Zambia face a difficult road to repeating as Africa Cup of Nations champions, while hosts South Africa have been given a fairly straightforward route into the semifinals of the 2013 tournament if they can finally get their talented players to perform to their potential.
The draw for the tournament was made in Durban on Thursday, with each team seeded based on their performance in the previous three editions of the tournament. South Africa were automatically placed in Group A and Zambia in Group C, to avoid a possible quarterfinal match between the hosts and the defending champions. Cape Verde, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ethiopia, who had no points in the last three tournaments, were automatically placed in Pot 4, along with Togo.
South Africa's biggest opposition in Group A will be Morocco, who disappointed at the last edition of the tournament. Cape Verde have steadily improved over recent years and will not be a walkover team, while Angola generally turn in decent showings at the Cup of Nations.
Ghana headline Group B, and they're heavy favorites to win the group. Mali will be favored to go through over Niger and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In Group C, Zambia, Nigeria and Burkina Faso will probably wage a three-way battle for two knockout stage spots, while Ethiopia faces a serious uphill battle to avoid three losses.
The Ivory Coast's aging golden generation is favored to win a loaded Group D, where any of the other three teams could potentially advance. Tunisia will be expected to go through, but Algeria and Togo certainly have the talent to challenge them.
Democratic Republic of the Congo