Thursday, October 25, 2012

AFCON 2013: Super Eagles Draw Zambia, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso in Group C

Stephen Keshi, Pix credits: Getty Images
18 years and a few months after Stephen Keshi captained the Super Eagles to winning the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) trophy in Tunis; the same man would be leading the Eagles as coach to the 2013 edition, with continental glory firmly in his sights. Not only that, he would have to overcome the same hurdle – the Chipolopolo of Zambia – that he and his team mates faced on that glorious April 10, 1994 night. 

However, while it is yet day before the big test, Keshi had already been talking tough about their now known opponents in South Africa 2013. “I have said to a lot of people and will say it again that I am not afraid of any team in the championship draws. You don’t win a championship by being afraid of your opponents and that is the spirit with which I am going to the draws with”, he was quoted as saying by Eagles Media Officer, Ben Alaiya, just two days before the draws were conducted on Wednesday, October 24, at the Durban International Convention Centre, South Africa.

Besides Zambia, the Eagles were drawn in Group C alongside Burkina Faso and Ethiopia. On January 21, The Eagles would kick off their Nations Cup with a match against the Burkina Faso in Nelspruit. While they face Zambia and Ethiopia on January 25 and 29 respectively.

Bwalya Pix credits: cafonline
For Kalusha Bwalya, the man who captained the Chipolopolo to silver in 1994, and now president of the Football Association of Zambia, it would have been a disaster if the defending AFCON champions had not qualified. The Chipolopolo had to do it the hard way though, by relying on a tense penalty shootout win over Uganda in their final qualifier matches. “I told the players that they needed to put everything into that final match against Uganda. Ultimately, we kept our nerves and we showed why we are champions by winning in the penalty shootout,” Bwalya told CAFonline in Durban.

The first match of the competition would be see hosts South Africa play Cape Verde, who stunned four-time champions Cameroon to book a place in their debut AFCON finals. 

Super Eagles. Pix credits: AFP
However for Nigerian fans, the question would be: can Bwalya’s Zambia get a revenge against Keshi’s Eagles and then go on to retain the trophy or can Keshi’s Eagles claim another Zambian scalp by getting a win in their group match and then go on to make history for the third time? South Africa 2013 will tell.
Slated to hold between January 19 and February 10, 2013, he tournament will be held in five South African cities - Durban, Johannesburg, Nelspruit, Port Elizabeth and Rustenburg.

Group A: South Africa, Cape Verde, Morocco, Angola
Group B: Ghana, DR Congo, Niger, Mali
Group C: Zambia, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Burkina Faso
Group D: Ivory Coast, Togo, Tunisia, Algeria

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