The draw for the 29th edition of Africa Cup of Nations to be hosted by South Africa between 19th January and 10th February is out. Ethiopia who are back after a 20-year absence will open their campaign with a match against defending champions Zambia on 21st January at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit. Another Group C clash pitting Nigeria and Zambia should be a must watch.
The final draw for the 2013 Orange Africa Cup of Nations was conducted amid much excitement at Durban’s Chief Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre on Wednesday night.
South Africans, inside the packed conference venue and elsewhere throughout the country which will host the tournament from January 19 to February 10, cheered as President Jacob Zuma drew the first fixture, which will feature Bafana Bafana against debutants Cape Verde in Group A.
Bafana’s match against the Islanders will take place at the 94 000-seat Soccer City in Johannesburg at 6pm , followed by another Group A fixture between Morocco and Angola (9pm).
The Group A teams will play all their other matches in Durban, at the Moses Mabhida Stadium.
President Zuma, speaking earlier at the glittering gala evening, restated South Africa’s commitment towards the Cup of Nations, saying the country that furst hosted the event in 1996 would once again deliver a world-class event.
“We have hosted many events before and we have proven our ability,” President Zuma told the audience which, among other dignitaries, included His Majesty, the Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini, and Caf President Issa Hayatou.
As it’s often the case, the draw produced what will surely become known as “Group of Death”. That category goes to Group D, which comprise Ivory Coast, Tunisia, Algeria and Togo. Group D will be based in the mining town of Rustenburg. Defending champions Zambia, who were seeded in Group C, will be based at Mbombela/Nelspruit alongside Togo, Nigeria and Ethiopia.
Kalusha Bwalya, the president of the Football Association of Zambia, was one of the draw conductors last night and could hardly believe his eyes when he pulled out Nigeria, a name that almost all the top-seeded teams had hoped to avoid.
Bwalya’s Zambia will take on the Super Eagles in their second match at Nelspruit on January 25. The Chipolopolo’s first game is against Ethiopia, who are making a return to the Cup of Nations finals after 31 years, on January 21.
In Group B, the key clash in Ghana vs Mali, which is a repeat of the third-place playoff match between the sides at Equatorial Guinea/Gabon earlier this year.
The Democratic Republic of Congo and Niger are the other teams in Group B, to be based in the coastal city of Port Elizabeth.
Wednesday night’s draw also saw the unveiling of “Takuma” as the official 2013 Cup of Nations mascot, and the colourful “Katlego” as the official match-bal.
Source: CECAFA website