Africa's hopefuls start Cup of Nations countdown

Africa's hopefuls start Cup of Nations countdown

Published Jan. 9, 2012 7:58 p.m. ET

Tunisia beat 10-man Sudan 3-0 in United Arab Emirates Monday as teams entered the final countdown to the African Cup of Nations, which is less than two weeks away.

Striker Saber Khlifa of French club Evian scored early in Sharjah and Zouheir Dhaoidi and FC Zurich's Amine Chermiti added second-half goals in 2004 African champion Tunisia's penultimate warmup match ahead of its Cup of Nations opener against regional rival Morocco.

Sudan had Ala Eldin Yousuf sent off with just under 20 minutes to go for a high, mistimed tackle on Dhaoidi at Sharjah Stadium.

African Cup co-host Gabon was held 0-0 at home by Burkina Faso in another friendly as the Burkinabes wait to see if they will even be at the continental championship. Burkina Faso's participation was being considered by the Court of Arbitration for Sport after it was accused of fielding an ineligible player in qualifying.


A decision by CAS is expected Tuesday after Namibia appealed to sport's highest court over the eligibility of Burkina Faso's Cameroon-born defender Herve Zengue. Namibia lost out on a place at the Cup of Nations to Burkina Faso in qualifiers and had two protests over Zengue turned down by continental governing body, the Confederation of African Football, before going to CAS.

The hopeful Namibian squad has remained together and kept training and will play Zambia in a friendly international in South Africa this weekend.

Meanwhile, favorites Ivory Coast and Ghana had set up training camps ahead of Wednesday's deadline for the naming of teams' final 23-man squads for the 16-team tournament, which kicks off Jan. 21.

Ghana has based itself in South Africa in the run-in to the event in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, while Ivory Coast will meet Tunisia in a friendly in Dubai on Friday and then play surprise qualifier Libya, also in U.A.E., early next week before heading to Equatorial Guinea.

Top-ranked Ivory Coast is in Group B with Sudan, Burkina Faso and Angola at the tournament.

Ayew brothers Andre and Jordan of France's Marseille joined up with Ghana's squad in Rustenburg, in north west South Africa, over the weekend ahead of the Black Stars' friendly with Bafana Bafana, who haven't qualified, on Sunday.

Asamoah Gyan was due Tuesday, the Ghana federation said, as he races to be fit for the start of the tournament. The Al Ain striker is struggling with a hamstring injury but has insisted he'll be ready for Ghana's opening game against debutant Botswana on Jan. 24.

Ghana also plays group games against Mali and Guinea.

Botswana's players had now called off a strike, reports said, after pushing for more money for the country's first-ever trip to the African Cup and refusing to train ahead of Saturday's disappointing 0-0 draw against Zimbabwe.

The Botswana FA said it could not afford to meet players' demands of bonuses of $13,000 each and further payments depending on how far the team progressed in the tournament.

Botswana coach Stanley Tshosane also named his final squad, joining Senegal and Morocco in announcing their final lists for the last African Cup of Nations to be held in an even year.

From 2013 Africa's showpiece will be held in odd years to avoid clashing with the World Cup, although qualifying for next year's event in South Africa was delayed this weekend after Swaziland withdrew because of a lack of funds and Lesotho asked for its preliminary tie with Sao Tome e Principe to be postponed because it couldn't find any flights to the tiny island state.