Africa Cup of Nations Group A Preview: Hosts in turmoil on eve of tournament

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Equatorial Guinea saved the day by stepping in as hosts of the Africa Cup of Nations, but their preparations have been far from ideal.

Morocco pulled out as hosts of the 2015 edition of the tournament due to fears surrounding the Ebola epidemic. 

Equatorial Guinea agreed to stage this year's AFCON in Morocco's stead, but changed coach with the competition just days away.

Andoni Goikoetxea was fired after he failed to arrive at the team's training camp in Portugal and he has been replaced by the women's national team coach Esteban Becker.

And inexperienced Argentinian Becker has his work cut out to match Equatorial Guinea's AFCON 2012 run to the quarter-finals.

The favourites – Congo, Gabon

Congo have Frenchman Claude Le Roy at the helm and will be hoping his impressive record in seven previous AFCON competitions will provide them with the experience they need to go deep into the tournament.

Le Roy has only failed to take his team to the last eight once. 

Congo last won the tournament in 1972 but will be confident of at least progressing from a relatively weak Group A after impressing in a tough qualifying pool that also included South Africa, Sudan and Nigeria.

Meanwhile, Gabon qualified from a tough group including Burkina Faso, Angola and Lesotho, and will hope to at least match their run to the quarter-finals in 2012.

The outsiders - Equatorial Guinea, Burkina Faso

Equatorial Guinea's managerial disarray makes their task even harder, despite the fact they will enjoy home advantage. 

Burkina Faso managed a fairytale run to the final in the 2012 AFCON where they were finally beaten by Nigeria. 

But they find themselves in a pool that contains their qualifying group conquerors Gabon and a Congo side under the stewardship of the wily AFCON fox Le Roy. 

Despite almost qualifying for the World Cup Finals in Brazil and their 2012 AFCON heroics, this tournament may prove a bridge too far for Burkina.

Star Player - Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon)

Lightning-quick forward Aubameyang has performed well since moving to Borussia Dortmund in 2013 and he is the undoubted star of Gabon's team.

Aubameyang scored both of his nation's goals in their 2-0 win over Burkina Faso during qualifying and will undoubtedly be a handful for defenders throughout the tournament.

Crunch match - Gabon v Congo

January 21's clash between the favourites to progress from Group A is likely to decide who wins the pool and therefore takes on the runners-up from Group B. 

Matches

17 January 2015 - Equatorial Guinea v Congo, Bata / Burkina Faso v Gabon, Bata
21 January 2015 - Equatorial Guinea v Burkina Faso, Bata / Gabon v Congo, Bata
25 January 2015 - Gabon v Equatorial Guinea, Bata / Congo v Burkina Faso, Ebebiyin