Countries await 2012 Africa Cup of Nations draw

Ghana squad
Ghana finshed second at the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations in Angola

Sixteen countries will learn their opponents at the Africa Cup of Nations when the draw is made on Saturday.

The draw ceremony takes place in Malabo, the capital of co-hosts Equatorial Guinea, at 1800 GMT.

Surprise inclusions among the 16 teams going into four glass bowls are first-time qualifiers Botswana, Niger and co-hosts Equatorial Guinea.

But notable absentees are Algeria, Cameroon, Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa who failed to qualify.

Niger also make their first appearance as well as and Equatorial Guinea who are automatic participants as co-hosts.

The seedings have been based on performances in the past three editions of the competition with weighting given to the more recent tournaments.

Equatorial Guinea, who will be making their debut, and fellow hosts Gabon will be among the top seeds in Pot One with four-time winners Ghana and 1992 champions Ivory Coast.

Pot Two comprises Angola, Guinea, Tunisia and Zambia, while Burkina Faso, Mali, Morocco and Senegal will be in Pot Three.

Pot Four includes Botswana, Libya, Niger and Sudan, the teams considered least likely to win the biennial showcase of African football.

Confederation of African Football general secretary Hicham El Amrani of Morocco will conduct the draw, filling for the first time a role predecessor Mustapha Fahmy of Egypt held for several decades.

A team from each pot will be placed together, creating four four-team pools that will be based in the Equatorial Guinea cities of Malabo and Bata and the Gabonese cities of Libreville and Franceville.

It has already been decided that Equatorial Guinea, the lowest ranked team in the competition, will be based in Malabo and Gabon in Libreville.

Ghana and Ivory Coast go to the other centres with a separate draw determining which side goes where.

Algeria, Cameroon, Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa will be notable absentees as these giants failed to qualify for the tournament.

Despite the absence of these giants, like always, the draw will produce at least one pool packed with powerful teams in a so-called 'Group of Death'.

How about Ghana, Tunisia, Morocco and Libya - or Ivory Coast, Guinea, Senegal and Sudan?

Possibilities of a weaker pool also exist with Equatorial Guinea or Gabon unlikely to complain if they get Angola, Burkina Faso and Botswana.

Ivory Coast and Ghana have been tipped as favourites for the title.

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