Former France star Alain Giresse makes a fourth attempt to win
the Africa Cup of Nations as a coach when he leads Group E
favourites Tunisia in Egypt this month.
Now 66, he steered Mali to third place in 2012, but subsequent
campaigns with Senegal and Mali ended in first round exits.
Tunisia should prove too strong for Angola, Mali and debutants
Mauritania, but Carthage Eagles supporters will expect the team
to go much further.
Here, AFP Sport looks at a section where Angola and Mali are
expected to slug it out to be runners-up and claim the other
guaranteed place in the second round.
The Portuguese-speaking southern Africa country are back after
failing to qualify for the last two editions, but it was a close
Needing maximum points away to struggling Botswana, they scraped
a 1-0 win through a goal from Wilson Eduardo, one of several
Portugal-based professionals in the squad.
Coached by Serb Srdjan Vasiljevic, Angola are a workmanlike team
with Geraldo from Egyptian club giants Al Ahly providing
creativity on the right flank.
The best they have achieved in seven previous appearances is two
quarter-final appearances and they will do well to match that
Verdict: A round-of-16 place would seem the limit
The west African nation provided some of the pre-tournament drama
with a threat of disqualification hanging over a squad that was
named 96 hours after the deadline.
World body FIFA warned Malian football officials to get their act
together regarding the holding of elections or face suspension,
and they did so with less than a week to spare.
Mali have often punched above their weight, finishing third in
2012 and 2013 after twice eliminating the host nations, but did
not get out of their group in the last two editions.
Coach Mohamed Magassouba has emphasised youth with the oldest
player -- goalkeeper Ibrahim Mounkoro -- only 29 and new
Southampton forward Moussa Djenepo is set to attract attention.
Verdict: Another side that will struggle to get beyond the second
After decades being among the weakest African football nations,
the largely desert northwestern country have reached the Cup of
Nations for the first time.
National coach Corentin Martins attributes the change of fortunes
to methodical planning with a second division and age-limit
leagues down to under-13 being introduced.
"This will ensure there is plenty of talent to choose the various
national teams from," said the French coach, who has overseen
steady improvement in the national team over four years.
Asked to name his stars, Martins replied: "The team. Many of them
are playing abroad and they have gained a lot of tactical and
Verdict: Winning a match would be great; reaching the round-of-16
Giresse says the bottom line is reaching the quarter-finals as
Tunisia prepare to make a record-extending 14th consecutive
appearance at the tournament.
They became champions at home in 2004, finished runners-up to
hosts South Africa in 1996 and were fourth in between. Six of the
other campaigns ended in last-eight losses.
"I do not want to raise the bar too high and place unnecessary
pressure on the players," cautioned Giresse. "So let us reach the
quarter-finals and then adjust our targets."
Tunisia may lack a star like Egyptian Mohamed Salah or Senegalese
Sadio Mane, but they boast an experienced side used to African
combat and the conditions in Egypt will suit them.
Verdict: Could reach semi-finals, but not good enough to be