Ghana, Ivory Coast get tough 2012 Cup of Nations draw

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

Title favourites Ghana and Ivory Coast were handed tough draws for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations on Saturday.

The Black Stars will play Mali, Guinea and Botswana in Group D of the tournament to be based in Franceville.

The Elephants will play Burkina Faso, Sudan and Angola in Group B, based in the EquatoGuinean capital Malabo.

Morocco will face Tunisia, Niger and co-hosts Gabon in Group C, while Senegal will play in Group A along with Equatorial Guinea, Libya and Zambia.

Libya, who qualified for the tournament in fairytale fashion, were drawn to play in the tournament's opening game.

They meet co-hosts Equatorial Guinea in Group A in Bata on 21 January to launch the three-week event.

The North Africans will believe they have a reasonable chance of making the second round after also being paired with Senegal and Zambia.

Libya finished second in their qualifying section and went through to the finals as one of the best runners-up.

Ghana will face tough West African rivals Mali and Guinea who have proven to be no pushovers in their recent appearances in the continental tournament.

With Botswana being the first to qualify for the competition, the Black Stars are up for some tricky matches in Group D.

"Group D is a very well-balanced group but we are the favourites," former Ghana international defender Tony Baffoe told BBC Sport.

Co-hosts Gabon were out of luck in Group C as they were lumped with potentially powerful North African contenders Morocco and Tunisia plus Niger, shock winners of an elimination group that included defending champions Egypt.

Tunisia beat Morocco in the 2004 final and are the only winners from the last eight Nations Cup tournaments to have qualified for the 2012 event.

Ivory Coast are the top seeds in Group B where they again meet Burkina Faso who shared the same opening-round section at the last edition in Angola in 2010.

Group A: Equatorial Guinea, Libya, Senegal, Zambia (Bata)

Group B: Ivory Coast, Sudan, Burkina Faso and Angola (Malabo)

Group C: Gabon, Niger, Morocco and Tunisia (Libreville)

Group D: Ghana, Botswana, Mali and Guinea (Franceville)

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