African sides prepare for qualifying
In then aftermath of a 2010 FIFA World Cup™ campaign filled with mixed results, African sides will go back to the drawing board when they return to the field to participate in friendly internationals ahead of next month's 2012 CAF Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers. Incumbent African champions, Egypt, Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire, South Africa, and Ghana, to mention just a few will all be in action to sharpen themselves for what is expected to be a tough qualifying campaign.
For some of the African teams, the friendlies will afford them an opportunity to regain confidence and erase the painful memories of the FIFA World Cup. One such country is Nigeria who were eliminated in the first round without a single win – even though they had been widely tipped to qualify for the last 16. The Super Eagles will face Korea Republic in Seoul on Wednesday. They will be without some of their star players including keeper Vincent Enyeama, John Obi Mikel, Obinna Nsofor and Yusuf Ayila. Meanwhile, fresh from a morale-boosting rise in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, African champions Egypt will begin a journey to reaffirm their dominance in Africa when they face DR Congo in a friendly international in Cairo. DR Congo coach, Robert Nouzaret said: “We have assembled a strong team to face Egypt. We have a lot of respect for them. However, we want to prepare for the qualifiers, that is our priority.”
On Wednesday, Ghana will make their first visit to a place where they almost wrote a new page in the history books of African football when they face South Africa in a friendly international in Johannesburg. "We all know how good Ghana are. They were the best African side at the World Cup, but I believe we can beat them. I am not making any promises but I have confidence in my players who I know will come to the party in my first game in charge of Bafana,” said South Africa coach, Pitso Mosimane.
The last time the Black Stars played at Soccer City, in a FIFA World Cup quarter-final on 2 July, they lost on penalties to Uruguay. The evening could have ended differently had Asamoah Gyan converted a last-minute spot-kick in extra time. They now face a South African side that, under new coach, Mosimane, is now looking for purpose and direction and eager to impress as they embark on the post-Carlos Alberto Parreira era.
Ghana star, Andre 'Dede' Ayew said it was important for the Black Stars to continue from where they left off during the World Cup. “It feels good to be back in South Africa and we are looking forward to doing well and build on our performance at the World Cup. We cannot be complacent.”
Côte d’Ivoire, without captain Didier Drogba, will travel to London to face Italy at Upton Park. The Italians will still have vivid memories of their disappointing FIFA World Cup campaign where they were knocked out in the first round. Côte d’Ivoire, on the other hand, find themselves at a crossroads. The current squad, which has been fondly referred to as the 'golden generation' has not brought any silverware back home. In January, they disappointed at the CAF Africa Cup of Nations in Angola and the same fate befell them at the World Cup finals in South Africa.
The Indomitable Lions of Cameroon will travel to Europe to face Poland at Szczecin. They, like Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire, still don’t have a permanent head coach following after the departure of Paul Le Guen.
Togo - Saudi Arabia
Algeria - Gabon
Angola - Uruguay
Mali - Guinea
Senegal - Cape Verde Islands
Morocco - Equatorial Guinea