Southern African News Features                                           SANF 09 No 01, January 2010
Southern Africa ready for Angola 2010
by Patson Phiri

Four southern African countries will raise the regional profile at the 2010 African Cup of Nations finals set for January 2010 -- Angola, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia.

Angola qualified for the finals as the host nation while the other three SADC countries booked their places through the qualifying rounds.

A total of 16 African countries will take part in the biennial tournament, which will be staged exactly five months before the 2010 Soccer World Cup finals in South Africa.

Only South Africa as the host will represent the SADC region at the 2010 World Cup tournament after other countries from the region failed to qualify for the global event.

Malawi, commonly known as the "Flames", won their place for Angola on the last day of qualification games despite losing away to Burkina Faso.

Their passage to the African Cup of Nations was sealed when the only other side, Guinea, who had a real chance of snatching the last spot to Angola, was beaten three-nil by an impressive Ivorian team.

The result meant that Malawi finished on third position with four points. The top three teams from the five groups qualified for Angola 2010.

Malawi’s qualification was greeted with joy in Blantyre and other cities as it is only the second time the country has qualified for the African tournament since its inauguration in 1956.

Malawi qualified together with Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast in a group where the latter also qualified for the World Cup finals in South Africa.

Mozambique’s "Black Mambas" sealed their place at the African finals with a win over Tunisia in front of a capacity crowd in Maputo.

Dario Monkeiro’s second-half goal secured Mozambique’s first appearance at the African Cup of Nations since 1986.

Mozambique together with Nigeria and Tunisia qualified for the African finals. From this group, Nigeria won the sole ticket to the World Cup finals.

The last southern African team to qualify for Angola is Zambia. Zambia secured its place on the last day after drawing with Rwanda.

Unlike most southern African countries, Zambia has taken part in most African Cup of Nations finals.

Zambia has been to the finals for a record 14 times. Egypt and Algeria join Zambia to the African cup with Algeria representing the continent at the World Cup finals.

The draw for the Africa Cup of Nations was held on 21 November in Luanda, pitting Angola against Mali, Algeria and Malawi.

Mozambique is in the same group as Benin, Egypt and Nigeria. Zambia has been drawn to face Cameroon, Gabon and Tunisia.

The top two teams in each of the four groups will qualify for the second stage.

Zambian coach Herve Renard expressed optimism that his team will do well at the tournament.

"We are not afraid of meeting any of the big teams at the Africa cup. We will take them just like any other team," Renard told SANF in an interview.

The African Cup of Nations has remained an influential tournament since its inauguration in 1956 when a meeting held in Lisbon between seven delegates resulted in the formation of the Confederation of African Football.

The initial tournament took place the following year in Khartoum, Sudan and has since then grown into one of Africa’s leading sporting events.

South Africa is the only southern African country to have won the African Cup of Nations when it hosted the finals in 1994. Angola is the second SADC country to host the finals.

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SANF is produced by the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC), which has monitored regional developments since 1985

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