AFCON Profile: Eq. Guinea
Last Updated: 18/01/12 10:19am
As a footballing nation Equatorial Guinea have barely cast even a shadow on the global stage
As a footballing nation Equatorial Guinea have barely cast even a shadow on the global stage, but considering their first match as a competitive team took place just over 36 years ago, the Central African minnows have indeed come quite far.
Nzalang Nacional, as they are affectionately known by the locals, first stepped into the international limelight in a friendly international away to China on 23 May 1975, although the occasion is not remembered in the country for the scoreline, a 6-2 victory to the hosts.
The country did not play another international match until 1985 when they entered the UDEAC Cup in December of that year. Their latest return to the world stage was greeted with a 5-0 thrashing at the hands of Congo.
However, they followed up that result with a credible 1-1 draw against the Central African Republic, and secured the same scoreline in the play-offs against Chad, only to lose 3-2 on penalties.
Fast forward to 2012, though, and the team ranked 150th by FIFA find themselves under the focus of not only the eyes of Africa, but of the entire world as they prepare to play co-host to the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations finals.
PREVIOUS AFCON INVOLVEMENTS:
Equatorial Guinea's previous involvements in the continental spectacular have all ended at the qualifying rounds. To be fair to the Nzalang Nacional, due to political and financial constraints, they have sat out or withdrawn from more installments of the African competition than they have entered.
However, this year their billing as hosts, alongside Gabon, guarantees them a place in the finals.
The recent influx of Spanish players with Equatoguinean heritage into the national side has added an exciting dimension to the country's sporting history. In fact, the majority of coach Gilson Paulo's squad that will contest the biennial showpiece all ply their trade in Spain, with Rodolfo Bopido, Boladom, Ivan Zarandona and Juvenal just some of the names playing football on the European stage.
ONE TO WATCH:
Deportivo La Coruna playmaker Rodolfo Bodipo is likely to lead Equatorial Guinea's attack at the tournament, with the national side skipper having honed his skills at Recreativo and Racing Santander prior to his move to Los Turcos in 2006.
The forward has, however, found himself playing in Spain's Segunda Division after joining Vaslui and then Elche on loan over the past two seasons.
FIFA Rank: 150
Coach: Gilson Paulo
Captain: Rodolfo Bodipo
Nickname: Nzalang Nacional
Best AFCON finish: N/A
Previous AFCON finish: N/A
Goalkeepers: Danilo, Felipe Ovono, Achille Pensy
Defenders: Evuy, Kily, Rui, Sipo, Lawrence Doe, Colin, Fousseny Kamissoko.
Midfielders: Juvenal, Narcisse Ekanga, Jean-Maxime Ndongo, Ben Konate, Rolan de la Cruz, Viera Ellong, Daniel Ekedo
Strikers: Randy, Bopido, Bolado, Balboa, Thierry Fidjeu, Fabiani