Ivory Coast, Burkino Faso, Ghana and Togo
Previous appearances in finals: 17
Best performance: Winners in 1992, runners-up in 2006
Vahid Halilhodzic, who took over at the start of the qualifiers in May 2008, has amassed a record of nine wins, nine draws and a single loss.
Bosnian-born Halilhodzic played for Yugoslavia at the 1982 World Cup and had a stellar playing career as a striker in France's Ligue 1 with Nantes and Paris St Germain. The 57-year-old is a former coach of several French clubs and Trabzonspor in Turkey.
Didier Drogba (Chelsea). Age: 31. Forward
With 40 goals in 60 internationals, Drogba has proved vital for his country as they have emerged as one of Africa's top teams over the last years. He led them to the final of the 2006 Nations Cup and two World Cup tournaments, although he missed half of the 2010 qualifiers through injury. At club level, he has won both league and cup honours in England with Chelsea since his signing from Olympique Marseille.
Salomon Kalou (Chelsea). Age: 24. Forward
As an exciting teenage talent with Feyenoord, Kalou was the subject of a lengthy, but ultimately unsuccessful, bid to win Dutch nationality before the 2006 World Cup. He eventually debuted for the Ivorians, where elder brother Bonaventure had previously been captain, and is now a regular alongside Drogba in attack.
Yaya Toure (Barcelona). Age: 26. Midfielder.
A massive physical presence in the centre of midfield, Toure took a circuitous route through clubs in five different countries before signing for European champions Barcelona two years ago. He has previously played club football in Belgium, Ukraine, Greece and France and shares a berth in the team with elder brother Kolo.
FIFA world ranking December 2009: 16th
Although overdependant on Drogba for inspiration, the Ivorians are arguably the strongest of the current African teams and will have high hopes of success in Angola.
The tournament also serves as a potentially positive portent before they go to the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa, where the have been drawn in a tough group with Brazil and Portugal.
Previous appearances in finals: 6
Best performance: Semi-finalists in 1998
Portuguese Paulo Duarte gave up his job at Le Mans to stay in charge of the African side at the Nations Cup.
He had sought to do the two jobs in tandem when signing for the French outfit at the start of the season but with the club struggling to stay out of the Ligue 1 relegation zone, he was given an ultimatum last month to choose between the two.
The 40-year-old played at Uniao Leiria in Portugal for most of his career and then became their coach in 2006.
Moumouni Dagano (Al Khor). Age: 29. Forward
Twelve goals in the qualifiers made Dagano the top marksman in the preliminary campaign, keeping up his reputation for mercurial form. In France, Dagano showed much potential at Guingamp but when he made the move up to Sochaux, failed to realise his promise and was eventually allowed to move to play in Qatar.
Jonathan Pitroipa (Hamburg SV). Age: 23. Midfielder
Pitroipa moved to Europe as a teenager to play at SC Freiburg, later catching the eye of Hamburg and making the step up to the Bundesliga. He has been a consistent performer at national team level too, playing in all of the 2010 qualifying matches.
Charles Kabore (Olympique Marseille). Age: 21. Midfielder.
Not a regular at club level with French giants Marseille, he is still regarded as a big talent for the future. He has been used in a right back role of late, although is much happier in the centre of the midfield. Marseille are set to offer him a contract extension as soon as he returns from Angola.
FIFA world ranking December 2009: 49th
The Burkinabe faded last year after a strong performance in 2008 when they were one of just four sides that managed to get through the first phase of the 2010 African World Cup qualifiers unbeaten.
Their dip is form has been exacerbated by a tough draw where they must get past one of either Ghana or the Ivory Coast, both 2010 World Cup finalists, to make the quarter-finals.
Previous appearances in finals: 16
Best performance: Winners in 1963, 1965, 1978 and 1982, runners-up in 1968, 1970 and 1992
Milan Rajevac was an unknown quantity when he took over as coach of the Black Stars, his appointment heavily criticised by Ghana's media.
It is his first coaching assignment outside his native Serbia where the 55-year-old previously worked at Red Star Belgrade and FK Vojvodina.
Ghana are hoping he will deliver the same as compatriot Ratomir Dujkovic, who took them past the first round of the 2006 World Cup finals on their debut appearance.
Michael Essien (Chelsea). Age: 26. Midfielder.
Essien's brute strength and seemingly endless stamina has made him a world-class player, mostly on the back of his performances with Chelsea. But for Ghana he adds an extra dimension with his versatility, having been called on frequently to play in defence as they have battled with an almost perpetual injury crisis. Essien is now an icon on his own continent, and carries Ghana's Nations Cup hopes on his broad shoulders.
Asamoah Gyan (Stade Rennes). Age: 24. Forward
Blighted by injury over the last two years, Gyan has finally been able to get some consistency in his game and been among the leading goal scorers in France's Ligue 1 this season. His tally of eight is his best haul since his first season in Europe when he played at Modena in Italy's Serie B.
Matthew Amoah (NAC Breda). Age: 29. Forward
Amoah has spent almost a decade in the Dutch league, punctuated by a spell at Germany's Borussia Dortmund where he had limited playing time and failed to score. Amoah was a member of the Ghana squad that played at the 2006 World Cup but before that spent several years in the international wilderness.
FIFA world ranking December 2009: 34th
Ghana will be among the favourites although are weakened by the decision to drop Sulley Muntari for disciplinary reasons, leave out captain Stephen Appiah for a second successive tournament and injuries to defender John Mensah and John Paintsil.
It means a bigger leadership role for Michael Essien, who has an exciting cast of youngsters around him for support.
Previous appearances in finals: 6
Best performance: First round
Frenchman Hubert Velud only took over as coach in October and has had two competitive matches in charge.
The 50-year-old was a goalkeeper during his career in France's lower leagues and his coaching career has also been confined to the lesser reaches of French professional football.
He won the third tier in 2002 with Clermont Foot.
Emmanuel Adebayor (Manchester City). Age: 25. Forward
The tall striker is the country's only genuine world-class player and his talent has carried the small west African nation to achievements way beyond their potential. Born to immigrant parents from Nigeria, Adebayor went to France aged 17 but his career was floundering at Monaco before he signed for London club Arsenal at the start of 2006.
Serge Gakpe (Monaco). Age: 22. Midfielder
Gakpe held out hopes of playing for France but finally agreed to overtures from Togo and debuted for the West Africans in October. It took several cajoling calls from Adebayor to convince him to throw in his international fortunes with Togo. Gakpe is proving an effective complement to the Manchester City striker when Togo are on the attack.
Alaixys Romao (Grenoble). Age: 25. Midfielder.
It has been a tough season for the defensive midfielder, given his club's nightmare start to the Ligue 1 campaign. A former French youth international, Romao is the busy engine room of the Togo side, though a little lightweight. He was a member of the squad that went to the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
FIFA world ranking December 2009: 71st
Togo were among football's elite when they reached the World Cup finals four years ago, but it has since proved an anomaly.
The country's limited playing resources mean they are always going to struggle through the qualifying campaigns and it was only because of the inexplicable collapse of Morocco in the group matches that Togo were able to sneak into the Nations Cup.
In a tough group in Cabinda, Togo are likely to keep up their unwanted record of never having progressed to the knockout phase.comments