Group A


Hailed by many as the new power in Africa, the Elephants still have plenty to prove after losing home and away to traditional giants Cameroon in qualification.

Côte d'Ivoire

Their outstanding attacking trident of Didier Drogba, Aruna Dindane and Bonaventure Kalou is complemented by a solid defence, built around Kolo Toure and protected by impressive midfield duo Didier Zokora and Yaya Toure, Kolo's younger brother. Henri Michel's team may have one eye on a first World Cup appearance, but must first focus on conquering Africa.

Verdict: Winners

Player to watch. . .

Scorer of nine goals in qualification, Drogba's wholehearted performances and prolific record have given him hero status in his homeland.


The Pharaohs have a formidable home record, winning two of their four continental crowns as hosts, and they will be hard to beat in front of 74,000 partisan fans at the Cairo International Stadium. Much could depend on the opening match against Libya, whom they lost to in qualification. That defeat spelt the end for Italian coach Marco Tardelli, though performances have improved considerably under Hassan Shehata. The return of crowd favourite Ahmed Hossam "Mido" has given Egypt a focal point in attack.

Verdict: Semi-finals

Player to watch. . .

The star of Al-Ahly's African Champions League success, Mohamed Barakat is an intelligent, all-action midfielder and an inspirational captain.


Rank outsiders, the north Africans have qualified for only the second time. They reached the final as hosts in 1982, losing on penalties to Ghana, but a repeat performance seems unimaginable. Recent investment by Al-Saadi Gadaffi, the Colonel's son, has helped get Libya back on track and they secured home draws against Côte d'Ivoire and Cameroon and beat Egypt in qualification. But Ilija Loncarevic's side stand little chance in the toughest group of all.

Verdict: Fourth in the group

Player to watch: One of the few on the national squad plying his trade outside Libya, Gaziantepspor midfielder Tarek El Taib is a cultured player excelling in the Turkish top flight.


On ability alone the Atlas Lions should be a major force, but recent off-pitch chaos is sure to have affected the one-time winners. Beaten finalists two years ago, Badou Zaki's young team were unfortunate to miss out on World Cup qualification after an unbeaten campaign. Zaki resigned in October, but his replacement Philippe Troussier lasted just two months. The Frenchman's bizarre sacking prompted outrage. New boss Mohammed Fakhir has just two weeks to prepare.

Verdict: Third in the group

Player to watch.. .

A tall, elegant striker, Marouane Chamakh of Bordeaux is highly rated in France and is one of five nominees for the African Player of the Year award.