Cup of Nations drama ready to begin in Swiss boardroom

Cup of Nations drama ready to begin in Swiss boardroom

JOHANNESBURG - Agence France-Presse
Cup of Nations drama ready to begin in Swiss boardroom

Burkina Faso defender Herve Zengue (L) is at the center of a legal dispute which may ultimately lead to his country’s exclusion from the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations. AFP photo

The first African football drama of 2012 will unfold in a Swiss boardroom as Namibia continues a battle to get Burkina Faso kicked out of the upcoming Cup of Nations.

Namibia claims Cameroon-born Herve Zengue was ineligible to play against the team in qualifiers for the 2012 African showcase and wants to replace Burkina Faso at the January 21-February 12 tournament in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.

Having had two appeals rejected by African football governing body CAF, the Namibians have turned to the Switzerland-based Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to reverse what official Barry Rukoro calls a “travesty of justice”.

CAS will meet early January and hear the case against Chechnya-based Zengue, who is married to a Burkinabe but does not fulfil any of the FIFA criteria to play for the country of his wife.

Although Burkina Faso coach Paulo Duarte has been dismissive of the Namibian appeals, he did not include the left-back in his provisional squad for Group B fixtures against Angola, Ivory Coast and Sudan.

Ivory Coast and Ghana are favorites for the Cup of Nations in the absence of defending champions Egypt and other regular participants like Algeria, Cameroon, Nigeria and South Africa.

New CAF Footballer of the Year Yaya Toure heads a galaxy of stars seeking a second title for Ivory Coast while third-place Andre Ayew, a son of legend Abedi ‘Pele’ Ayew, is a potential match-winner for four-time champion Ghana.

Senegal is blessed with an abundance of consistent scorers like Moussa Sow and Demba Ba as the team chases a first crown and Gabon, Guinea, Morocco and Tunisia could go far.

Botswana and Niger appears for the first time along with Equatorial Guinea, who owe their place to being co-hosts of a tournament which switches to uneven-number years from 2013 to avoid clashing with the World Cup.

With two Cup of Nations tournaments in as many years, the 2013 qualifiers kick off early January before the 2012 tournament starts and the 15 teams to join hosts South Africa will be decided over three knockout rounds.