In Summary
  • Soccer. The fifth edition Africa Nations Championships (Chan) offers another chance to home based players from 16 nations to showcase their talents over the next month in Morocco.
  • SCORE’s Darren Allan Kyeyune explores the four different groups to offer a deeper insight ahead of this continental meet.

Nickname: ‘Atlas Lions’
Fifa Ranking: 40
Coach: Jamal Sellami
Chan Appearances: 3 (2014, 2016 & 2018)
Qualification: Hosts
Even if Kenya had hosted, Morocco was set to feature at Chan 2018 having eliminated Egypt in the qualifiers. Moroccan football is peaking having returned to the Fifa World Cup for the first time in 20 years. Also, Wydad Casablanca became the first Moroccan club since 1999 to lift continental silverware when they edged Egypt’s Al Ahly in last year’s Caf Champions League. Such is the vibe that the North Africa nation must maintain formin front of their home crowd under coach Jamal Sellami’s tutelage.


Nickname: ‘The Elephants’
Fifa Ranking: 61
Coach: Ibrahim Kamara
Chan Ranking: 4 (2009, 2011, 2016 & 2018)
Qualification: Beat Niger via away goals rule, 2-2 agg.
At a time when the nation is still recovering from failure to qualify for the imminent Fifa World Cup, coach Ibrahim Kamara is tasked to lift the spirits with a stand-out performance. He has most of his eggs from league champions ASEC Mimosas to make the desired omelette.

Nickname: ‘The Mediterranean Knights’
Fifa Ranking: 88
Coach: Omar Al-Marimi
Chan Appearances: 3 (2009, 2014 & 2018)
Qualification: Beat Algeria 3-2 on agg.
Like Desabre at Uganda Cranes, new coach Omar Al-Marimi has not had much time with the Mediterranean Knights. However, the 2014 Chan champions can draw inspiration from Al-Ahli Tripoli who made the Caf Champions League quarterfinals last year. Nine players from Tripoli are in Al-Marimi’s squad.


Nickname: ‘Indomitable Lions’
Fifa Ranking: 45
Coach: Rigobert Song Bahanag
Chan Ranking: 3 (2011, 2016 & 2018)
Qualification: Beat Sao Tome & Principe 4-0 on agg
Ex-captain Rigobert Song is now leading the nation at the tactical front. And his main role is to help Cameroon recover from a two-faced 2017 following Afcon 2017 success in Gabon to no shows at the Fifa Confederations Cup and the Fifa World Cup Qualifiers. A familiar name in Eto’o (David Pierre though) is the oldest in Song’s squad comprising a trio from the Elite One league champions Eding Sport. They must turn the quarterfinal finishes at 2011 and 2016 editions into something bigger.

Nickname: ‘Cranes’
Fifa Ranking: 75
Coach: Sebastien Desabre
Chan Appearances: 4 (2011, 2014, 2016 & 2018)
Qualification: Beat Rwanda 3-2 on agg.
The transition from interim coach Moses Basena to Sebastien Desabre has been so close to this tournament. Even after friendlies against Guinea and Congo, questions still linger around Desabre’s command of the Cranes dressing room. The Cranes confront tough Chan history as they have never made it out of the group stages under Bobby Williamson in 2011 and Micho Sredojevic in 2014 and 2016. Probably, the French gaffer will count his chances as he has a more enterprising striking line comprising Derrick Nsibambi, Muhammad Shaban and Nelson Ssenkatuka than in the previous editions.

Nickname: ‘Chipolopolo’
Fifa Ranking: 74
Coach: Wedson Nyirenda
Chan Appearances: 3 (2009, 2016 & 2018)
Qualification: Beat Swaziland 7-0 on agg.
On noticing the 2012 Afcon winning squad had hit the horizon, Zambia opted to nurture new faces and the side that featured at last year’s U-20 World Cup is the future. None from that team is in Morocco as Zambia aim to their first appearance where they scooped bronze in 2009. One man to watch is Zesco United striker Lazarus Kambole who netted 10 goals in the league last year.

Nickname: ‘Syli Nationale’
Fifa Ranking: 65
Coach: Lappy Bangoura
Chan Appearances: 2 (2016 & 2018)
Qualification: Beat Senegal 6-3 on agg.
In the near future, Guinea will be a force to reckon with in African football basing on their strong youth structures. A semifinal appearance at Fifa U-17 World Cup in India as well as the appearance at Fifa U-20 World Cup in South Korea all last year is enough evidence. Already, Jean Charles Fernandez was in South Korea and is part of the side in Morocco. Guinea were unlucky to lose to eventual winners DR Congo via penalties during the previous Chan edition in 2016. NAMIBIA
Nickname: ‘Brave Warriors’
Fifa Ranking: 118
Coach: Ricardo Mannetti
Chan Appearances: 1 (2018)
Qualification: Beat Zimbabwe via penalties after 1-1 agg.
One may not ask for much from the Brave Warriors at their debut tournament. However, the experience of their coach Ricardo Mannetti, who won the 2015 Cosafa Cup and 2017 Dr Hage Geingob Cup, could be their backbone.

Nickname: ‘Falcons of Jediane’
Fifa Ranking: 136
Coach: Zdravko Logarusic
Chan Appearances: 2 (2011 & 2018)
Qualification: Beat Burundi 1-0 on agg.
A lot has changed ever since Sudan finished third as Chan hosts in 2011 and an Africa Cup of Nations quarterfinal in West Africa a year later. The run-up to their second Chan appearance must have been dented by the Fifa ban that had their clubs Al-Hilal, Al-Merrikh dumped out of the Caf Champions League while Al-Hilal Obeid from the Caf Confederation Cup. But new coach Zdravko Logarusic gives the nation hope after stints in Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania and Angola.

Nickname: ‘Al-Murabitun’
Fifa Ranking: 99
Coach: Corentin Martins
Chan Appearances: 2 (2014 & 2018)
Qualification: Beat Mali 3-2 on agg.
Having had a meteoric rise from 206th place to 99th in the recent Fifa ranking progression, Mauritania carry hopes of upstaging this group at their debut Chan tourney.

Nickname: ‘Super Eagles’
Fifa Ranking: 51
Coach: Yusu Salisu
Chan Appearances: 3 (2014, 2016 & 2018)
Qualification: Beat Benin 2-1 on agg
When Elvis Chisom Chikatara struck a hat-trick to give Nigeria a 4-1 win over Niger, the expectations were high that the Super Eagles would go far at Chan 2016. But that episode in Rwanda faded fast at the hands of then coach Sunday Oliseh. With Yusufu Salisu in charge, Nigeria is still speaking in high volumes about their chances of flourishing in Morocco.

Nickname: ‘Amavubi’
Fifa Ranking: 113
Coach: Antoine Hey
Chan Appearances: 3 (2011, 2016 & 2018)
Qualification: Beat Ethiopia 4-3 via play-off
All hopes were gone when Uganda eliminated the Amavubi in the qualifiers. But when Kenya failed to host, Rwanda were back in a ‘play-off’. However, Antoine Hey has been away in Europe on sick leave in the build-up to this tournament. Couple that with Rwanda’s failure to make the last four at Cecafa in Kenya last year, it will be a tough task to star in Tangier.

Nickname: ‘Nzalang Nacional’
Fifa Ranking: 146
Coach: Franck Dumas
Chan Appearances: 1 (2018)
Qualification: Got a walk over against Gabon
Equatorial Guinea stunned the continent when they made the last four during the Afcon 2015 tournament as hosts. But when they don’t feature in hosting competitions, they offer really less on the field of play. They have another difficult job at their Chan debut.

Nickname: ‘Palancas Negras’
Fifa Ranking: 141
Coach: Srdjan Vasiljevic
Chan Ranking: 3 (2011, 2016 & 2018)
Qualification: Beat Madagascar 1-0 on agg.
The bookmakers still wonder how the generation of Flavio Amado, Ze Kalanga, Manucho Goncalvez and Fabrice Akwa faded fast. There have been no big signs of a renaissance but if anything, Serbian tactician Srdjan Vasiljevic could start something here with the faces from Petro Atletico de Luanda and InterClube.

Nickname: ‘The Stallions’
Fifa Ranking: 44
Coach: Drissa Traore Malo
Chan Appearances: 2 (2014 & 2018)
Qualification: Beat Ghana 4-3 on agg.
The Stallions are here at the expense of 2014 losing finalists Ghana and that’s a big plus. They will aim to go past the group stages while using the advantage of decent physique.

Nickname: ‘Red Devils’
Fifa Ranking: 96
Coach: Barthemely Gatsono
Chan: 2 (2014 & 2018)
Qualification: Beat DR Congo via away goals rule
If you want to know why record and defending Chan champions are not here, look no further than their neighbours from Brazzaville. Coach Barthemely Gatsono has six players from league champions AC Leopards, a side that lifted the Caf Confederation Cup title six years ago.