The 2012 Africa Cup of Nations kicks off later today in Equatorial Guinea.
Co-hosted by Gabon, the tournament begins with Equatorial Guinea taking on Libya in the 37,500 capacity Bata Stadium, followed by Senegal against Zambia.
This year’s competition is without some of the best FIFA ranked African football Nations. Holders Egypt, the first side to win three titles in a row, did not even qualify this time around. Nor did Algeria, Cameroon, Nigeria and South Africa – meaning five of the confederation’s top FIFA ranked teams will be missing.
The qualifying stage produced a number of shocks – the biggest of all when South Africa falsely celebrated after believing they had won the group and with it qualification. Unfortunately for them, regulations in place meant that if points were level it came down to head-to-head stats and outsiders Niger finished top and qualified for the first time.
Below are the Groups and dates for the knockout stages of the tournament:
Group A: Equatorial Guinea, Libya, Senegal, Zambia.
Group B: Ivory Coast, Sudan, Burkina Faso, Malabo.
Group C: Gabon, Niger, Morocco, Tunisia.
Group D: Ghana, Botswana, Mali, Guinea.
1. 04/02/12: 1st A v 2nd B, Bata
2. 04/02/12: 1st B v 2nd A, Malabo
3. 05/02/12: 1st C v 2nd D, Libreville
4. 05/02/12: 1st D v 2nd C, Franceville
08/02/12: QF1 winner v QF4 winner, Bata
08/02/12: QF3 winner v QF2 winner, Libreville
3rd place play-off: 11/02/2012, Malabo
Final: 12/02/2012, Libreville