Tag Archives: athletic

Football League matches cancelled between Sheffield United and Brentford, Shrewsbury and Oldham

Sheffield United v Brentford TV clash tops list of Football League matches postponed due to snow

By
Graeme Yorke

PUBLISHED:

09:12 GMT, 23 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

10:13 GMT, 23 March 2013

LEAGUE MATCHES POSTPONED

npower League 1
Sheff Utd v Brentford
Shrewsbury v Oldham
Crawley Town v Crewe

npower League 2
Port Vale v Aldershot
Chesterfield v Plymouth
Burton Albion v Wycombe
Rotherham v Exeter
Rochdale v Southend

Blue Square bet premier
Braintree Town v Alfreton Town
Barrow v Ebbsfleet United

The Irn-Bru Scottish Football League Championship Third Division
Annan Athletic v Queens Park
Elgin City v Clyde

Saturday's League One promotion clash between Sheffield United and Brentford has been postponed due to snow, a long with a number of other Football League fixtures.

Heavy snowfall across the country has hit the Football League schedule badly, with the match between Shrewsbury and Oldham Athletic also affected.

In League Two, Port Vale's home meeting with Aldershot was also wiped out, with groups of fans unable to clear the pitch as snow continued to fall.

Vale acknowledged the postponement on their website.

Chesterfield and Plymouth will also have to rearrange their fixture. So too will the games between Chesterfield and Plymouth, Burton Albion and Wycombe, Rotherham and Exeter and Rochdale and Southend.

No chance: Snow banks line the side of Greenhous Meadow stadium, home of Shrewsbury Town

No chance: Snow banks line the side of Greenhous Meadow stadium, home of Shrewsbury Town

Real Madrid 4 Getafe 0 match report

Real Madrid 4 Getafe 0: Hat-trick hero Ronaldo passes 300 club goals as champions end explosive week on a high

By
Lee Bryan

PUBLISHED:

13:31 GMT, 27 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

13:54 GMT, 27 January 2013

Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat-trick and passed the landmark of 300 club goals as Real Madrid put a turbulent week behind them with a 4-0 win at home to Getafe in La Liga on Sunday to close to within four points of second-placed Atletico Madrid.

The build-up to the game at the Bernabeu had been dominated by a report in Marca sports daily that said captains Iker Casillas and Sergio Ramos had threatened to leave unless coach Jose Mourinho was dismissed.

Real president Florentino Perez called a news conference to deny the story and accused the newspaper of lying and the Spanish champions let their football do the talking with a comfortable victory against their city rivals.

Big hug: Mesut Ozil celebrates with hat-trick hero Cristiano Ronaldo

Big hug: Mesut Ozil celebrates with hat-trick hero Cristiano Ronaldo

Prolific: Ronaldo scored his 300th club goal as Real Madrid smashed Getafe 4-0 in an early kick-off

Prolific: Ronaldo scored his 300th club goal as Real Madrid smashed Getafe 4-0 in an early kick-off

Mourinho, who turned 50 on Saturday, left several key players out of his starting lineup, including Xabi Alonso and Sami Khedira, and Real struggled to break through a determined Getafe defence in the first half.

Once Ramos had scrambled the ball into the net at a corner eight minutes after the break the home side turned the screw and Ronaldo struck three times in 10 minutes, the first his 300th club goal.

The Portuguese, who was substituted with around 15 minutes left after a knock to his right ankle, scored five for Sporting, 118 for Manchester United and now has 179 for Real thanks to his 20th career treble.

Lead: Sergio Ramos scored the opening goal for Real Madrid

Lead: Sergio Ramos scored the opening goal for Real Madrid

Lead: Sergio Ramos scored the opening goal for Real Madrid

Real have 43 points from 21 of 38 matches, with Atletico on 47 ahead of their match at Athletic Bilbao later on Sunday when they will be without injured top scorer Radamel Falcao.

Leaders Barcelona, who play at Real in their Spanish Cup semi-final first leg on Wednesday, are looking to get back to winning ways when they host struggling Osasuna.

Tito Vilanova’s side lost their unbeaten
record and dropped points for only the second time this season when
they suffered a 3-2 defeat at Real Sociedad last weekend but still have
an eight-point lead over Atletico.

Chase: Ronaldo's hat-trick helped Real Madrid close the gap to city rivals Atletico to four points

Chase: Ronaldo's hat-trick helped Real Madrid close the gap to city rivals Atletico to four points

Smile, Jose: Reports this week suggested Iker Casillas and Ramos wanted Jose Mourinho dismissed otherwise they would leave

Smile, Jose: Reports this week suggested Iker Casillas and Ramos wanted Jose Mourinho dismissed otherwise they would leave

Getafe, who beat Real 2-1 at their Coliseum stadium earlier in the season but whose form has dipped in recent weeks, are 11th on 26 points.

Leeds v Tottenham live

FA CUP LIVE: Leeds v Tottenham – the fourth round action as it happens from Elland Road

By
Adam Shergold

PUBLISHED:

04:00 GMT, 27 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

13:49 GMT, 27 January 2013

Follow Sportsmail's coverage of the FA Cup as Leeds host Tottenham at Elland Road to continue the day's fourth round action. The Championship side will be hoping for an upset when they take on Spurs who are flying high in the Premier League in an attempt to secure a Champions League spot.

Leeds United v Tottenham Hotspur

Leeds United: Ashdown, Byram, Peltier, Lees, White, Green, Brown, Austin, Varney, Diouf, McCormack

Substitutes: Kenny, Pearce, Tonge, Norris, Somma, Hall, Dawson

Tottenham Hotspur: Friedel, Naughton, Caulker, Vertonghen, Assou-Ekotto, Huddlestone, Parker, Lennon, Bale, Sigurdsson, Dempsey

Substitutes: Gomes, Walker, Townsend, Livermore, Dembele, Dawson, Obika

Referee: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire)

1.40pm It's been a wonderful weekend so far for upsets in the Cup. In case you missed any of yesterday's headlines:

Non-league Luton Town stunned Premier League Norwich City with a late Scott Rendell goal at Carrow Road.

Milton Keynes Dons destroyed a much-changed QPR at Loftus Road.

At Griffin Park, however, it's now level again as Fernando Torres makes it 2-2.

Whoever makes it through, you can see the draw for the fifth round live here on Mail Online shortly before 6pm – after the Oldham Athletic v Liverpool match at Boundary Park.

1.35pm While there may be a seismic upset at Griffin Park, Tottenham appear very confident in their belief that Premier League class will prevail at Elland Road.

Michael Dawson, on the bench today, is already dreaming of another Wembley appearance, while former Spurs favourite Steffan Freund stuck the boot in, saying Spurs will never go bankrupt and tumble to the third tier like Leeds did.

1.30pm Brentford have just re-taken the lead against Chelsea, courtesy of a Harry Forrester penalty. You can follow the closing stages here.

1.20pm Stat pack: These two famous old clubs have met on five occasions in the FA Cup before today, with Leeds winning just one of them (a sixth round tie in 1972, when they went on to win the Cup).

The most recent meeting was in 2010, also in the fourth round, when Leeds earned a 2-2 draw at White Hart Lane (YouTube highlights), only for Spurs to beat them 3-1 in the replay – Jermain Defoe scoring a hat-trick.

Spurs have kept three clean sheets in their last four away FA Cup games, but have failed to score in three of the four themselves.

Leeds have been eliminated by North London clubs in each of the last three FA Cups, losing to Tottenham in 2010 and Arsenal in 2011 and 2012.

At Elland Road, Leeds have lost just one of their last eight games (W6 D1), although that defeat came against another Premier League side, Chelsea, 5-1 in the Capital One Cup.

Andre Villas Boas's Tottenham side are now unbeaten in eight games, winning five and drawing three. After no goals in his first 13 games in the competition, Gareth Bale has scored in three successive FA Cup games.

A large crowd is expected at Elland Road this afternoon, but a few of them may get their toes wet. This was the scene in the car park ahead of the match as heavy rain and melting ice caused flooding.

A car drives across the flooded car park at Elland Road

1.15pm Kick-off is at 2pm for this one. In the meantime, you can follow Dan Ripley's live blog of the Brentford-Chelsea match here. Oscar has just levelled for Chelsea, so the latest score is 1-1.

1.12pm The big news for Leeds fans is that Luciano Becchio isn't involved at all after the Argentine handed in a transfer request during the week.

Where does the future lie Luciano Becchio handed in a transfer request to Leeds last week

Where does the future lie Luciano Becchio handed in a transfer request to Leeds last week

1.10pm Good afternoon and a very warm welcome to our live coverage of the weekend's penultimate FA Cup fourth round tie between Leeds United and Tottenham Hotspur at Elland Road.

It promises to be a cracker and here are the two starting line-ups for the match:

Leeds United: Ashdown, Byram, Peltier, Lees, White, Green, Brown, Austin, Varney, Diouf, McCormack

Substitutes: Kenny, Pearce, Tonge, Norris, Somma, Hall, Dawson

Tottenham Hotspur: Friedel, Naughton, Caulker, Vertonghen, Assou-Ekotto, Huddlestone, Parker, Lennon, Bale, Sigurdsson, Dempsey

Substitutes: Gomes, Walker, Townsend, Livermore, Dembele, Dawson, Obika

Away day blues Tottenham will aim to record their first win on the road in 2013

Away day blues Tottenham will aim to record their first win on the road in 2013

Wigan complete a six-month loan of Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Robles

Wigan complete six-month loan of Atletico Madrid keeper Robles

By
Graeme Yorke

PUBLISHED:

20:34 GMT, 17 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

20:34 GMT, 17 January 2013

Wigan have signed goalkeeper Joel Robles on loan from Atletico Madrid until the end of the season.

The 22-year-old had been on trial at the DW stadium and boss Roberto Martinez was sufficiently impressed to bring the 22-year-old into his first-team squad.

Atletico confirmed the deal tonight in a statement on their website, which read: 'Atletico Madrid and Wigan Athletic have reached an agreement so that Joel Robles, after a trial period with the English club, will play on loan until June 30 with the Premier League team.

Joel Robles has been courted by the likes of Man City and Tottenham

Young star: Joel Robles has been courted by the likes of Man City and Tottenham

'The goalkeeper will return to the ''rojiblanco'' at the end of this loan period.'

Robles has yet to break into the Atletico first team on a regular basis, with Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois currently on loan with the club and the established preferred choice of coach Diego Simeone.

The 6ft 5in shot-stopper had a loan spell with Rayo Vallecano last season before returning to the Vicente Calderon stadium.

At Wigan he will provide competition for number one Ali Al Habsi and reserve Mike Pollitt.

Roberto Martinez will now have stronger competition between his keepers

Happy man: Roberto Martinez will now have more competition between keepers

Africa Cup of Nations 2013: Ultimate guide

Africa Cup of Nations 2013: Your ultimate guide to the action in South Africa

. Known as a
‘fixer’, he has an established record of turning teams around and has
led four different teams to the Premier Soccer League (PSL) title.

Captain: Bongani Khumalo – Was handed
the captain’s armband following the retirement of Everton’s Steven
Pienaar and was Igesund’s first choice. Fans of Tottenham may recall
that Khumalo joined the club from feeder club Supersport United in
January 2011 and the 26-year-old centre-back remains on their books,
despite his only appearances in English football coming during loan
spells at Preston North End and then Reading. He is currently out in
Greece on loan at PAOK.

British based players: Kagisho Dikgacoi
(Crystal Palace, midfielder, 48 caps and two goals); Dean Furman (Oldham
Athletic, midfielder, five caps)

Star Player: Katlego Mphela – A player
who has impressed ever since joining the Bafana Bafana fold in 2005 and
who boasts an impressive scoring record of 23 goals in 47 appearances.
Many of these have been eye-catching or crucial in the context of the
game – strikes of note include a last minute 30-yard free-kick to take
the 2009 Confederations Cup third-place play-off with Spain into extra
time.

Squad: Goalkeepers: Itumeleng Khune (Kaizer Chiefs), Senzo Meyiwa (Orlando Pirates), Wayne Sandilands (Mamelodi Sundowns)

Defenders: Siboniso Gaxa and Tshepo
Masilela (Chiefs), Thabo Matlaba and Siyabonga Sangweni (Pirates),
Bongani Khumalo (PAOK), Anele Ngcongca (Genk), Thabo Nthethe
(Bloemfontein Celtic)

Midfielders: Reneilwe Letsholonyane and
Siphiwe Tshabalala (Chiefs), Lerato Chabangu (Moroka Swallows), Kagiso
Dikgacoi (Crystal Palace), Dean Furman (Oldham), Max Mahlangu
(Helsingborg), Oupa Manyisa (Pirates), Thuso Phala (Platinum Stars),
Thulani Serero (Ajax)

Strikers: Lehlohonolo Majoro and Bernard Parker (Chiefs), Katlego Mphela (Sundowns), Tokelo Rantie (Malmo)

Morocco

Nickname: Lions of the Atlas

FIFA Ranking: 74

Colours: Red

Best Cup of Nations: Winners, 1976

Manager: Rachid Taoussi – A relatively
recent appointment, having replaced Eric Gerets when Morocco
embarrassingly lost to Mozambique in the first leg of their Africa Cup
of Nations qualifier in September last year. His first successful task
was to overcome that 2-0 deficit with a 4-0 home win to seal their place
in the competition. Taoussi, 56, earned his appointment by taking
Moroccan side Maghreb Fez to a historic triple of African Federation
Cup, African Super Cup and the Throne Cup.

Captain: Nadir Lamyaghri – A new
appointment following an unedifying war of words between Taoussi and
regular captain Houssine Kharja in the build-up to the tournament.
Kharja hit out at his manager, whom he believed was ignoring him because
he had moved from Fiorentina to Qatari side Al-Arabi last June. ‘I
think Taoussi lacked courage – during the past few months he has been
very evasive with me, using excuses not to choose me such as the
distance I must travel for matches,’ he has said. Lamyaghri is a
long-serving goalkeeper, with 37 caps to his credit.

British based players: Karim El Ahmadi
(Aston Villa, midfielder, 19 caps and one goal); Oussama Assaidi
(Liverpool, striker, 11 caps and one goal)

Star Player: Abdelaziz Barrada –
Morocco’s up-and-coming hope, who has played for Getafe in La Liga since
August 2011. The 23-year-old central midfielder possesses a good first
touch, intelligent passing range and can also take a mean free-kick.

Squad: Goalkeepers: Khalid Askiri (Raja Casablanca), Nadir Lamyaghri (Wydad Casablanca), Anas Zniti (Moghreb Fes)

Defenders: Abderahim Chakir (FAR Rabat),
Abdelatif Nousseir (Moghreb Fes), Issam El Adoua (Guimaraes), Mehdi
Benatia (Udinese), Zakarya Bergdich (Lens), Ahmed Kantari (Brest),
Abdelhamid El Kaoutari (Montpellier)

Midfielders: Karim El Ahmadi (Aston
Villa), Abdelaziz Barrada (Getafe), Chahir Belghazouani (Ajaccio),
Younes Belhanda (Montpellier), Adil Hermach (Al Hilal), Kamal Chafni
(Brest), Mehdi Namli (Moghreb Tetouan)

Strikers: Nordin Amrabat (Galatasaray),
Youssef El Arabi (Granada), Oussama Assaidi (Liverpool), Abderrazak
Hamdallah (Olympique Safi), Mounir El Hamdaoui (Fiorentina), Youssef
Kadioui (FAR)

Home rule: Spurs' Khumalo will be hoping to lead his nation to glory

Home rule: Spurs' Khumalo will be hoping to lead his nation to glory

Angola

Nickname: The Sable Antelopes

FIFA Ranking: 84

Colours: Red and black

Best Cup of Nations: Quarter-finals, 2008 and 2010

Manager: Gustavo Ferrin – Ferrin, who
hails from Uruguay, replaced Lito Vidigal after Angola failed to get
beyond the group stages of the Africa Cup of Nations last year. His
challenge is to guide Angola to a second World Cup finals, following
their appearance at the Germany tournament in 2006, and so this
tournament should serve as a good yardstick.

Captain: Manucho – remember him The
great hope of Angolan football, talent spotted and given his dream move
to Manchester United back in 2008. He played just ten minutes of league football at Old
Trafford before loan spells at Panathinaikos and Hull City. He’s now in
Spain at Real Valladolid and has a decent scoring record.

Star Player: Djalma Campos – he versatile frontman is on the
books of FC Porto, though he is spending the season on loan with
Kasimpasa in Turkey, the side Roy Keane was linked to late last year. He
has three goals in 29 appearances for Angola.

Squad: Goalkeepers: Lama (Petro Atletico), Landu (Recreativo Libolo), Neblu (Primeiro Agosto)

Defenders: Amaro, Bastos and Dani
Massunguna (Primeiro), Fabricio, Mingo Bille and Pirolito (InterClube),
Marco Airosa (AEL Limassol), Lunguinha (Kabuscorp), Zuela (Apoel
Nicosia)

Midfielders: Dede and Gilberto (AEL Limassol), Manucho Dinis (Primeiro), Manuel (Aviacao), Miguel (Petro)

Strikers: Djalma (Kasimpasa), Geraldo
(Parana), Guilherme Afonso (Vaduz), Manucho Goncalves (Real Valladolid),
Mateus (Nacional), Yano (Progresso)

Cape Verde Islands

Nickname: Blue Sharks

FIFA Ranking: 69

Colours: Blue, white and red

Best Cup of Nations: First tournament

Manager: Lucio Antunes – The island
nation are led into their first major tournament by Antunes who, in his
three years in the post, has successfully scouted a group of players
from the country’s small population and got them to the finals.

Captain: Nando Maria Neves – 34-year-old
centre-back, nicknamed Nando, who plies his trade with French second
division side Chateauroux and has 28 caps for Cape Verde.

A bit of a
journeyman player, he has played for teams in Portugal, Switzerland,
Tunisia, Qatar and the Czech Republic.

Star Player: Ryan Mendes – If Cape Verde
are to achieve anything in this tournament, much will depend on the
attacking play of Mendes, who plays for French club Lille.

The
23-year-old scored three important goals in the AFCON 2013 qualification
tournament, having worked his way through the national team’s youth
ranks.

Squad: Goalkeepers: Fock (Petro Atletico), Rilly (Mindelense), Vozinha (Progresso Sambizanga)

Defenders: Carlitos (AEL Limassol),
Fernando Varela (Vaslui), Gege (Maritimo), Guy Ramos (Waalwijk), Josimar
(Dordrecht), Nando (Chateauroux), Nivaldo (Academica Coimbra), Pecks
(Gil Vicente)

Midfielders: Babanco and David Silva
(Olhanense), Platini (Santa Clara), Roni (Fola Esch), Marco Soares
(Omonia Nicosia), Stenio (Feirense), Toni Varela (Sparta Rotterdam)

Strikers: Djaniny (Olhanense), Heldon (Maritimo), Julio Tavares (Dijon), Ryan Mendes (Lille), Rambe (Belenenses)

GROUP A FIXTURES

Saturday January 19 – Johannesburg
South Africa v Cape Verde Islands (4pm) – ITV4 and British Eurosport
Angola v Morocco (7pm) – British Eurosport

Wednesday January 23 – Johannesburg
South Africa v Angola (3pm) – British Eurosport
Morocco v Cape Verde Islands (6pm) – ITV4 and British Eurosport

Sunday January 27 – Durban
Morocco v South Africa (5pm) – ITV4 (tbc) and British Eurosport

Sunday January 27 – Port Elizabeth
Cape Verde Islands v Angola (5pm) – British Eurosport 2

Danny Mills' verdict

As with the World Cup in 2010, this will be a showcase of both South Africa as a team and nation.

The support of the home crowd will give them a lift by another ten per cent in each game. But they bring a young, inexperienced team to the tournament and probably won’t have enough to go all the way.

I'm not sure how it’s going to go for Morocco and the other North African nations.

Morocco have Karim El Ahmadi, whom Aston Villa could do without losing given they are struggling at the moment.

First-timers: Cape Verde are making their debut at the finals

First-timers: Cape Verde are making their debut at the finals

GROUP B

Ghana

Nickname: Black Stars

FIFA Ranking: 30

Colours: All-white

Best Cup of Nations: Winners 1963, 1965, 1978, 1982

Manager: James Kwesi Appiah – After a
run of two successive Serbian managers, the Black Stars appointed almost
from within when selecting Appiah, given that he had served as interim
boss previously. A former left-back and captain for the national side
between 1987 and 1992, he was given the top job in April last year.

Captain: Asamoah Gyan – It's been quite a
rollercoaster for Gyan since he shot to prominence at the 2010 World
Cup. There, he scored three important goals, including the extra time
winner against the United States in the second round.

He famously missed
a last minute penalty in the quarter-final with Uruguay, following Luis
Suarez’s deliberate handball on the line.

His performances earned a
move to Sunderland, where an encouraging and fairly prolific first
season was followed by niggling injuries in his second. Gyan now plays
for Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates, where he is on a five-year
contract worth 6.4m.

British based player: Albert Adomah (Bristol City, Midfielder, four caps)

Squad: Goalkeepers: Daniel Adjei (Liberty Professionals), Fatau Dauda (Ashanti Gold), Adam Kwarasey (Stromsgodset)

Defenders: Harrison Afful (Esperance),
Jerry Akaminko (Eskisehirspor), Mohammed Awal (Maritzburg Utd), John
Boye (Rennes), Kissi Boateng (Berekum Chelsea), Jonathan Mensah (Evian),
John Paintsil (Hapoel Tel Aviv), Isaac Vorsah (Red Bull Salzburg)

Midfielders: Albert Adomah (Bristol
City), Anthony Annan (Osasuna), Kwadwo Asamoah (Juventus), Solomon
Asante (Berekum), Christian Atsu (Porto), Emmanuel Agyemang Badu
(Udinese), Derek Boateng (Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk), Mohammed Rabiu
(Evian), Mubarak Wakaso (Espanyol)

Strikers: Emmanuel Clottey (Esperance), Asamoah Gyan (Al Ain), Richmond Boakye Yiadom (Sassuolo)

Star Player: Kwadwo Asamoah – despite
being only 24, Asamoah is an accomplished player for both Ghana, for
whom he has 41 caps, and his club Juventus, where his dynamic midfield
performances have been of a maturing player reaching his full potential.

Congo DR

Nickname: The Leopards

FIFA Ranking: 99

Colours: Blue and red

Best Cup of Nations: Winners, 1968 and 1974

Manager: Claude Le Roy – The blonde
haired Frenchman has had an extraordinary career, having managed across
Africa and the Middle East. He was briefly at Cambridge United in 2004,
though he was essentially volunteering to assist coach Herve Renard, who
will feature in this tournament as manager of Zambia. Le Roy previously
managed DR Congo between 2004 and 2006 and returned in 2011.

Captain: Tresor Mputu – 27-year-old
striker once described by Le Roy as the next Samuel Eto’o, Mputu has an
excellent scoring record for the Leopards, with 13 in 22 starts.
Currently leading the line for TP Mazembe in his native country, he has
been linked with a possible move to Celtic during one of the transfer
windows this year.

British based players: Youssouf Mulumbu
(West Bromwich Albion, Midfielder, 12 caps); Gabriel Zakuani
(Peterborough United, defender, one cap)

Games Mulumbu will miss: January 19 –
Aston Villa (H); January 30 – Everton (A); February 3 – Tottenham
Hotspur (H); February 11 – Liverpool (A)

Squad: Goalkeepers: Robert Kidiaba (TP Mazembe), Bakala Landu (MK Etancheite), Parfait Mandanda (Charleroi)

Defenders: Jean Kasusula (Mazembe),
Larrys Mabiala (Karabukspor), Chancel Mbemba (Anderlecht), Cedric
Mongongu (Evian), Issama Mpeko (Vita Club), Landry Mulemo (Kortrijk),
Gabriel Zakuani (Peterborough)

Midfielders: Dioko Kaluyituka
(Al-Kharitiyath), Deo Kanda (Mazembe), Cedric Makiadi (Freiburg), Zola
Matumona (Mons-Bergen), Tresor Mputu (Mazembe), Youssouf Mulumbu (West
Bromwich Albion)

Strikers: Patou Kabangu (Mazembe), Yves
Diba (Al-Raed), Domi Kumbela (Eintracht Brunswick), Tresor LuaLua Lomana
(Karabukspor), Manzia Budje (Shark), Dieumerci Mbokani (Anderlecht),
Luvumbu Nzinga (Rojolu)

Star Player: Dieumerci Mbokani – The
pressure to deliver goals will fall largely on Anderlecht striker
Mbokani, who is adept at playing the orthodox striking role or cutting
in from the flanks. He has an impressive record in the
Belgium, with 28 goals in 40 league games.

Best foot forward: Gyan (right) will lead the Black Stars in South Africa

Best foot forward: Gyan (right) will lead the Black Stars in South Africa

Mali

Nickname: The Eagles

FIFA Ranking: 25

Colours: Yellow, red and green

Best Cup of Nations: Runners-up 1972

Manager: Patrice Carteron – Sunderland
fans will remember Carteron as the loanee who scored in the Tyne Wear
derby of April 2001.

Captain: Seydou Keita – The most
experienced head in the Mali dressing room. He was, of course, at
Barcelona for four years up to last summer, winning three La Liga titles
and two European Cups.

British based players: Samba Diakite
(Queen Park Rangers, midfielder, five caps); Modibo Maiga (West Ham
United, striker, 36 caps and seven goals)

Games Diakite will miss: January 19 –
West Ham (A); January 26 – Milton Keynes Dons (H, FA Cup fourth round);
January 29 – Manchester City (H); February 2 – Norwich City (H);
February 9 – Swansea City (A)

Games Maiga will miss: January 16 –
Manchester United (A, FA Cup third round replay); January 19 – Queens
Park Rangers (H); January 23 – Arsenal (A); January 26 – Possible Fulham
(H, FA Cup fourth round); February 2 – Swansea City (H); February 10 –
Aston Villa (A)

Squad: Goalkeepers: Soumbeyla Diakite (Stade Malien), Mamadou Samassa (Guingamp), Aly Yirango (Djoliba)

Defenders: Adama Coulibaly (Auxerre),
Idrissa Coulibaly (Lekihwiya), Ousmane Coulibaly (Brest), Salif
Coulibaly (Djoliba), Fousseyni Diawara (Ajaccio), Mahamadou Ndiaye
(Vitoria Guimaraes), Adama Tamboura (Randers), Molla Wague (Caen)

Midfielders: Samba Diakite (QPR), Cheick
Fantamady Diarra (Rennes), Sigamary Diarra (Ajaccio), Seydou Keita
(Aerbin Dalian), Mohamed Lamine Sissoko (Paris Saint Germain), Samba Sow
(Lens), Kalilou Traore (Sochaux), Mahamane Traore (Nice), Sambou
Yatabare (Bastia)

Strikers: Cheick Tidiane Diabate (Bordeaux), Modibo Maiga (West Ham), Mamadou Samassa (Chievo)

Star Player: Modibo Maiga – Maiga can be a bit
hit and miss, as Hammers fans have found at times and he has five goals
for his country.

Niger

Nickname: Gazelles

FIFA Ranking: 105

Colours: White

Best Cup of Nations: Round one, 2012

Manager: Gernot Rohr – Rohr created the
vacancy for himself when, managing Gabon at last year’s Africa Cup of
Nations, they beat Niger 2-0 in the group stages and signalled the
beginning of the end for Niger’s French boss Rolland Courbis.

So, the
59-year-old German was brought in and he successfully booked his place
in another AFCON with a win over Guinea.

Captain: Moussa Maazou – National
captain at just 24, striker Maazou has seven goals for his country so
far and will be expected to increase that at the Cup of Nations.

He was
tipped for a career in Europe when he arrived at Lokeren in 2008 and
then CSKA Moscow the following year.

However, he failed to settle and,
following a succession of loan spells, decided to return to Africa with
Tunisian side Etoile du Sahel last year.

Squad: Goalkeepers: Moussa Alzouma (Garde Nationale), Daouda Kassaly (Chippa Utd), Saminou Rabo (Sahel)

Defenders: Ismael Alassane, Kader Amadou
and Mohamed Soumaila (Olympic), Mohamed Bachar and Luky James (AS
Douane), Mohammed Chikoto (Marsa), Koffi Dankowa (Zarzis), Kourouma
Fatogoma (Chabab)

Midfielders: Issoufou Boubacar
(clubless), Karim Konate (clubless), Issiakou Koudize (Garde Nationale),
Idrissa Laouali (Mangasport), Amadou Mountari (Le Mans), Williams
N’Gonou (LB 07), Souleymane Sakou (Olympic), Babacar Talatou (AmaZulu)

Strikers: Kamilou Daouda (Saoura), Issoufou Dante (Wydad Fes), Moussa Maazou (Etoile Sahel), Modibo Sidib (clubless)

Star Player: Daouda Kamilou –
Algerian-based striker likely to carry Niger’s strongest attacking
threat.

The 25-year-old has three goals for his country and currently
plays for Algerian top division side JS Saoura.

GROUP B FIXTURES

Sunday January 20 – Port Elizabeth
Ghana v DR Congo (3pm) – British Eurosport
Mali v Niger (6pm) – ITV4 and British Eurosport

Thursday January 24 – Port Elizabeth
Ghana v Mali (3pm) – British Eurosport
Niger v DR Congo (6pm) – ITV4 and British Eurosport

Monday January 28 – Port Elizabeth
Ghana v Niger (5pm) – ITV4 (tbc) and British Eurosport

Monday January 28 – Durban
DR Congo v Mali (5pm) – British Eurosport 2

Danny Mills' verdict

It’s hard to
look beyond Ghana for this group.

They performed brilliantly in the 2010
World Cup but like some of the other teams in the tournament with just
star man, they will be looking to Asamoah Gyan to deliver.

If he does,
then it is possible they could challenge for the trophy.

He didn’t have
the best of times in the Premier League, but seems to be getting some
form back now.

Play it Coul: The Auxerre defedner (right) will eb in action for Mali

Play it Coul: The Auxerre defedner (right) will eb in action for Mali

GROUP C

Nigeria

Nickname: Super Eagles

FIFA Ranking: 52

Colours: All-Green

Best Cup of Nations: Winners, 1980 and 1994

Manager: Stephen Keshi – A Nigerian
veteran of 64 caps, former defender Keshi picked up the Super Eagles at
their lowest ebb – when they failed to qualify for the Cup of Nations a
year ago, for the first time in 26 years. There were no such problems
this time, with Nigeria easily beating Liberia 8-3 on aggregate. Keshi
has previously managed two other teams in this tournament – Mali and
Togo.

Captain: Joseph Yobo – The centre back,
formerly of Everton, has seen it all during an international career
spanning 12 years and 89 caps. He assumed the captaincy before the 2010
World Cup finals, which were his second tournament following the 2002
finals in Japan and South Korea. Now 32, Yobo plays for Fenerbahce in
Turkey.

British based players: Mikel John Obi
(Chelsea, midfielder, 38 caps and three goals); Victor Moses (Chelsea,
striker, six caps and two goals)

Games Moses and Mikel will miss: January
16 – Southampton (H); January 20 – Arsenal (H); January 23 – Swansea
City (A, League Cup semi-final, second leg); January 27 – Brentford (A,
FA Cup fourth round); January 30 – Reading (A); February 2 – Newcastle
United (A); February 9 – Wigan Athletic (H)

Squad: Goalkeepers: Chigozie Agbim (Enugu Rangers), Austin Ejide (Hapoel Be’er Sheba), Vincent Enyeama (Maccabi Tel Aviv)

Defenders: Efe Ambrose (Celtic),
Elderson Echiejile (Braga), Azubuike Egwuekwe (Warri Wolves), Kenneth
Omeruo (ADO Den Haag), Godfrey Oboabona (Sunshine Stars), Juwon Oshaniwa
(Ashdod), Joseph Yobo (Fenerbahce)

Midfielders: Reuben Gabriel (Kano
Pillars), Nosa Igiebor (Real Betis), John Obi Mikel (Chelsea), Obiora
Nwankwo (Calcio Padova), Fegor Ogude (Valerenga), Ogenyi Onazi (Lazio)

Strikers: Sunday Mba and Ejike Uzoenyi
(Enugu), Emmanuel Emenike (Spartak Moscow), Brown Ideye (Dynamo Kyiv),
Victor Moses (Chelsea), Ahmed Musa (CSKA Moscow), Ikechukwu Uche
(Villarreal)

Star Player: John Obi Mikel – The
25-year-old has achieved pretty much
everything in the club game and now is his opportunity to add
international honours too.

Has three goals in his
38 appearances – one more than he has in 263 games for Chelsea!

Zambia

Nickname: The Copper Bullets

FIFA Ranking: 34

Colours: Orange and green

Best Cup of Nations: Winners, 2012

Manager: Herve Renard – A national hero
after leading the team to Africa Cup of Nations victory last time out,
beating fancied Senegal, Ghana and the ivory Coast along the way. He
worked with the DR Congo coach Claude Le Roy – his mentor in the game –
to save Cambridge United from the drop in a short spell back in 2004.

Frenchman Renard also managed the Zambian team between 2008 and 2010.

Captain: Christopher Katongo – An
inspiration in the playmaker role during their triumph last year,
Katongo is regarded as a powerful workhorse of a player. He was voted
BBC African Footballer of the Year in 2012 in appreciation of his role
in Zambia’s historic win.

He plays out in China for Henan Construction
and has 68 caps to his credit.

British based players: Emmanuel Mayuka (Southampton, striker, 40 caps and ten goals)

Games Mayuka will miss: January 16 –
Chelsea (A); January 21 – Everton (H); January 30 – Manchester United
(H); February 2 – Wigan Athletic (A); February 9 – Manchester City (H)

Squad: Goalkeepers: Daniel Munyau (Red Arrows), Kennedy Mweene (Free State Stars), Joshua Titima (Power Dynamos)
Defenders: Hichani Himoonde, Francis
Kasonde and Stoppila Sunzu (TP Mazembe), Emmanuel Mbola (Porto), Joseph
Musonda (Golden Arrows), Davies Nkausu (SuperSport Utd)

Midfielders: Isaac Chansa and
Christopher Katongo (Henan Jianje), Rainford Kalaba and Nathan Sinkala
(Mazembe), Noah Chivuta (Free State Stars), Felix Katongo (Petro
Atletico), Chisamba Lungu (Ural Oblast), Mukuka Mulenga (Power Dynamos),
William Njobvu (Hapoel Beer Sheba)

Strikers: James Chamanga (Liaojing
Whowin), Emmanuel Mayuka (Southampton), Collins Mbesuma (Orlando
Pirates), Jacob Mulenga (Utrecht), Jonas Sakuwaha (Al Merreikh)

Star Player: Emmanuel Mayuka – The
winner of the Cup of Nations Golden Boot last year after scoring three
goals, including the winner against Ghana in the semi-finals.

These
performances were part of Southampton’s thinking when they acquired him
from Young Boys in August, but he has only started one game for the
Saints so far. Despite being only 22, he has accumulated 38 caps for
Zambia, scoring ten goals.

Out of Africa: Moses is swapping duties at Stamford Bridge potentially for three weeks

Out of Africa: Moses is swapping duties at Stamford Bridge potentially for three weeks

Ethiopia

Nickname: Walya Antelopes or Black Lions

FIFA Ranking: 110

Colours: Yellow and green stripes

Best Cup of Nations: Winners, 1962

Manager: Sewnet Bishaw – In charge of
the national team for a second spell, Bishaw has already exceeded
expectations by qualifying for the finals for the first time since they
won the competition in 1962.

They beat Sudan on away goals following a
5-5 aggregate scoreline.

Captain: Degu Debebe – The majority of
the Ethiopian players play in their own domestic league and 28-year-old
centre-back Debebe is one, representing Saint-George.

He is believed to
have in the region of 40 international caps, putting him well on course
to be the country’s most capped player.

Squad: Goalkeepers: Sisay Bancha (Dedebit), Zerihun Tadele (St George), Jemal Tassew (Coffee)

Defenders: Abebaw Butako, Degu Debebe,
Biadgelegn Elias and Alula Girma (St George), Berhanu Bogale, Aynalem
Hailu and Seyoum Tesfaye (Dedebit)

Midfielders: Behailu Assefa, Addis
Hintsa and Minyahil Teshome (Dedebit), Shimeles Bekele and Yared Zinabu
(St George), Dawit Estifanos (Coffee), Asrat Megersa (EEPCO), Yusuf
Saleh (Syrianska)

Strikers: Adane Girma and Oumed Ukuri
(St George), Fuad Ibrahim (Minnesota Stars), Getaneh Kebede (Dedebit),
Saladin Said (Wadi Degla)

Star Player: Adana Girma – A teammate of
Debebe at Saint-George, forward Girma will have to bring his scoring
boots to guide Ethiopia out of the group.

He scored in both legs of the
qualification play-off with Sudan and has seven for his country overall.

Burkina Faso

Nickname: The Stallions

FIFA Ranking: 89

Colours: All-green

Best Cup of Nations: Fourth place, 1998

Manager: Paul Put – The Belgian replaced
Paulo Duarte in March last year after a grim performance at the last
Cup of Nations which saw Burkina Faso lose all three of their group
games. Put was in charge of Gambia at the time and made the switch to
guide Burkina Faso narrowly past the Central African Republic in the
qualifiers.

Captain: Moumouni Dagano – Leading from
the front is Dagano, who scored 12 goals in the World CUp 2010 qualifiers, making him the joint-highest worldwide scorer.
He recently signed for Qatari club Al-Sailiya.

Squad: Goalkeepers: Daouda Diakite (Lierse), Germain Sanou (St Etienne), Abdoulaye Soulama (Asante Kotoko)

Defenders: Mohamed Koffi (Petrojet),
Bakary Kone (Lyon), Paul Koulibaly (Dynamo Bucharest), Mady
Panandetiguiri (Antwerp), Henri Traore (Ashanti Gold)

Midfielders: Charles Kabore (Marseille),
Djakaridja Kone (Evian), Prejuce Nacoulma (Gornik Zabrze), Issouf
Ouattara (Chernomorets Burgas), Jonathan Pitroipa (Rennes), Aly Rabo (Al
Shorta), Florent Rouamba (Sheriff Tiraspol), Wilfried Sanou (Kyoto
Sanga), Abdou Razack Traore (Lechia Gdansk), Alain Traore (Lorient)

Strikers: Wilfried Dah and Pierre
Koulibaly (Al Dhaid Sharjah), Wilfried Balima (Sheriff Tiraspol),
Aristide Bance (Augsburg), Moumouni Dagano (Al Siliya)

Star Player: Alain Traore – The older
brother of Chelsea academy product Bertrand, the Lorient striker will be
trying to trouble a few defenders in the tournament. He is based in
France and was previously with Auxerre before switching to his current
club when they were relegated in 2012.

GROUP C FIXTURES

Monday January 21 – Nelspruit
Zambia v Ethiopia (3pm) – British Eurosport
Nigeria v Burkina Faso (6pm) – ITV4 and British Eurosport

Friday January 25 – Nelspruit
Zambia v Nigeria (3pm) – British Eurosport
Burkina Faso v Ethiopia (6pm) – ITV4 and British Eurosport

Tuesday January 29 – Nelspruit
Zambia v Burkina Faso (5pm) – ITV4 (tbc) and British Eurosport

Tuesday January 29 – Rustenburg
Ethiopia v Nigeria (5pm) – British Eurosport 2

Danny Mills' verdict

Given
the weight of fixtures at the moment, Rafa Benitez at Chelsea would not
have been too happy to see Mikel and Moses go off to the competition.

There’s no Essien this time but Nigeria will be very strong in this
group.

Though the two Chelsea players will be missed, their desire to
play in the Cup of Nations and try to reward the home fans who
practically hero worship them is a distinct contrast to some of the
attitudes of international players in England and Europe.

Attention to detail: Workers at Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg make the final checks

Attention to detail: Workers at Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg make the final checks

GROUP D

Ivory Coast

Nickname: The Elephants

FIFA Ranking: 14 Colours: All-orange

Best Cup of Nations: Winners, 1992

Manager: Sabri Lamouchi – A young manager at 41, Lamouchi was a surprise appointment given he only retired from playing three years earlier. His career took his to Auxerre, Monaco, Parma, Inter Milan and Marseille among more exotic destinations. He also represented the French national team on 12 occasions. The decision to appoint him was controversial, with many fans wanting a more experienced replacement for Francois Zahoui. But he is starting to win them over by guiding the Ivory Coast through a volatile play-off with Senegal, which descended into a riot.

Captain: Didier Drogba – Arguably the most recognisable player in the entire tournament, Drogba has achieved pretty much everything in the domestic game but this may be his last chance to win the Cup of Nations. Having quit Chelsea on a high after winning the Champions League, Drogba joined Shanghai Shenhua in China, but will be grateful for some action since their league ended a few months ago. His scoring record for Ivory Coast excellent – 59 in 90.

British based players: Arouna Kone (Wigan Athletic, striker, 37 caps and nine goals); Kolo Toure (Manchester City, defender, 102 caps and six goals); Chieck Tiote (Newcastle United, midfielder, 33 caps); Gervinho (Arsenal, striker, 42 caps and nine goals); Abdul Razak (Manchester City, midfielder, two caps); Yaya Toure (Manchester City, midfielder, 71 caps and ten goals)

Star attraction: Former Chelsea striker Didier is heading to South Africa

Games Kone will miss: January 19 – Sunderland (H); January 26 – Macclesfield Town (A, FA Cup fourth round); January 29 – Stoke City (A); February 2 – Southampton (H); February 9 – Chelsea (A)

Games the Toure brothers and Razak will miss: January 19 – Fulham (H); January 26 – Stoke City (A, FA Cup fourth round); January 29 – Queens Park Rangers (A); February 3 – Liverpool (H); February 9 – Southampton (A)

Games Tiote will miss: January 19 – Reading (H); January 29 – Aston Villa (A); February 2 – Chelsea (H); February 9 – Tottenham Hotspur (A)

Games Gervinho will miss: January 16 – Swansea City (H, FA Cup third round replay); January 20 – Chelsea (A); January 23 – West Ham United (H); January 30 – Liverpool (H); February 2 – Stoke City (H); February 9 – Sunderland (A)

Squad: Goalkeepers: Boubacar Barry (Lokeren), Daniel Yeboah (Dijon), Ali Badra Sangare (Ivoire Academie)

Defenders: Souleymane Bamba (Trazbonspor), Arthur Boka (Stuttgart), Emmanuel Eboue (Galatasaray), Igor Lolo (Kuban Krasnodar), Siaka Tiene (PSG), Kolo Toure (Manchester City), Ismael Traore (Brest/FRA)

Midfielders: Max Gradel (Saint-Etienne), Didier Ya Konan (Hanover), Abdul Razak (Manchester City), Romaric Ndri Koffi (Real Zaragoza), Cheick Tiote (Newcastle), Yaya Toure (Manchester City), Didier Zokora (Trazbonspor)

Strikers: Wilfried Bony (Vitesse Arnhem), Didier Drogba (Shanghai Shenhua), Gervinho (Arsenal), Salomon Kalou (Lille), Arouna Kone (Wigan), Lacina Traore (Anzhi Makhachkala)

Star Player: Yaya Toure – In a squad full of household names, Yaya Toure stands out as the bedrock of a very talented and well-fancied side. Strong, bustling and tireless, Yaya – a veteran of 72 caps – will have an instrumental role to play if the country’s 'Golden Generation' are to fulfill their potential.


Warm welcome: The Ivory Coast stars were mobbed when they touched down

Warm welcome: The Ivory Coast stars were mobbed when they touched down

Tunisia

Nickname: The Eagles of Carthage

FIFA Ranking: 45

Colours: All-white

Best Cup of Nations: Winners, 2004

Manager: Sami Trabelsi – Another young boss at 44, but one who has vast experience of the Tunisian set-up having won 52 caps for them between 1994 and 2001. This is a country that gets through managers like loose change, so Trabelsi, at the helm for a whole two years, probably needs to deliver a respectable run in this tournament to keep his employment.

Captain: Aymen Mathlouthi – 28-year-old goalkeeper for Tunisian side Etoile du Sahel who is regarded as one of the best on the continent. Has 38 caps for his country.

Squad: Goalkeepers: Moez Ben Cherifia (Esperance), Aymen Mathlouthi (Etoile Sahel), Farouk Ben Mustapha (CA Bizertin)

Defenders: Khalil Chammam and Walid Hichri (Esperance), Aymen Abdennour (Toulouse), Anis Boussaidi (Tavria Simferopol), Chamseddine Dhaouadi (Etoile), Fateh Gharbi (CS Sfaxien), Bilel Ifa (Club Africain)

Midfielders: Youssef Msakni, Khaled Mouelhi and Mejdi Traoui (Esperance), Haten Baratli (Club Africain), Oussama Darragi (Sion), Chadi Hammami (Kuwait SC), Wissem Yahia (Mersin Idman Yurdu)

Strikers: Zouheir Dhaouadi (clubless), Hamdi Harbaoui (Lokeren), Issam Jomaa (Kuwait SC), Wahbi Khazri (Bastia), Saber Khlifa (Evian), Fakreddine Ben Youssef (Sfaxien)

Star Player: Issam Jemaa – Striker who has been involved with the national side since 2005 and will feature in his third Africa Cup of Nations this time round. Didn’t have the best time at Auxerre towards the end of his time in French football but has rediscovered his form in Kuwait and will be hoping to add to his 34 international goals in 70 games.

Algeria

Nickname(s): Fennec Foxes, Desert Warriors

FIFA Ranking: 19

Colours: All-white

Best Cup of Nations: Winners, 1990

Manager: Vahid Halilhodzic – Veteran
Bosnian manager who has seen and done it all in his managerial career
and beat off some strong contenders when appointed Algerian coach in
June 2011.

He enjoyed success previously with the Ivory Coast, taking
them to the World Cup in South Africa but suffering the ignominy of the
sack four months before the tournament.

Captain: Medhi Lacen – The scourge of
England during that humiliating goalless draw at the 2010 World Cup,
Lacen has become a staple of the Algerian midfield. He plays in Spain
for Getafe, having previously turned out for Racing Santander and
Alaves.

British based players: Adlene Guedioura (Nottingham Forest, midfielder, 18 caps and one goal)

Squad: Goalkeepers: Azzeddine Doukha (Harrach), Rais Mbolhi (Krylia Sovetov), Cedric Si Mohammed (Bejaia)

Defenders: Essad Belkalem and Ali Rial
(JS Kabylie), Carl Medjani and Mehdi Mostefa (Ajaccio), Liassine
Cadamuro (Real Sociedad), Faouzi Ghoulam (Saint-Etienne), Rafik Halliche
(Academica), Djamel Mesbah (AC Milan)

Midfielders: Hameur Bouazza (Racing
Santander), Ryad Boudebouz (Sochaux), Sofiane Feghouli (Valencia),
Adlene Guedioura (Nottingham Forest), Foued Kadir (Marseille), Medhi
Lacen (Getafe), Khaled Lemmouchia (Club Africain), Saad Tedjar (USMA)

Strikers: Mohamed Aoudia (Entente Setif), Yacine Bezzaz (CS Constantine), Islam Slimani (Belouizdad), Hilal Soudani (Guimares)

Star Player: Sofiane Feghouli –
23-year-old attacking midfielder who plays for Valencia in Spain and who
will be vital in supplying ammunition to the strikers.

Feghouli
represented France at youth level but switched allegiance and has since
won nine caps, scoring twice.

Togo

Nickname: The Sparrow Hawks

FIFA Ranking: 71

Colours: All-yellow

Best Cup of Nations: First round, 1972, 1984, 1998, 2000, 2002 and 2006

Manager: Didier Six – Remembered as the
left-sided player from the all-conquering French side of the early
eighties, Six won the European Championships in 1984 and played in the
1978 and 1982 World Cups. Has had two managerial posts – 25 years apart:
Strasbourg briefly in 1986 and then Togo from 2011 to present.

Captain: Emmanuel Adebayor – There
shouldn’t be much I need to add about this man, only that, following
retirement and on-off negotiations, the whole of Togo will be delighted
to welcome their talisman back to an international tournament. With 26
goals in his 54 Togo appearances, much will depend on the Spurs
frontman.

British based players: Emmanuel Adebayor (Tottenham Hotspur, striker, 54 caps and 26 goals)

Games Adebayor will miss: January 20 –
Manchester United (H); January 27 – Leeds United (A, FA Cup fourth
round); January 30 – Norwich City (A); February 3 – West Bromwich Albion
(A); February 9 – Newcastle United (H)

Squad: Goalkeepers: Mawugbe Atsou (Maranatha), Baba Tchagouni (Dijon)

Defenders: Serge Akakpo (Zilina), Sadat
Ouro-Akoriko (Free State Stars), Vincent Bossou (Navibank), Djene
Dakonam (Coton Sport), Donou Kokou (Maranatha), Abdoul-Gafar Mamah
(Dacia), Senah Mango (Marseille), Dare Nibombe (Boussou Dur Borinage)

Midfielders: Kodjo Ametepe (Maranatha),
Komlan Amewou (Nimes), Sapol Mani (Batna), Moustapha Salifou (clubless),
Prince Segbefia (Auxerre), Dove Wome (Free State Stars)

Strikers: Kalen Damessi (Lille), Thomas
Dossevi (Chonburi), Serge Gakpe (Nantes), Fessou Placa (Agaza), Emmanuel
Adebayor (Tottenham)

Star Player: Has to be Adebayor as well…

GROUP D FIXTURES

Tuesday January 22 – Rustenburg
Ivory Coast v Togo (3pm) – British Eurosport
Tunisia v Algeria (6pm) – ITV4 and British Eurosport

Saturday January 26 – Rustenburg
Ivory Coast v Tunisia (3pm) – British Eurosport
Algeria v Togo (6pm) – ITV4 and British Eurosport

Wednesday January 30 – Rustenburg
Ivory Coast v Algeria (5pm) – ITV4 (tbc) and British Eurosport

Wednesday January 30 – Nelspruit
Togo v Tunisia (5pm) – British Eurosport 2

Danny Mills' verdict

The Ivory Coast
are undoubtedly the best team in the tournament and are the obvious
favourites.

They have a squad littered with big names and talented
players, while many of them, including Drogba, have phenomenal
experience.

They should play at a level above all others but they have
sometimes struggled against North African teams, so they won’t like to
see not one, but two in their group.

Their main enemy, however, is their
own complacency because the quality is clearly there.

Let the action begin! South Africa is ready to host the showpiece event

Let the action begin! South Africa is ready to host the showpiece event

KNOCKOUT FIXTURES

Quarter-final

1. Saturday February 2 – Port Elizabeth
Group B winners v Group A runners-up (3pm) – ITV4 and British Eurosport

2. Saturday February 2 – Durban
Group A winners v Group B runners-up (6.30pm) – ITV4 and British Eurosport

3. Sunday February 3 – Rustenburg
Group D winners v Group C runners-up (3pm) – ITV4 and British Eurosport

4. Sunday February 3 – Nelspruit
Group C winners v Group D runners-up (6.30pm) – ITV4 and British Eurosport

Semi-final

1. Wednesday February 6 – Durban
Winner QF2 v Winner QF3 (3pm) – ITV4 and British Eurosport

2. Wednesday February 6 – Nelspruit
Winner QF4 v Winner QF1 (6.30pm) – ITV4 and British Eurosport

Third Place Play-off

Saturday February 9 – Port Elizabeth
Loser SF1 v Loser SF2 (6pm) – ITV4 and British Eurosport

Final

Sunday February 10 – Johannesburg
Winner SF1 v Winner SF2 (6pm) – ITV4 and British Eurosport

PREVIOUS WINNERS

1957 (Sudan) Egypt 4 Ethiopia 0
1959 (Egypt) Egypt 2 Sudan 1
1962 (Ethiopia) Ethiopia 4 Egypt 2
1963 (Ghana) Ghana 3 Sudan 0
1965 (Tunisia) Ghana 3 Tunisia 2
1968 (Ethiopia) DR Congo 1 Ghana 0
1970 (Sudan) Sudan 1 Ghana 0
1972 (Cameroon) Congo 1 Mali 0
1974 (Egypt) Zaire 2 Zambia 0
1976 (Ethiopia) Morocco (Group stage format)
1978 (Ghana) Ghana 2 Uganda 0
1980 (Nigeria) Nigeria 3 Algeria 0
1982 (Libya) Ghana 1 Libya 1 (Ghana won 7-6 on penalties)
1984 (Ivory Coast) Cameroon 3 Nigeria 1
1986 (Egypt) Egypt 0 Cameroon 0 (Egypt won 5-4 on penalties)
1988 (Morocco) Cameroon 1 Nigeria 0
1990 (Algeria) Algeria 1 Nigeria 0
1992 (Senegal) Ivory Coast 0 Ghana 0 (Ivory Coast won 11-10 on penalties)
1994 (Tunisia) Nigeria 2 Zambia 1
1996 (South Africa) South Africa 2 Tunisia 0
1998 (Burkina Faso) Egypt 2 South Africa 0
2000 (Ghana and Nigeria) Cameroon 2 Nigeria 2 (Cameroon won 4-3 on penalties)
2002 (Mali) Cameroon 0 Senegal 0 (Cameroon won 3-2 on penalties)
2004 (Tunisia) Tunisia 2 Morocco 1
2006 (Egypt) Egypt 0 Ivory Coast 0 (Egypt won 3-2 on penalties)
2008 (Ghana) Egypt 1 Cameroon 0
2010 (Angola) Egypt 1 Ghana 0
2012 (Gabon and Equatorial Guinea) Zambia 0 Ivory Coast 0 (Zambia won 8-7 on penalties)

VENUES

Johannesburg National Stadium (94,700) Kaizer Chiefs and South Africa. Hosted the 2010 World Cup final between Holland and Spain

Durban Moses Mabhida Stadium (54,000) AmaZulu

Port Elizabeth Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium (48,000)

Nelspruit Mbombela Stadium (41,000)

Rustenburg Bafokeng Stadium (42,000) Platinum Stars and Leopards

Martin Keown says that teams are taking the FA Cup seriously again

Martin Keown: New trend: taking the FA Cup seriously… apart from Cardiff

By
Martin Keown

PUBLISHED:

23:55 GMT, 6 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

00:22 GMT, 7 January 2013

It was nice to see a lot of Premier League teams taking the FA Cup seriously, including the champions Manchester City.

Outside the Premier League, though, Malky Mackay made 11 changes to his Cardiff side and it backfired, with Macclesfield knocking them out. Yet Cardiff might not mind.

The Championship leaders have been top before, only to fade — they want promotion this time. So maybe the sacrifice of going out of the Cup is bearable.

Cardiff's chopping and changing caused their downfall

Knocked out: Cardiff's chopping and changing caused their downfall

Brighton are bright

A look at the quality in Brighton’s line-up means their win over Newcastle should not have been such a surprise. They have Wayne Bridge, Andrea Orlandi, who was at Swansea, and David Lopez, who has played more than 100 games for Athletic Bilbao.

They are talented. The Newcastle players wanted to come in and make a mark. Instead, they have just been part of a disastrous result.

Andrea Orlandi's finish stole the show against Newcastle

Spanish style: Andrea Orlandi's finish stole the show against Newcastle

Dickov kops good news

What a weekend for Paul Dickov. When his backroom staff were put on gardening leave it sent out the message that he would likely be next with the team struggling near the bottom of League One.

But his squad responded by posting one of the most impressive wins of the weekend away at Nottingham Forest. It went slightly unnoticed, but Dickov will now be relishing the visit of Liverpool.

Dickov's Oldham stunned Alex McLeish and his new club Nottingham Forest

what a peformance! Dickov's Oldham stunned Alex McLeish and his new club Nottingham Forest

Ryan passes ever test

Ryan Giggs has been excellent of late and his pass to set up the Manchester United equaliser for Robin van Persie was sublime.

It probably secured him another year at the club. Giggs has been playing back out wide again recently. He doesn’t try to beat people for fun like he used to, he just hits fantastic diagonal balls. He doesn’t expect too much of himself.

Giggs once again proved his worth setting up Robin Van Persie for United's equaliser

Old age no barrier: Giggs once again proved his worth setting up Robin Van Persie for United's equaliser

A right Royals booster

Reading’s win at Crawley could give them the confidence they need to kickstart their Premier League campaign. It could have all gone wrong for Brian McDermott after his side fell behind so early, but they have good spirit at that club and stayed calm.

Going out could have been a major embarrassment and impacted on their chances of survival but they just got on with it and will fancy their chances of reaching the fifth round.

Reading went behind after just two minutes to Crawley but knuckled down to win

Keeping the faith: Reading went behind after just two minutes to Crawley but knuckled down to win

Gibbs proves his class

I hope Kieran Gibbs got home and watched a re-run of his performance against Swansea. If he did, Gibbs would see just how well he played. The left back is such a good player and can be even better if he continues to perform at this level.

He took the game to Swansea, got a deserved goal, and you can see there is so much more to come from him. In the past he has seemed a little apologetic to be in an Arsenal shirt. He shouldn’t feel like that.

Kieran Gibbs put himself back in the mind of Roy Hodgson

England ambitions: Kieran Gibbs put himself back in the mind of Roy Hodgson

FA Youth Cup fourth-round draw: Chelsea to play Charlton

FA Youth Cup fourth-round draw: Holders Chelsea face Charlton

|

UPDATED:

12:50 GMT, 14 December 2012

Holders Chelsea face a tough trip to London rivals Charlton in the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup.

The Blues beat Colchester United 3-2 to kick-start their defence last week while Charlton were impressive 1-0 winners at Molineux, where they eliminated Wolves on Wednesday.

Manchester City, meanwhile, will be hoping to avoid an upset when they host near North-West neighbours Burnley.

The Clarets knocked out Manchester United in the third round and will be hoping to book their place in the fifth round with victory at Ewen Fields next month.

Reward: Charlton will take on Chelsea in the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup

Reward: Charlton will take on Chelsea in the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup

Three-times winners West Ham could take on arch-rivals Tottenham after beating Aldershot 3-1 in the third round. Spurs must get past Cheltenham Town first, however.

There could be another potential London derby in store as Arsenal await either Fulham or Middlesbrough.

Elsewhere, a trip to Bradford is the incentive for Histon or Liverpool, Leeds play Burton, Norwich play Millwall and Reading entertain Bolton.

FA YOUTH CUP FOURTH-ROUND DRAW

Crystal Palace or Port Vale v Everton
Norwich City v Millwall
Oxford United or Barnsley v Stevenage
Reading v Bolton Wanderers
Derby County v Ipswich Town
West Ham United v Cheltenham Town or Tottenham Hotspur
Stoke City v Huddersfield Town
Arsenal v Fulham or Middlesbrough
Manchester City v Burnley
Bradford City or Histon v Liverpool
Charlton Athletic v Chelsea
Northampton Town v Hull City or Swansea City
Birmingham City v Coventry City or Bristol Rovers
Leicester City v Peterborough United or Aston Villa
Leeds United v Burton Albion
Nottingham Forest v Rochdale or Crewe Alexandra

All ties to be played by Saturday, January 19

Fernando Llorente admits Premier League attraction as Manchester City and Tottenham wait

Llorente gives hope to Man City and Spurs as Spain striker admits Premier League appeals

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UPDATED:

10:16 GMT, 12 December 2012

Fernando Llorente has opened up on his future and admitted a move to Tottenham or Manchester City could be on his radar.

Juventus remain strong favourites to win the battle for the Athletic Bilbao frontrunner, but he was adamant he has yet to make a decision on his next club.

Out of contract at the end of the season, Llorente confirmed he was aware of interest from at least two of the Barclays Premier League's leading clubs and insisted playing in England was a prospect he was ready to consider.

On alert: Manchester City and Spurs want Athletic Bilbao striker Fernando Llorente

On alert: Manchester City and Spurs want Athletic Bilbao striker Fernando Llorente

'I am approaching the date when I can think about signing for another club,' he told Sky Sports.

'I am happy to let my brother and representatives deal with that, so I can concentrate on playing for Athletic.

'But I really like the Premier League in England, and I have already mentioned more than once that it is a league that appeals to me.

'You never know. It could be a good option for me, but we will have to wait and see what happens.'

Italian job Serie A giants Juventus remain favourites to sign Llorente

Italian job Serie A giants Juventus remain favourites to sign Llorente

Despite what sounds like an encouraging message for Tottenham and City, who are both keen to sign him for a cut-price fee in next month's transfer window, Juventus remain confident they will add him to their ranks for nothing at the end of the season.

Much of the groundwork has already been done, after Llorente fell out with Athletic's coaching staff and made it clear he would not be signing another contract, and Juve's hierarchy believe an agreement is in place to take him to Turin in the summer.

NextGen series: Arsenal through to last 16

Arsenal progress through to NextGen last 16 after winning six goal thriller against Bilbao

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UPDATED:

00:30 GMT, 7 December 2012

Arsenal's youngsters put on a sublime display to win 4-2 against Athletic Bilbao on Thursday evening and advance through to the last 16 of the NextGen series.

In a must-win game for the hosts, the Gunners got off to the perfect start with Jon Toral heading home from close range to make it 1-0 after seven minutes. Athletic struck back almost immediately from the penalty spot through Ager Aqueche, who calmly slotted into the bottom corner.

Opener: Jon Toral (left) celebrates his first-half strike

Opener: Jon Toral (left) celebrates his first-half strike

NEXTGEN SERIES

Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham are also taking part in the competition. For a full review of the groups click here

Quickfire second-half goals from Zak
Ansah, Isaac Hayden and John Toral put Arsenal into a commanding lead
before Athletic grabbed a consolation goal late on.

Bilbao remain in second place in Group
6 with a game left to play against Olympiacos next week. Should they
avoid defeat against the Greeks they will advance through to the last 16
of the tournament as group winners.

Barcelona 5 Bilbao 1: Lionel Messi one short of Gerd Muller"s record after 11th double of season

Barcelona 5 Bilbao 1: Messi one short of Muller's record after 11th double of season

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UPDATED:

21:46 GMT, 1 December 2012

Lionel Messi scored twice Saturday as Barcelona made the best start in the history of the Spanish league on Saturday with a 5-1 home win over Athletic Bilbao.

The leader's 13 wins and a draw in the opening 14 rounds surpasses Madrid's 12 wins and two draws to begin the 1991-92 campaign.

Clinical: Lionel Messi scores his first goal

Clinical: Lionel Messi scores his first goal

Clinical: Lionel Messi scores his first goal

No stopping him: The goal was awarded to Messi despite the defender slicing the ball into his own net

Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona scores his team's second goal past Gorka Iraizoz

Messi's 11th double of the season leaves him one goal shy of Gerd Muller's record of 85 for club and country in one year, set in 1972.

Barcelona led 3-0 by halftime thanks to goals by Gerard Pique, Messi and Adriano. Cesc Fabregas and Messi scored after halftime.

Valencia sacked coach Mauricio Pellegrino after Saturday's 5-2 defeat at home to Real Sociedad left them languishing in 12th place in La Liga, club president Manuel Llorente said.

'We have been exchanging opinions, debating and we have taken the decision to sack Pellegrino,' Llorente was quoted as saying on the Spanish club's official Twitter feed.

Goal machine: Messi is just one short of equaling record

Goal machine: Messi is just one short of equaling record

Barcelona's Argentinian forward Lionel Messi

Barcelona's Argentinian forward Lionel Messi

Argentine Pellegrino, a former Valencia player, took over from Unai Emery at the end of last season and has guided the club into the last 16 of the Champions League.

They still have a chance to top Group F ahead of Bayern Munich depending on the results of next week's games.

However, a poor start to their domestic campaign and nine goals conceded in their last two La Liga outings was too much to take for Llorente and his board of directors.

Mauricio Pellegrino has been sacked as coach of Valencia, the club have confirmed on their Twitter feed.

Pellegrino only took up the reins in May, but Los Che – currently 11th in the Primera Division standings but just four points off a Champions League place – decided to dispense with his services after this evening's 5-2 defeat against Real Sociedad at the Mestalla.

'We have been exchanging views, and we made the decision to dismiss Mauricio Pellegrino,' president Manuel Llorente said.