MALABO, Equatorial Guinea – Only months after Equatorial Guinea‘s seamless execution of the 17th African Union Summit, President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo and Gabon’s President, Ali Bongo Ondimba, co-hosted the Africa Cup of Nations tournament draw in the nation’s capital of Malabo. At this event, the 16 countries that qualified for the Africa Cup learned who their opponents would be in the first round.Equatorial Guinea made its debut in the Africa Cup and was seeded with co-host Gabon in Pot 1 of the draw with four-time winner Ghana and Ivory Coast, the 1992 champions.
Equatorial Guinea’s hosting of the Africa Cup comes on the heels of the nation’s hosting successful African Union Summit. “The challenges associated with hosting the Africa Cup of Nations are quite different,” said Minister of Youth and Sports Francisco Eyegue Obama Asue.
Soccer matches for the Africa Cup will based in the Equatorial Guinea cities of Malabo and Bata and the Gabonese cities of Libreville and Franceville.
Equatorial Guinea has built a modern conference city, Sipopo, outside its capital Malabo for the hosting of large-scale international events. Sipopo will also host the events associated with the African-South American Summit, bringing together ministers of foreign affairs from 65 countries this November and heads of state next year. The Africa Cup of Nations is another chance for Equatorial Guinea to show the entire world what the country has accomplished and the progress it continues to make.
Kwadwo Asamoah, a midfielder for Ghana’s Black Stars, admits he must improve his performance for the tough matches coming up over the next two years. The team has set a goal of winning the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations. First, however, they must qualify for the tournament in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. The 2014 World Cup draw pits Ghana with Zambia, and Sudan. If the team is to excel, Asamoah is expected to play a key role. Recently, however, he has recieved some criticism over his performances as the playmaker for the Black Stars. Asamoah, who is currently based in Italy, says he must improve his performance when playing for Ghana, blaming his ineffectiveness on the difficult terrain in Africa.According to Asamoah, the way football is played in Europe and Africa is quite different. African football is also different with the pitches. “With my style of play I want to take off with the ball. In Africa it is always difficult to play that way. When I am with Ghana I want always to do my best and help Ghana,” Asamoah said.
Last season, Asamoah was one of the key players for Udinese who qualified for the Champions League.
Ghana Football Association spokesman Randy Abbey has revealed that Ghana team doctors will be sent to London to further assess Essien’s condition before a decision is made regarding further action. Essien, 28, has been ruled out of action for six months after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament in training at Chelsea FC. He is expected to miss out of the 28th edition of the continental championship which starts next January in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. Ghana is still yet to qualify however they are clear favorites to go through to the finals. The Ghana Football Association says it will wait till the last minute to make a decision on Michael Essien concerning the 2012 Africa Cup Nations Cup finals. The West London club have also insisted Essien will not be rushed back into action which means the enforcer is not likely to represent Ghana at the Nations Cup.
Essien has recently returned from a 16-month break from international duty.