Tiote, Drogba discuss Ivorians’ chances
Cheik Tiote believes the time has come for Côte d'Ivoire to fulfil their potential and finally win their second CAF Africa Cup of Nations. Since their 1992 triumph, the Éléphants sqaud has consistently been full of star names, but they have not been able to turn that into continental success.
With reigning champions Egypt and the likes of Nigeria, South Africa and Cameroon all failing to qualify for this year's African finals, the Ivorians are the favourites to emerge victorious in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon, and Tiote is determined to see his side live up to that billing.
"We have great players, so we have to win something," said the Newcastle United midfielder, who counts players such as Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou, Yaya and Kolo Toure, Gervinho and Didier Zokora among his international team-mates.
"Every time there is an African tournament people tell us that we are favourites to win, but when you look at our trophy cabinet there is nothing there. Absolutely nothing. We have to win this Cup of Nations."
Despite the absence of several leading nations, Chelsea striker Drogba believes his country still have a tough task on their hands to end their long wait for CAN glory.
"I think the 2012 Cup of Nations will be very difficult, perhaps even more difficult than previous editions," said the two-time CAF African Footballer of the Year. "Our ambition is to improve on two years ago when we were eliminated in the quarter-finals."
Côte d'Ivoire have been drawn in Group B alongside Angola, Burkina Faso and Sudan, who they face in their opening match in Malabo on Sunday.
Stevanovic upbeat on Ghana hopes
The tournament kicks off one day earlier with two Group A matches, including co-hosts and debutants Equatorial Guinea facing Libya and Senegal meeting Zambia.
In Group C are Tunisia - the last country to win the tournament before Egypt's recent domination - Morocco, Niger and the other co-hosts Gabon. Meanwhile, Group D is made up of 2010 runners-up Ghana, Mali, Guinea and Botswana.
The highly-fancied Black Stars, who look to have striker Asamoah Gyan available again after injury, have been Cup of Nations champions on four occasions, but their last success was back in 1982. However, Ghana coach Goran Stevanovic is in optimistic mood heading into this year's event.
"I am sure after the first game Ghana will show the people of the world that we are really really favourites for this tournament," he told the BBC. "Senegal and Ivory Coast are our biggest opponents, but in a tournament everybody can surprise."