Africa Cup of Nations 2012: Gabon & Equatorial Guinea
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Africa Cup of Nations 2012: Gabon & Equatorial Guinea

The Africa Cup of Nations 2012 is being hosted by Equatorial Guinea and Gabon and it runs between the 21st January and the 12th February when the Final will be played in Gabon at the Stade d'Angondjé (Libreville). The Orange Africa Cup of Nations puts 16 African countries together in one competition and this is the 28th edition of this prestigious competition.

The Africa Cup of Nations 2012 is hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, two neighbouring countries in Western Africa. The Final of the competition, scheduled for the 12th February 2012, will be played at the Stade d'Angondjé (Libreville) in Gabon. The joint bid from Equatorial Guinea and Gabon beat off competition from Angola, Libya, and Nigeria for the hosting rights of the prestigious African competition which is held every two years. However next year will be an exception as in 2013 there will also be an Africa Cup of Nations, to be hosted by South Africa. This is due to a decision by the Confederation of African Football to move the competition to odd years in order not to clash with the World Cup. From 2013 onwards, it will be held every two years again, with Morocco hosting in 2015 and Libya in 2017.

For sponsorship reasons, this year's competition is known as the Orange Africa Cup of Nations. The competition kicked off on the 21st January with Equatorial Guinea playing the first match of the competition against Libya, which Equatorial Guinea won in final minutes of the game. 16 teams participated in the 2012 event, and these were Zambia, Equatorial Guinea, Libya and Senegal in Group A, Ivory Coast, Sudan, Angola and Burkina Faso in Group B, Gabon, Tunisia, Morocco and Niger in Group C, and finally Ghana, Mali, Guinea and Botswana in Group D. Zambia and Equatorial Guinea qualified from Group A, Ivory Coast and Sudan from Group B, Gabon and Tunisia from Group C, and Ghana and Mali from Group D. The quarter finals are played on the 4th and 5th February in all four stadiums hosting games in this year's competition.

The fixtures for the quarter-finals are Zambia vs Sudan (Stadium: Bata) and Ivory Coast vs Equatorial Guinea (Stadium: Malabo) on the 4th February, and Ghana vs Tunisia (Stadium: Franceville) and Gabon vs Mali (Stadium: Libreville/Stade d'Angondjé) on the 5th February. The pairing of these quarter-finals ahead of the 8th February Semi-finals means that a Final between hosts Gabon and Equatorial Guinea is not possible, as the two can only meet in the semi-final if they go through their respective Quarter-final match.

Two of the stadiums are located in Gabon and another two in Equatorial Guinea. Equatorial Guinea is made up of two parts, one being on the main African continent neighbouring Gabon, and another part being an island towards the north of the Equatorial Guinean coast. The capital city of the country, Malabo, is situated on this island and one of the stadiums, the Nuevo Estadio de Malabo can be found in Malabo. It has a capacity of 15250, which is less than half the capacity of the other stadium in the country, the Estadio de Bata. Bata can be found on the African continent part of the country, and it has a capacity of 37500.

The smallest out of the two Gabonese stadiums hosting matches in the Africa Nations Cup is the Stade de Franceville, which has a capacity of 35000 fans, 5000 less than the Stade d'Angondjé (Libreville) which is to host the Final of the tournament. Neither Gabon nor Equatorial Guinea has ever won the prestigious African competition. In fact, it is Equatorial Guinea's first appearance in the Africa Cup of Nations, and it qualified for this event directly as host, not through a qualification group. Gabon was more successful as it appeared 5 times in the competition, including the 2012 event, and its best performance came in 1996 when it reached the quarter-finals. Gabon has matched this feat this year as the team faces Mali in the quarter-finals.

The ball used in this competition is supplied by Adidas and is called Comoequa. The name can be divided in two: 'como' which is inspired by the River of Como running through both hosting countries, and 'equa' inspired by the Equator uniting the countries. This year's Africa Cup of Nations is the 28th edition of the competition.

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