Each of the 44 teams engaged in the elimination rounds of the 2012 Orange Africa Cup of Nations now know their destiny. With just one team qualifying per group, plus the best three second-placed teams, the results could probably not conform to the hierarchy at the start of 2010.
Some groups appear particularly difficult. One thing is certain, even before the kick-off of the elimination rounds; no team will have an easy task.
Group E appears to be the explosive group with Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Senegal. At least one of these three teams will not be present at the 2012 rendezvous. A beautiful controversy is in view in Group G between Egypt, the unbeaten holder of the trophy since 2006 and which hopes to win a fourth consecutive crown, and South Africa, the host of the World Cup.
In Group D, there will be a big derby between Algeria, semifinalist of the last edition in Angola, and its neighbour Morocco. In Group B, Nigeria will have Guinea as its main opponent.
Zambia, in Group C, will not have an easy ride against Libya and Mozambique. Ivory Coast will have to be watchful of Rwanda and Benin in Group H.
As in the second phase 2010 elimination rouds, Ghana will meet Sudan and will also have Congo as an adversary, which is seeking to come back to the ranks of the elite. In Group J, Angola will face Kenya and Uganda, which did not leave them with the best souvenir during the 2010 elimination rounds (see results below).
In Group A, Mali will meet Liberia, Zimbabwe and Cape Vert. Group F will have Burkina Faso as favourite but The Gambia and Namibia will not be simple pushovers, especially The Gambia, which after brilliant performances by its youth team, will for the first time try to secure a place at the final phase of the competition.
Tunisia seems to be the least tightly paired with Botswana, Chad but the revelation of the 2012 CAN, Malawi will give it a hard rope to pull.