Zimbabwe v Morocco | Sunday, January 12 at 15:00 (GMT)
Zimbabwe are coming into the tournament with good experience and exposure, having participated in the two previous editions in 2009 and 2011, and also emerging as strong contenders in the Southern Zone. The local Warriors are sure to get a tremendous boost from a sizeable number of supporters considering the huge Zimbabwean diaspora in South Africa.
However, Morocco, who are new timers in the competition, boast six players from Raja Casablanca, who stunned the football world last month by reaching the final of the Fifa Club World Cup against Bayern Munich, with Bronze Ball winner Mouhcine Iajour, the man to watch out for, not only in this match but across the tournament if the local Atlas Lions progress from the group stage.
Morocco's Mouhcine Iajour ll Bronze Ball winner at the 2013 Club World Cup
Libya v Ethiopia | Monday, January 13 at 18:00 (GMT)
Both teams have talented and experienced players, who have participated in top competitions with their countries’ senior teams. And since both sides crashed out of the 2014 Fifa World Cup qualifying with bitterness, the Chan will hopefully be another chance to go for gold while providing cheerful moments for their respective fans back home.
The Mediterranean Knights were the only representatives from the Northern Zone at the inaugural edition held in Cote D’Ivoire in 2009, but failed to record any victory in their three group matches, losing one and conceding two draws. Ethiopia are making their first appearance in the tournament but are in a familiar environment where their team impressed last year in the Africa Cup of Nations.
DR Congo v Mauritania | Tuesday, January 14 at 15:00 (GMT)
DR Congo are among the top favourites of Chan 2014, following their consistency in the competition since its inception in 2009. The local Leopards won the first edition, participated in the second and defeated regional giants Cameroon in the qualifiers to book their place in this year’s showpiece. However, the team came without the tournament’s first ever MVP Tresor Mputu, who recently joined Angola champions Kabuscorp.
Mauritania are newcomers, but shouldn’t be mistaken for pushovers. They knocked out Senegal in brilliant fashion to reach the finals, with pace and collective play as their main strength. Their coach says the pressure will be more on the Congolese due to their records and that his charges will play like there’s nothing to lose.
Gabon v Burundi | Tuesday, January 14 at 18:00 (GMT)
Gabon are making their second appearance in the competition after Sudan 2011 where they crashed out in the group stage with just one win against Uganda. However, the local Panthers proved very competitive and prolific in front of goals during qualifying, defeating Cameroon in the Central Zone.
Burundi overcame Sudan to clinch their ticket and are considered as a team with great stamina. Although they will be testing the tournament for the first time, the Swallows possess a bulwark that can contain the Panthers’ sharp wingers.