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Egypt heads large entry for African Nations Cup draw - Daily News Egypt

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Egypt heads large entry for African Nations Cup draw

CAIRO: Defending champions Egypt head a 47-country entry for the 2008 African Nations Cup qualifying competition draw to be made here today. Until two years ago, title holders were automatic entrants for the biennial tournament won by hosts Egypt for a record fifth time two weeks ago after a penalty shootout against Ivory Coast. But …


CAIRO: Defending champions Egypt head a 47-country entry for the 2008 African Nations Cup qualifying competition draw to be made here today. Until two years ago, title holders were automatic entrants for the biennial tournament won by hosts Egypt for a record fifth time two weeks ago after a penalty shootout against Ivory Coast. But 2004 winners Tunisia had to survive a 10-round qualifying campaign to reach Egypt, where they were eliminated by Nigeria after a quarter-finals thriller settled by penalties. Only 2008 hosts Ghana are exempt from the qualifiers, which are scheduled to start over the weekend of Sept. 1-3 and will provide the other 15 finalists for a tournament first staged in Sudan 49 years ago. All 13 countries who have lifted the Nations Cup are among the entrants released Wednesday by officials from the Cairo-based Confederation of African Football (CAF). Some like Cameroon, Egypt, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Tunisia will have realistic ambitions of safely surviving the qualifying program and going on to lift a trophy that symbolizes African national team supremacy. Democratic Republic of Congo, twice champions when the vast central Africa country was called Zaire, and Morocco should also make it to the next edition of the tournament finals. But Algeria and South Africa, two of 11 hosts to capture the cup, will await the draw with considerable anxiety as the former failed to qualify for Egypt and the latter were eliminated without scoring a goal or securing a point. Congo, Ethiopia and Sudan conquered Africa decades ago and just reaching Ghana will be a noteworthy achievement for countries who do not possess the big names that have become an essential commodity for success. CAF has added to the pre-draw suspense by keeping the format under wraps, but there is certain to be fewer fixtures than for 2006 when Nations Cup and World Cup qualifiers were combined and each country fulfilled 10 fixtures. The five absentees include the Comores, a group of islands off the south-east coast and latest addition to the African football family. Lacking an international-standard ground, they would have had to play all qualifiers away. AFP

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