Afcon 2012 gets underway


The journey for places at the Africa Cup of Nations to be staged in Gabon/Equatorial Guinea in 2012 begins today with the day one matches of the qualifying rounds.
Only four of the 45 teams vying for the 14 slots for the final tournament will be involved in the opening day qualifiers for the 28th edition of the continent’s showpiece soccer event.
The campaign begins with Group K, made up of Chad, Togo, Tunisia, Botswana and Malawi; incidentally the only exception of the 11 groups, consisted of four teams each.
Malawi’s Flames will play a no part in the opening matches leaving the quartet of Chad, Togo, Tunisia and Botswana battling for honours.
The Togolese Hawks under the tutelage of new trainer Thierry Froger will storm N’djamena to face Chad in their Group K opener.
The Chadians, nicknamed Sao, have sets sights on a convincing result to put them on course for qualification to their first ever major continental championship.
In Tunis, Tunisia’s Carthage Eagles will battle it out with the Zebras of Botswana in the other Group K clash. Both teams have been engaged in series of preparations in the build-up to the Afcon qualifier.
The Carthage Eagles, now managed by Frenchman Bertrand Marchand wrapped up their preparations with a 6-2 victory of the Desert Hawks of Sudan in an international friendly in Khartoum last week.
The Zebras, also managed a lone goal victory over Lesotho in Maseru, also last week to fine-tune their preparations ahead of their trip to Northern Africa.
Meanwhile, Botswana coach Stanley Tsoshane has been given a major boost with the availability of SuperSport United forward Dipsy Selolwane.
The availability of Selolwane, considered the livewire of the Zebras will largely aid the team’s quest following revelations that utility player and captain Mogogi Gabonamong, Boitumelo Mafoko, Pontsho Moloi and Tshepo Motlhabankwe will miss the tie.
From the qualifying series, the winners of the each of the 11 groups will qualify for the final tournament.
They be joined by the second placed team in Group K and two best runners up from the 10 groups of four teams each.