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Africa's big show begins Sunday
January 8th, 2010 7AM

TAGS:  african nations cup, soccer business


[BY THE NUMBERS] After the European Championship and Copa America, the Africa Cup of Nations is the most closely closed followed continental championship, at least in terms of media interest. The presence of World Cup finalists Algeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Nigeria gives the 2010 edition, which begins Sunday in Angola, particular significance. The participation of such international stars as Inter Milan's Samuel Eto'o (Cameroon) and Chelsea's Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast) doesn't hurt. For a look at Angola '10 by the numbers ...

The only former MLS player at the Africa Cup of Nations is Mali's Bakary Soumare, who joined French club Boulogne from the Chicago Fire in 2009.

Five World Cup finalists are in Angola. Besides Algeria, which will face the United States in group play, Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Nigeria are at the Africa Cup of Nations. Only World Cup host South Africa did not qualify for Angola '10.

France is well represented at the Africa Cup of Nations with five French coaches in charge of national teams. The best known is Gabon's Alain Giresse, the former midfield star of the great Bleus teams of the 1980s. The others are Hubert Velud (Togo), Michel Dussuyer (Benin), Paul Le Guen (Cameroon) and Herve Renard (Zambia)

Egypt, winner of the last two tournaments, has won the most titles with six Africa Cup of Nations championships.

France's Nice leads all European teams with eight players away on international duty at the Africa Cup of Nations. Beleaguered English club Portsmouth is next with six players in Angola.

Puma leads all manufacturers as the sponsor of nine of the 16 African finalists: World Cup teams Ghana, Cameroon, Ivory Coast and Algeria as well as host Angola and Egypt, Mozambique, Togo and Tunisia.

Burkina Faso is the most multi-national team with players representing clubs from 13 countries: France and Germany  with four players, Portugal with three, Egypt and Burkina Faso with two, Azerbaijan, Belgium, China, Libya, Moldova, Qatar, Romania and Russia one apiece.

Both Cameroon and Nigeria both have 23-player rosters that consist entirely of foreign-based players.

France leads all nations with 38 players from 17 at the African championships.

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