Compiled by Piers Edwards
TUNISIA FACT FILE
Nickname: The Carthage Eagles
Coach: Roger Lemerre
Captain: Radhi Jaidi
Nations Cup record: Winners 2004; Qualified 13 times
Tunisia have had a fine Nations Cup record since the mid-1990s.
In the last six tournaments, the North Africans have reached two finals - winning the 2004 edition at home - as well as a semi-final and two quarters.
Yet the Carthage Eagles' last appearance in West Africa was a disaster as they flew home from Mali 2002 after the group stages, without scoring a single goal as they failed to adapt to the conditions.
There are those in Tunisia who fear a repeat performance.
Despite using home advantage to win the country's first Nations Cup title in 2004, coach Roger Lemerre is deeply unpopular amongst many Tunisians now - often whistled while attending local matches and mistrusted by the press following his constant squad changes.
The 2-1 home defeat by Zambia on 6 January typified the Frenchman's relationship with the fans, who booed him throughout.
Having led his homeland to European glory in 2000, Lemerre's France were awful at the 2002 World Cup - and history could easily repeat itself for a coach whose five-and-half-year reign looks set to end.
Public optimism is not high as a new generation begins to replace stars such as Hatem Trabelsi and former captain Riadh Bouazizi.
Hamed Namouchi and Ali Zitouni also miss out through injury, but defender Radhi Jaidi is back following a U-turn on his decision to quit the Eagles after the 2006 World Cup.
While the national team may be underperforming, only reaching Ghana as a best runner-up, Tunisia's clubs are flying.
Eight players from African champions Etoile du Sahel will be in Tamale but there is no representative from Confederation Cup winners CS Sfaxien.
Key players: Jawhar Mnari, the Germany-based midfielder who scored against Spain at the 2006 World Cup, has assumed increasing importance in recent years.
Amine Chermiti could be Tunisia's striker-to-watch in Ghana
Lemerre will rely upon his tactical intelligence to keep things tight in midfield and dictate the tempo of the game.
Francileudo Dos Santos, scorer of four goals during the 2004 triumph, has not been the same since a shin injury in 2006, so Tunisia will look to the lively Amine Chermiti for goals.
The 20-year-old striker netted eight times during Etoile's Champions League success.
Verdict: Tunisia's recent Nations Cup history makes them likely qualifiers but they might just find their Group D opponents too hot to handle.
A competition too far for coach Roger Lemerre - and Ghana 2008 could mark the beginning of serious change for the Carthage Eagles.
SENEGAL FACT FILE
Nickname: The Teranga Lions
Coach: Henri Kasperczak
Captain: El Hadji Diouf
Nations Cup record: Runners-up 2002; Qualified 11 times
Senegal have never won the Nations Cup but as a generation of players nears the end of its cycle, the Senegalese public believes it is now or never for the Teranga Lions - especially since this year's tournament is based in West Africa.
Senegal's recent Nations Cup form has been impressive - semi-finalists in Egypt 2006, quarter-finalists in 2004 and finalists in 2002.
So while there may be no doubting the players' experience or abilities, all that remains is to land the big one.
With an abundance of riches in attack, the Lions are entertaining to watch.
Captain El Hadji Diouf leads the way, supported by in-form Marseille striker Mamadou Niang and Senegal's record scorer Henri Camara.
Backing them up is the country's new wave of talent, with a third of the squad making their Nations Cup bow in Ghana.
Coach Henri Kasperczak's main problems are a lack of creativity in midfield and a defence that has looked increasingly brittle.
Senegal hope debutant Sonko will bring steel to a vulnerable defence
If new recruit Ibrahima Sonko and recent absentee Abdoulaye Faye can shore up the gaps, Senegal could go far for their record under 'Kaspi' is promising - winning six and losing just one of nine matches in 2007.
After repeatedly going close to winning the trophy, most notably when leading Group D opponents Tunisia to the 1996 final, Kasperczak is desperate to win his first Nations Cup.
One factor in his favour is that Group D's sole West Africans should handle the hot conditions in Tamale better than their rivals.
The 2002 World Cup quarter-finalists also have vengeance on their minds - particularly against Tunisia whose match-winning goal four years ago, which was clouded in controversy, has not been forgotten.
Key players: El Hadji Diouf has long been Senegal's talisman and the captain led by example when sorting out unpaid bonuses and salaries in October.
Diouf will be a talisman for Senegal once again at the Nations Cup
The skilful Bolton star threatened to quit the Teranga Lions unless such issues were addressed but his unconventional methods worked - so earning him respect from the less privileged players in the squad.
While all Senegal is hoping Mamadou Niang can replicate his blistering club form at Marseille, fans will also be looking to midfielder Bayal Sall to hold the Senegalese midfield together.
The 22-year-old has been earning rave reviews for another French side, St Etienne, this season.
Verdict: Senegal are strong enough to emerge from their group, so the quarter-finals will decide their fate.
Should they face either Egypt or Cameroon, revenge will be uppermost in their minds - having been beaten in the 2002 final by the Indomitable Lions while the Pharaohs knocked them out in the 2006 semi-finals, thanks to a dubious penalty.
SOUTH AFRICA FACT FILE
Nickname: Bafana Bafana
Coach: Carlos Alberto Parreira
Captain: Aaron Mokoena
Nations Cup record: Winners 1996; Qualified 7 times
A team that has gone backwards in the Nations Cup since winning in 1996 is now under the canny tutelage of Brazilian Carlos Alberto Parreira.
Yet the man who led his home nation to 1994 World Cup success has his work cut out as he looks to build a respectable team ahead of South Africa's staging of the 2010 World Cup.
Bafana Bafana's limitations are there for all to see, especially since they only qualified for Ghana as one of the best runners-up - finishing behind Zambia, who won 3-1 in Cape Town on the last day of qualifying.
Despite the team's tally of one goal in five matches late last year, Parreira surprisingly omitted Benni McCarthy from his squad.
The Brazilian lured the 30-year-old out of retirement but then overlooked a striker who became South Africa's joint-highest scorer on his return.
Carlos Alberto Parreira has made some surprising squad decisions
The coach has refused to reveal the reasons for his bizarre decision - and other prominent players, such as midfielder Delron Buckley and Macbeth Sibya, may also be wondering why they did not make a squad captained by the evergreen Aaron Mokoena.
Parreira will be looking forward to returning to Ghana, where he coached in the late 1960s, as will those South Africans who remember the 2000 Nations Cup - when Bafana Bafana topped their group in style before knocking out their Ghanaian hosts in the quarter-finals.
They finished third that year, but then suffered first-round failures in both 2004 and 2006 - the latter particularly lamentable as the team failed to score a goal or a point.
Will fans tolerate a repeat display as long as youngsters gain invaluable experience ahead of 2010?
Key players: Steven Pienaar has been the subject of a tug-of-war between South Africa and English club Everton, which revealed his worth to both teams.
Steven Pienaar is in the form of his life ahead of Ghana-based event
The creative midfielder, 25, is playing his best football since his early European years with Dutch side Ajax.
While Mokoena will shoulder defensives responsibilities, Sibusiso Zuma must improve on previous Nations Cups showings in McCarthy's absence.
The striker has netted just once in three finals, so fans will be hoping fellow forward Excellent Walaza lives up to his name.
Verdict: The West African air has previously suited Bafana Bafana, who have always reached the knock-out stages at Nations Cups in the region - but that quirk may end this time.
Once feared in Africa following their return to international football in the 1990s, South Africa are now continental lightweights.
Following their group exit ignominy, prepare for 'building for 2010' to become Parreira's favourite quote.
ANGOLA FACT FILE
Nickname: The Palancas Negras
Coach: Luis Oliveira Goncalves
Captain: Paulo Figueiredo
Nations Cup record: Qualified 4 times
The Palancas Negras have never progressed past the Nations Cup group stages.
Until Egypt 2006, they had never won a game at the finals so reaching the knock-outs must now be their aim - especially since they are hosting the 2010 tournament.
This is one remaining challenge for long-serving coach Luis Oliveira Goncalves, who has ushered in Angola's most successful era.
He not only led the Under-20 side to African youth glory in 2001, but then steered the Palancas Negras to a surprise 2006 World Cup appearance.
With age having overtaken forward Akwa, midfielder Paulo Figueiredo has assumed the captaincy but these finals are likely to be the 35-year-old's last.
Goncalves has also introduced youngsters as he prepares for 2010, making his squad a good blend of youth and experience.
Luis Oliveira Goncalves has nurtured a side that is growing in stature
Angola's creditable World Cup performance, where the unfancied side lost just one of three group games, has given greater belief and targets to those who travelled there.
That said, three players who missed Germany are making important returns at a major finals.
Defender Yamba Asha comes back after serving a nine-month ban for doping offences, while Maurito and Gilberto are now back from injury.
The trio assisted in Angola's coast through qualifying, where they racked up 16 goals in their six matches.
Angola were admittedly humbled when losing their final qualifier in Kenya, but their place in Ghana had already been booked.
The team has since struggled for consistency - defeating Ivory Coast 2-1 but then losing 3-0 to Guinea and 2-0 to the Canary Islands.
Flavio scored Angola's only goal in the 2006 World Cup in Germany
Key players: Striker Manucho Goncalves signed for Manchester United in December after impressing Sir Alex Ferguson with his speed, agility and height during a trial.
The 24-year-old, top scorer in the Angolan league for the last two seasons, has netted twice in 10 internationals.
Alongside Manucho, Al Ahly star Flavio will hope to continue where he left off from Egypt 2006.
The 28-year-old netted three times in three games, before then going on to score Angola's only goal in that year's World Cup.
Verdict: Like South Africa, Angola are also staging an important competition in 2010 - namely, the Africa Cup of Nations.
But the Palancas Negras seems better balanced en-route to hosting Africa's finest.
At their fourth finals, and having laid to rest the burden of winning a match in Egypt, the time is right to reach the knock-out phase for the first time.