Over the weekend, the Africa Cup of Nations kicked off, with Mali's 1-0 defeat of Benin. The Africa Cup of Nations is a biannual competition between African nations (yes George, there are multiple countries in Africa) that serves as the championship of Africa. The winner will go to the 2009 Confederations Cup, where they'll play the other continental champions, including the United States. This year, Ghana is hosting the competition.
Every competition like this has a "group of death", and the 2008 Cup of Nations is no exception. Group B has Nigeria and Cote D'Ivoire, two established countries who both reached the semifinals in 2006 and both with established stars in Europe. Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou, Aruna Dindane, Yaya Toure, Didier Zokora, Arouna Kone are big stars for Cote D'Ivoire, while John Mikel Obi, Nwankwo Kanu, Joseph Yobo, Obafemi Martins, Yakubu, and Peter Odemwingie are big stars for Nigeria. But Mali is a dark horse, with Momo Sissoko and Freddy Kanoute. Too bad for Benin, the fourth team in the group.
And in this gropu, Cote D'Ivoire won their opening game against Nigeria 1-0 on an amazing goal by Saloman Kalou. For video see here.
The other story in the 2008 Cup for me is Ghana. The host nation has won the last two Cups - Tunisia in 2004 and Egypt in 2006. Ghana did the best of any Africa team at the 2006 World Cup, and they have three of the best midfielders in the world, in Essien, Appiah and Muntari. Plus their old-school uniforms are awesome:
Ghana won their first game against Guinea 2-1. A fantastic winning goal in the last minute of the game. Only the quality of the field prevented a larger win by Ghana. The video is at the bottom of the post.
Other teams to look out for are Senegal, Egypt and Cameroon. But I will be rooting for Ghana!