Afcon 2013: teams, seeds decided
16 October 2012
While Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana will be among the top seeds for the 2013 African Cup of Nations (Afcon), there were some big surprises in the final field as unheralded nations Cape Verde and Ethiopia secured their places in the continental finals taking place in South Africa from 19 January to 10 February.
Along with the Ivorians and Ghanains, hosts South Africa, who will play in the tournament opener at Soccer City in Johannesburg, have been designated a top seed, as have defending champions Zambia.
The Confederation of African Football (Caf) on Monday divided the 16 finalists into four "pots", which were decided after the final round of qualifying this past weekend. Pot One features the top seeds. Pot Two includes the teams next in line - Mali, Tunisia, Angola and Nigeria - and they will be split into different groups.
Pot three includes Algeria, Burkina Faso, Morocco and Niger, while Pot Four's teams are Togo, Cape Verde and Ethiopia.
The seeding is based on the past three Afcon tournaments, held in Ghana, Angola, and Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.
The highest ranked team to miss out on the 2013 finals was Egypt, the champions in 2006, 2008 and 2010, who are ranked 40th in the world.
Eight other teams ranked above Bafana Bafana also missed out.
Côte d'Ivoire, at number 16 the highest ranked of all African teams, should be the tournament favourites. In February of this year, they fell at the final hurdle in the Afcon final, beaten 8-7 from the penalty spot by Zambia after their clash had ended goalless.
Before that match they had scored seven wins on the trot. Their form since the Afcon final has been a little less impressive - three draws and three wins - but the fact of the matter is they have lost only in a penalty shootout in 2012.
They finished runners-up in 2006, were fourth in Ghana in 2008, went out in the quarterfinals in 2010 and finished second again earlier this year.
Algeria, at 25, is the second highest ranked country in the tournament. Their record this year includes six wins and a 2-1 loss to 27th ranked Mali. They've shown good form in front of goal, netting 17 times in their seven matches.
With Mali in Pot Two and Algeria in Pot Three, the possibility exists that a "group of death" could include the two highly ranked teams alongside one of the top seeds.
For Bafana Bafana, being one of the top seeds means they avoid the Ivorians, Ghana and Zambia in group play, which will boost their chances of advancing to the knockout stages of the competition.
Playing at home, too, will be an advantage, and the thrill of the country's title-winning success on home soil in 1996 will no doubt spur the current team on.
First Afcon final
The Cape Verde Islands, ranked 51st in the world and with a population of only half-a-million, will be contesting their first Afcon finals.
Niger, who kept South Africa out of the 2012 Afcon finals, will make a second appearance in succession in the finals. They're the lowest ranked team in the finals at 137th in the world.
There are 10 former winners among the finalists: Ethiopia (1962), Ghana (1963, 1965, 1978, 1982), Congo DR (1968, 1974) Morocco (1976), Nigeria (1980 and 1994), Algeria (1990), Côte d'Ivoire (1992), South Africa (1996), Tunisia (2004) and Zambia (2012).
Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo material