The draw for next year’s Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) was conducted at the Sipopo Convention Centre in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, on Wednesday evening.
Coaches and FA Representatives of 16 qualified teams joined President of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, H.E. Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, and President of the Confederation of African Football (Caf) Issa Hayatou in attendance, as well as other invited dignitaries.
Draw Master and Caf Secretary General Hicham El Amrani was assisted by selected African football legends like; ex-Egyptian striker, Mohamed Aboutreika, ex-Cameroon international, Alphonse Tchami and former South Africa-winning coach Shakes Mashaba, who will guide ‘Bafana Bafana’ in their ninth Afcon finals appearance in Equatorial Guinea beginning from January 17 to February 8.
It will be the second hosting of the championship in Equatorial Guinea, having co-hosted with Gabon in 2012. This was only confirmed last month, owing to Morocco’s objection to hosting the tournament on agreed dates for fear over the Ebola outbreak in some part of the continent.
“I thank His Excellency Teodoro Obiang Mbasoko on behalf of Caf. We acknowledge your decision to host the tourney in less than 2 months, a courageous decision worth mentioning for an emerging African country,” said Hayatou in his opening speech on Wednesday.
“Those who give will never think of it but those who receive will never forget.CAF will never forget this gesture by Equatorial Guinea.”
There will be not debutantes in the 2015 tournament. Holders Nigeria failed to qualify, losing out to Congo in the final qualifying tournament. They join Egypt, who in 2012 became the first nation ever to have failed to qualify after winning previous tournament, outside next year’s showpiece.
The opening match of the January tournament will be between Equatorial Guinea and Congo on January 17. Equatorial Guinea and Gabon were co-hosts in 2012, but will be slugging it out in Group A next month.
Group C is regarded as the most difficult group with 2002 runners-up Senegal hoping to count on their Premier League stars to scale the might of former champions Ghana ((1963, 1965, 1978, 1982), Algeria (1990) and South Africa (1996).
The host cities for each group are:
Group A – Bata
Group B – Ebibeyin
Group C – Mongomo
Group D – Malabo