Africa Cup of Nations squads begin to take form
Title favourites Algeria have named a final squad for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea while Group C rivals Ghana and South Africa are undecided.
New Ghana coach Avram Grant, who guided Chelsea in the 2008 Champions League final loss on penalties to Manchester United, chose a 31-man provisional squad.
And South Africa counterpart, Ephraim Mashaba, called up 34 players for a post-Christmas Johannesburg training camp.
Cape Verde, Gabon and Mali have also picked final squads for the biennial 16-nation African football showpiece at Equatoguinean venues Bata, Ebebiyin, Malabo and Mongomo.
Other contenders to select provisional squads of varying numbers include Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Republic of Congo, Senegal, Tunisia and Zambia.
Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea and Ivory Coast have yet to reveal their hands ahead of a January 7 deadline for final player lists.
France-born Algeria coach Christian Gourcuff included 18 of the 23 players who went to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and took the North African country to the knockout stage for the first time.
The Desert Foxes bowed out in the second round after forcing eventual champions Germany into extra-time before suffering a 2-1 defeat.
Newcomers are goalkeeper Izzeddine Doukha, defender Mehdi Zeffane, midfielders Mehdi Abeid and Foued Kadir, and striker Ishak Belfodil.
They replace Cedric Si Mohamed, Liassine Cadamuro, Nabil Ghilas, Mehdi Mostefa and Hassan Yebda for a competition Algeria won in 1990 as hosts.
Their good World Cup showing lifted Algeria to No 1 on the African rankings, and a five-match winning streak in the 2015 qualifiers has confirmed the Foxes as favourites.
Grant omitted Kevin-Prince Boateng and Sulley Muntari, who were kicked out of the World Cup squad in Brazil, after initially hinting that he might recall the midfielders.
Muntari assaulted a Ghanaian official and Boateng was sent home after training-ground disagreements with then-coach Kwesi Appiah.
Veteran midfielder Michael Essien, who played under Grant at Chelsea, was another former star who failed to make the cut.
There were recalls for DR Congo-based goalkeeper Ernest Sowah, defender Samuel Inkoom from American club Houston Dynamo and Italy-based midfielder Alfred Duncan.
Grant will rely heavily on Al Ain striker Asamoah Gyan, who made the final five of the 2014 African Footballer of the Year race before being eliminated.
South Africa are back at the Africa Cup of Nations as qualifiers for the first time since 2008 and much of the credit has been heaped on former Orlando Pirates defender Mashaba.
He has restored pride to a national team that steadily slumped after conquering Africa in 1996, and lifted morale when goalkeeper-captain Senzo Meyiwa was murdered during the qualifying campaign.
“I want to give everyone a chance to impress, hence the bloated squad,” he said of a group from which he must drop 11 players.
A surprise omission from the provisional group is Kaizer Chiefs centre-back Tefu Mashamaite, who started in a drawn final-round eliminator away to defending champions Nigeria, who did not qualify.
Probably the biggest concern for Mashaba is striker Tokelo Rantie from English Championship leaders Bournemouth, who hopes to recover from a shoulder injury.
Angry ex-Newcastle United and Chelsea striker Demba Ba took to Twitter after being left out of the provisional 28-man Senegal squad picked by coach and former France star Alain Giresse.
“I cannot wait to hear the excuses of the coach and then destroy them one by one,” tweeted the 29-year-old who has been scoring regularly for Besiktas in Turkey.
Giresse has many proven goal poachers to choose from, including Papiss Cisse of Newcastle and Sadio Mane of Southampton, who scored in weekend English Premier League matches.
FINAL (23 players)
Goalkeepers: Stephane Bitseki (Mounana), Anthony Mezui (Metz/France), Didier Ovono (KV Oostende/Belgium)
Defenders: Aaron Appindangoye (Mounana), Yrondy Musavu King (Caen/France), Bruno Ecuele Manga (Cardiff City/England, second tier), Henri Junior Ndong (Auxerre/France, second tier), Johan Obiang (Chateauroux/France, second tier), Benjamin Ze Ondo (ES Setif/Algeria), Lloyd Palun (Nice/France), Junior Randal Oto Zue (Braga/Portugal)
Midfielders: Kanga Guelor (Rostov/Russia), Mario Lemina (Marseille/France), Levy Madinda (Celta Vigo/Spain), Samson Mbingui (Mouloudia Alger/Ageria), Didier Ibrahim Ndong (CS Sfaxien/Tunisia), Alexander Ndoumbou (Marseille/France), Andre Biyogho Poko (Bordeaux/France)
Strikers: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Borussia Dortmund/Germany), Frederic Bulot (Charlton Athletic/England, second tier), Malick Evouna (Wydad Casablanca/Morocco), Johan Lengoualama (Difaa El Jadida/Morocco), Romaric Rogombe (AC Leopards/Republic of Congo)
Cape Verde Islands
Goalkeepers: Ivan Cruz (Gil Vicente/Portugal), Kevin Sousa (Nacional/Portugal), Vozinha (Sambizanga/Angola)
Defenders: Carlitos (Apoel Limassol/Cyprus), Gege (Marítimo/Portugal), Jeffrey (Dordrecht/Netherlands), Kay (Craiova/Romania, unaffiliated), Nivaldo (Teplice/Czech Republic), Stopira (Videoton/Hungary), Varela (Steaua Bucharest/Romania)
Midfielders: Babanco (Estoril/Portugal), Calu (Sambizanga/Angola), Platini (CSKA Sofia/Bulgaria), Nuno Rocha (Craiova/Romania, unaffiliated), Samedo (Olhanense/Portugal, second tier), Toni (Excelsior/Netherlands)
Strikers: Djaniny (Santos Laguna/Mexico), Heldon (Sporting Lisbon/Portugal), Kuca (Estoril/Portugal), Garry Mendes (Elche/Spain), Ryan Mendes (Lille/France), Odair (Reims/France), Julio Tavares (Dijon/France, second tier)
Note: most Cape Verde footballers use Brazil-style nicknames
Goalkeepers: Izzeddine Doukha (Kabylie), Rais Mbolhi (Philadelphia Union/USA), Mohamed Zemmamouche (USMA)
Defenders: Essaid Belkalem, Carl Medjani (both Trabzonspor/Turkey), Madjid Bougherra (Fujairah/UAE), Faouzi Ghoualm (Napoli/Italy), Rafik Halliche (Qatar Sports Club/Qatar), Aissa Mandi (Reims/France), Djamel Mesbah (Sampdoria/Italy), Mehdi Zeffane (Lyon/France)
Midfielders: Mehdi Abeid (Newcastle/England), Nabil Bentaleb (Tottenham/England), Yacine Brahimi (Porto/Portugal), Foued Kadir (Real Betis/Spain, second tier), Medhi Lacen (Getafe/Spain), Saphir Taider (Sassuolo/Italy)
Strikers: Ishak Belfodil (Parma/Italy), Abdelmoumene Djabou (Club Africain/Tunisia), Sofiane Feghouli (Valencia/Spain), Riyad Mahrez (Leicester City/England), Islam Slimani (Sporting Lisbon/Portugal), Hilal Soudani (Dinamo Zagreb/Croatia)
Goalkeepers: Germain Berthe (Onze Createurs), Soumaila Diakite (Esteghlal/Iran), Ntji Samake (Dougouwolofila)
Defenders: Idrissa Coulibaly (Hassania Agadir/Morocco), Ousmane Coulibaly (Platanias/Greece), Salif Coulibaly (TP Mazembe/DR Congo), Drissa Diakite (Bastia/France), Fousseyni Diawara (Tours/France, second tier), Mohamed Konate (Nahdat Berkane/Morocco), Adama Tamboura (Randers/Denmark), Molla Wague (Udinese/Italy)
Midfielders: Sigamary Diarra (Valenciennes/France, second tier), Ahmed Doumbia (Toulouse/France), Seydou Keita (Roma/Italy), Mamoutou Ndiaye (Waregem/Belgium), Bakary Sako (Wolves/England, second tier), Yacouba Sylla (Erciyesspor/Turkey), Abdou Traore (Bordeaux/France), Sambou Yatabare (Guingamp/France)
Strikers: Cheick Diabate (Bordeaux/France), Abdoulaye Diaby (Mouscron/Belgium), Modibo Maiga (Metz/France), Mustapha Yatabare (Trabzonspor/Turkey)
Burkina Faso (24 players)
Goalkeepers: Moussa Fofana (Kadiogo), Germain Sanou (Bauvais/France, fourth tier), Abdoulaye Soulama (Hearts of Oak/Ghana)
Defenders: Wilfried Balima (Sheriff Tiraspol/Moldova), Narcisse Bambara (Cluj/Romania), Issa Gouo (Kaloum/Guinea), Mohamed Koffi (Zamalek/Egypt), Bakary Kone (Lyon/France), Paul Koulibaly (Horoya/Guinea), Florent Rouamba (Bastia/France), Steve Yago (Toulouse/France)
Midfielders: Adama Guira (Sonderyesk/Denmark), Charles Kabore (Kuban/Russia), Djakaridja Kone (Evian/France), Prejuce Nakoulma (Mersin/Turkey), Abdul Razack Traore (Karakbukspor/Turkey), Bertrand Traore (Vitesse/Netherlands), Moussa Yedan (Al Ahly/Egypt), Jonathan Zongo (Almeria/Spain)
Strikers: Aristide Bance (HJK/Finland), Banou Diawarra (Bobo), Issaka Ouedraogo (Admira Wacker/Austria), Jonathan Pitroipa (Al Jazira/UAE), Alain Traore (Lorient/France)
Republic of Congo (26)
Goalkeepers: Christoffer Mafoumbi (Le Pontet/France, fifth tier), Chansel Massa (AC Leopards), Pavhel Ndzila (Etoile)
Defenders: Dimitri Bissiki, Boris Moubio (both AC Leopards), Marvin Baudry (Amiens/France, third tier), Antoni Mavoungou (CNFF), Arnold Moutou (Angers/France, second tier), Francis Nganga (Charleroi/Belgium), Igor Nganga (Aarau/Switzerland)
Midfielders: Sagesse Babele, Cesaire Gandze (both Leopards), Hardy Binguila (Diables Noirs), Scott Bitsindou (Anderlecht/Belgium), Christopher Maboulou (Bastia/France), Chris Malonga (Lausanne/Switzerland), Jordan Massengo (Mons/Belgium, second tier), Delvin Ndinga (Olympiakos/Greece), Prince Oniangue (Reims/France)
Strikers: Thievy Bifouma (Almeria/Spain), Fode Dore (Cluj/Romania), Ladislas Douniama (Guingamp/France), Sylvere Ganvoula (Raja Casablanca/Morocco), Francis Litsingi (Teplice/Czech Republic), Dominique Malonga (Hibernian/Scotland), Fabrice Ondama (Wydad Casablanca/Morocco)
Goalkeepers: Moez Ben Cherifia (Esperance), Aymen Mathlouthi (Etoile Sahel), Farouk Ben Mustapha (Club Africain)
Defenders: Aymen Abdennour (Monaco/France), Rami Bedoui (Etoile Sahel), Slim Ben Jemai (Laval/France, second tier), Ali Maaloul (CS Sfaxien), Hamza Mathlouthi (Bizertin), Yassine Mikari (Club Africain), Bilel Mohsni (Rangers/Scotland, second tier), Mohamed Ali Yaakoubi (Esperance), Syam Ben Youssef (Astra Giurgiu/Romania)
Midfielders: Mohamed Ali Moncer, Ferjani Sassi (both CS Sfaxien), Yassine Chikhaoui (Zurich/Switzerland), Wahbi Khazri (Bordeaux/France), Youssef Msakni (Lekhwiya/Qatar), Stephane Nater (Club Africain), Houcine Ragued (Esperance), Jamel Saihi (Montpellier/France)
Strikers: Mohamed Amine Chermiti (Zurich/Switzerland), Anis Ben Htira (Hertha Berlin/Germany), Saber Khalifa (Club Africain), Yohan Tozgar (Lens/France), Hamza Younes (Ludogorets Razgrad/Bulgaria), Fakhreddine Ben Youssef (CS Sfaxien)
Goalkeepers: Danny Munyau (Red Arrows), Kennedy Mweene (Sundowns/South Africa), Toaster Nsabata (Nchanga), Joshua Titima (Power Dynamos)
Defenders: Donashano Malama, Christopher Munthali (both Nkana), Bronson Chama (Arrows), Rodrick Kabwe (Zanaco), Aaron Katebe (Platinum/Zimbabwe), Emmanuel Mbola (Hapoel Ra’anana/Israel), Davies Nkausu (Bloemfontein Celtic/South Africa), Stoppila Sunzu (Sochaux/France, second tier)
Midfielders: Rainford Kalaba (TP Mazembe/DR Congo), Chisamba Lungu (Ural/Russia), Kondwani Mtonga (North East United/India), Mukuka Mulenga (Bloemfontein Celtic/South Africa), Bruce Musakanya (Arrows), Lubambo Musonda (Ulisses/Armenia), Spencer Sautu (Green Eagles), Nathan Sinkala (Grasshoppers/Switzerland)
Strikers: James Chamanga (Liaoning Whowin/China), Ronald Kampamba (Nkana), Evans Kangwa (Ra’anana/Israel), Emmanuel Mayuka (Southampton/England), Jackson Mwanza (Zesco), Patrick Ngoma (Arrows), Given Singuluma (TP Mazembe/DR Congo)
Goalkeepers: Stephen Adams (Aduana), Razak Braimah (Mirandes/Spain, second tier), Fatau Dauda (AshGold), Ernest Sowah (Don Bosco/DR Congo)
Defenders: Kwabena Adusei, Edwin Gyimah (both Black Aces/South Africa), Harrison Afful (Esperance/Tunisia), Daniel Amartey (Copenhagen/Denmark), Mohammed Awal (Maritzburg/South Africa), John Boye (Erciyesspor/Turkey), Samuel Inkoom (Houston Dynamo/USA), Jonathan Mensah (Evian/France), Baba Rahman (Augsburg/Germany), Jeffery Schlupp (Leicester/England)
Midfielders: Frank Acheampong (Anderlecht/Belgium), Afriyie Acquah (Parma/Italy), Albert Adomah (Middlesbrough/England, second tier), Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu (Udinese/Italy), Solomon Asante (TP Mazembe/DR Congo), Christian Atsu (Everton/England), Andre Ayew (Marseille/France), Alfred Duncan (Sampdoria/Italy), Adu Kofi (Malmo/Sweden), Rabiu Mohammed (Krasnodar/Russia), Ibrahim Moro (AIK/Sweden), Mubarak Wakaso (Celtic/Scotland)
Strikers: David Accam (Chicago Fire/USA), Kwesi Appiah (Cambridge/England, fourth tier), Jordan Ayew (Lorient/France), Asamoah Gyan (Al Ain/UAE), Abdul-Majeed Waris (Trabzonspor/Turkey)
Goalkeepers: Pape Camara (Sochaux/France, second tier), Bouna Coundoul (Ethnikos Achnas/Cyprus), Lys Gomis (Trappani/Italy, second tier), Ousmane Mane (Diambars)
Defenders: Papy Djilobodji (Nantes/France), Boukary Drame (Atalanta/Italy), Lamine Gassama (Lorient/France), Ibrahima Mbaye (Inter Milan/Italy), Cheikh Mbengue (Rennes/France), Kara Mbodj (Genk/Belgium), Lamine Sane (Bordeaux/France), Pape Ndiaye Souare (Lille/France), Zargo Toure (Le Havre/France, second tier)
Midfielders: Stephane Badji (Brann/Norway), Pape Kouli Diop (Levante/Spain), Idrissa Gana Gueye (Lille/France), Cheikhou Kouyate (West Ham United/England), Alfred Ndiaye (Real Betis/Spain, second tier), Pape Alioune Ndiaye (Bodo Glimt/Norway), Salif Sane (Hannover/Germany)
Strikers: Papiss Cisse (Newcastle United/England), Mame Diouf (Stoke City/England), Moussa Konate (Sion/Switzerland), Sadio Mane (Southampton/England), Dame Ndoye (Lokomotiv Moscow/Russia), Henri Saivet (Bordeaux/France), Diafra Sakho (West Ham United/England), Moussa Sow (Fenerbahce/Turkey)
South Africa (34)
Goalkeepers: Darren Keet (Kortrijk/Belgium), Brilliant Khuzwayo (Kaizer Chiefs), Jackson Mabokgwane (Black Aces), Siyabonga Mpontshane (Platinum)
Defenders: Thabo Matlaba, Ntsikelelo Nyauza, Patrick Phungwayo (all Orlando Pirates), Thulani Hlatswayo, Siyabonga Nhlapo (both Wits), Rivaldo Coetzee (Ajax Cape Town), Mzikayise Mashaba (Sundowns), Eric Mathoho (Chiefs), Kwanda Mngonyama (Maritzburg), Anele Ngcongca (Genk/Belgium)
Midfielders: Asavele Mbekile, Bongani Zungu, Themba Zwane (all Sundowns), Reneilwe Letsholonyane, Mandla Masango (both Chiefs), Jabulani Shongwe, Sibusiso Vilakazi (both Wits), Mondli Cele (Maritzburg), Dean Furman (Doncaster Rovers/England, third tier), Andile Jali (KV Oostende/Belgium), Oupa Manyisa (Pirates), Thuso Phala (SuperSport), Thamsanqa Sangweni (Chippa), Thulani Serero (Ajax Amsterdam/Netherlands), Vuyisile Wana (Swallows)
Strikers: Bongani Ndulula (AmaZulu), Tokelo Rantie (Bournemouth/England, second tier), Bernard Parker (Chiefs), Ayanda Patosi (Lokeren/Belgium), David Zulu (Chippa)
Goalkeepers: Pierre Abogo (Tonnerre), Guy Assembe (Nancy/France, second tier), Joseph Ondoua (Barcelona/Spain)
Defenders: Brice Ekongolo, Nicolas Nkoulou (both Marseille/France), Jerome Ata (Valenciennes/France, second tier), Franck Bagnack (Barcelona/Spain), Henri Bedimo (Lyon/France), Ambroise Bitolo (New York Red Bulls/USA), Cedric Djeugoue (Coton Sport)
Midfielders: Patrick Ekeng (Cordoba/Spain), Enoh Eyong (Standard Liege/Belgium), Franck Kom (Etoile Sahel/Tunisia), Raoul Loe (Osasuna/Spain, second tier), Georges Mandjeck (Erciyesspor/Turkey), Stephane Mbia (Sevilla/Spain), Edgard Salli (Academica Coimbra/Portugal)
Strikers: Vincent Aboubakar (Porto/Portugal), Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting (Schalke/Germany), Franck Etoundi (Zurich/Switzerland), Leonard Kwekeu (Caykur Rizespor/Turkey), Benjamin Moukandjo (Reims/France), Clinton N’Jie (Lyon/France), Jacques Zoua (Erciyesspor/Turkey)
– Equatorial Guinea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea and Ivory Coast have to name provisional or final squads
– Deadline for final squads is January 7
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Updated: December 29, 2014 04:00 AM