Etoo missing, plenty others aim to shine

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LIBREVILLE Even though the worlds highest-paid footballer will not be competing at the 28th Africa Cup of Nations, there will still be plenty of football stars on display.

The failure of traditional African footballing powerhouses Nigeria and Cameroon to qualify for the tournament robbed the competition of a host of stars led by Cameroons Samuel Etoo, whose move to Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala catapulted him to the top of the footballers salaries list.

But in their absence, there is still more than enough world-class talent to go around.

Ivory Coast midfielder Yaya Toure has helped Manchester City to the top of the Premier League table and was last month crowned African Footballer of the Year.

Toure (28) headlines a strong Ivory Coast team at the tournament in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon, with the clear aim of lifting the trophy a second time.

Ivorian coach Franois Zahoui, who is hoping to become only the 10th African coach to lift the trophy, has also called up Chelsea strikers Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou, Arsenals Gervinho, as well as Toures older brother Kolo, who also plays for Manchester City.

Another of the pre-tournament favourites is Ghana, whose squad though lacks the big-name players their rivals have.

The Ayew brothers Andre and Jordan both play for Olympique Marseille and are hoping to follow in the footsteps of their famous father Abedi Pele, who was in the winning Black Stars team of 1982.

Unlike his Ivorian and Ghanian counterparts, Seydou Keta plays for a team that is given few chances of making it all the way.

The Barcelona midfielder is the star and captain in a Mali side who were knocked out in the first round in the last two competitions.

Other players who could grab their fair share of headlines, are Newcastles Senegalese striker Demba Ba or Arsenals Moroccan forward Marouane Chamakh.