By Andrew Robinson | Africa Cup of Nations
It’s starting to get interesting at the African Cup of Nations with every team having a run-out in South Africa.
While 15 Premier League players went to the tournament – 12 of them could be involved in the competition into February. With the amount of scouts and agents looking to take the best the continent has to offer to England there could be more in the pipeline.
The Ivory Coast squad has the largest contingent of English-based players in the tournament, with the Toure brothers, Gervinho, Arouna Kone, Abdul Razak and Cheick Tiote all members of the side.
As 6/4 favourites with Paddy Power the pressure is on The Elephants, but the Premier League boys pulled them out of a hole in the first group game against Togo. Yaya Toure opened the scoring, but Sabri Lamouchi’s side looked slow, typified by Kolo Toure, who struggled all day against Emmanuel Adebayor.
I was expecting something better from us – it wasn’t our best performance,” Toure said. I thought the first match was going to be difficult, but it was much harder than I envisaged.
After Togo drew level it was left to Arsenal’s Gervinho to hammer home an 88th minute volley to take the win.
Nigeria have two Chelsea players in their ranks and it has been mixed fortunes for John Obi Mikel and Victor Moses.
Mikel was instrumental in The Super Eagles’ draw with Burkina Faso, showing the pinpoint passing his performances with Chelsea have lacked. He even had a hand in the goal, starting the move which saw Emmanuel Emenike put the side ahead.
Moses missed out on the game through injury, but he looks like he could be fit to play for Nigeria against defending champions Zambia on Friday afternoon.
West Brom’s Yousouff Mulumbu was in his element in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s goalless draw with Niger on Thursday, spending 90 minutes battling away in the midfield.
Morocco’s Premier League squad members, Liverpool’s Oussama Assaidi and Aston Villa’s Karim El Ahmadi have both had steady starts to the tournament and played important roles in their side’s unbeaten start.
Two draws mean Morocco are still in with a chance of qualification to the knock-out stages, but the tricky Assaidi will have to bring his best form when they take on group leaders South Africa.
Queens Park Rangers’ Samba Diakite and West Ham’s Modibo Maiga have had a mixed start to the tournament, playing small roles in Mali’s 1-0 win over Niger after losing 1-0 to Ghana earlier.
Luckily they are still second in the group and look set to qualify for the knockout stages. One Premier League player that could be coming home early is Southampton’s Emmanuel Mayuka.
Zambia failed to beat lowly Ethiopia in the first game, despite their keeper being sent off for a horror tackle.
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