- Ken Okaka.
Things could have been much trickier for Kwesi Appiah’s side, and they ought to be delighted with a group that gives them a fighting chance of qualifying for the knockout stages in top spot.
In this feature, we introduce the Black Stars’ three group-stage opponents.
Fifa Ranking: 54 (seven in Africa)
How they qualified: The holders were initially ‘bystanders’ in Group B after qualifying automatically as tournament hosts. However, after the organisational rights were taken from them, they were forced to qualify conventionally, and booked their spot in Egypt with a 3-0 victory over the Comoros in Yaounde.
Coach: Clarence Seedorf was one of the greatest players of his generation, winning four Champions League titles with three different clubs, although he’s yet to truly transmit that quality to management. The jury’s out after spells with Milan, Shenzhen FC and Deportivo La Coruna, but can Seedorf—and Patrick Kluivert—bring their wealth of experience to bear for the Indomitable Lions?
Star Player: Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting may have made headlines recently for his once-in-a-generation horror miss for Paris Saint-Germain, but he’ll be desperate to make up for lost time with the Lions after sitting out the 2017 title-winning campaign.
Fifa Ranking: 118 (31 in Africa)
How they qualified: Winners of a weak Group K, benefiting from Zambia’s miserable showing to top the pool on nine points.
Nations Cup pedigree: This is only their second performance, with Guinea-Bissau falling at the first hurdle upon their debut in Gabon two years ago.
Coach: Baciro Cande represented Guinea-Bissau during his time as a player—he featured in Portugal’s lower leagues—and is in his second stint with the national team.
Star Player: The squad could well contain a Pele, a Mane, a Jorginho, but the key man remains captain Zezinho. He’s currently with Slovenian side Senica, following spells in Greece, Cyprus and Portugal, and will play a key role in the heart of the park.
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Fifa Ranking: 91 (19 in Africa)
How they qualified: Defeated Togo in their final qualifier to return to the tournament for the first time since 2010, ultimately ending the campaign with 10 points and a minus one goal difference.
Nations Cup pedigree: Arguably one of Africa’s underachievers, Benin have qualified on three previous occasions, but have never advanced past the group stage.
Coach: Michel Dussuyer has extensive African experience following three spells with Guinea and a previous stint with Benin. However, he flopped in his biggest job to date, overseeing holders Ivory Coast’s first-round elimination in 2017.
Star Player: Mickael Pote and Stephane Sessegnon are two wily old heads, but Steve Mounie’s the chief goalscoring threat, even though he’s struggled to make an impact in the Premier League.