Equatorial Guinea v Libya preview
Co-hosts hoping to start tournament on a winning note
Last Updated: January 21, 2012 1:01pm
Paqueta: Looking to spoil hosts' party
Co-hosts Equatorial Guinea will look to kick off the Group A clash on a winning note against Libya on Saturday evening in Bata.
Nzalang Nacional, as they are affectionately known by the locals, have failed to progress beyond the qualifying rounds in their previous AFCON appearances.
Gilson Paulo's men will, however, have taken heart from their goalless draw with tournament absentees South Africa in a friendly warm-up match several weeks back.
With an exuberant home crowd behind them, the African minnows could spring a surprise on their more fancied opponents, Libya.
The Mediterranean Knights will be carrying the weight of a war-ravaged country upon their shoulders heading into the knockout competition.
Yet, Libya coach Marcos Paqueta believes his side understand the importance of pulling off a victory in their opening game.
"The key to qualifying (for the knockout phase) is the first match. If you lose the first match, then you have to take risks in the second matches and this could backfire. The first game is therefore the key one if we are to qualify," he told Super Sport.
Both sides will know that a win on Saturday will stand them in good stead when they face Senegal and Zambia in the remaining group encounters.
In team news, Paulo will rely heavily on his Spanish-based contingent with Equatoguinean heritage who've recently bolstered his squad, namely Deportivo La Coruna playmaker Rodolfo Bodipo.
Paqueta, meanwhile, will look to Djamal Abdallah to provide the spark in midfield for the Knights.
Africa Cup of Nations Group A
Africa Cup of Nations Group B
Africa Cup of Nations Group C
Africa Cup of Nations Group D