abdennour (Tunisia) likely to go, but Cheikh M’Bengue (Senegal) staying.
- Valenciennes – Could lose defender Benjamin Angoua (CIV) and midfielder Foued Kadir (Algeria), but keep Remi Gomis (Senegal) in midfield and Vincent Aboubakar (Cameroon) in attack.
Bastia and Troyes seem unlikely to lose any players, as their only eligible players, Harek and Bezzaz respectively, do not appear to have been called up for Algeria. The worst-affected teams look to be Ajaccio, Evian, Reims, Rennes and Sochaux.
Canal+ have picked up the CAN coverage in France, and featured several of the qualifiers, some on the (additional charge) Foot+ package. They will also, per reports, be covering the African Champions League