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Africa Cup of Nations Day 1 as it happened

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GROUP A: Equatorial Guinea 1-0 Libya (FT)

GROUP A: Senegal 1-2 Zambia (FT)

By Stephen Fottrell

2302: Thanks for being with us on a fascinating opening day. Join us again on Sunday for Ivory Coast v Sudan and Burkina Faso v Angola in Group B.

2256: An excellent win for Zambia as they go top of Group A, after earning a deserved win, with all their good work done in the first half with two early goals. Senegal will be very disappointed with that defeat, but they took a long time to get into the game, and when they did they failed to take some excellent chances. The Teranga Lions defence was also extremely poor. That's already a very interesting group indeed with two big upsets on the opening day, after co-hosts Equatorial Guinea beat Libya 1-0 earlier.

2252:FULL TIME! Senegal 1-2 Zambia.

2250: Herve Renard lets out a massive roar at his men from the sidelines, as he implores them to hang on to their lead. Senegal can't quite get through to tee up a final chance.

2246: The fizz has gone out of the Senegalese attack all of a sudden, though, as Zambia try to hang on.

2240: Zambia are not quite rattled but look tired as they try to hold onto their lead. Coach Herve Renard brings on Noah Sikombe Chibuta for goalscorer Emmanuel Mayuka, who has put in a good shift.

2236: The Senegalese men have finally got into the game and remembered that they have arguably the best strike-force in the competition. Traore's changes have made a real difference, as Senegal chase an equaliser now.

2233: And Senegal finally make that pressure pay, as substitute Dame Ndoye collects Guirane Ndaw's excellent ball and fires in a beautiful diagonal shot on the half volley past Kennedy Mweene. Great goal.

2231: GOAL! Senegal 1-2 Zambia. Dame Ndoye.

2230: That's three very good chances in a row that went abegging for Senegal there in quick succession. One of those days for the Teranga Lions? It is so far, at least.

2226: Last throw of the dice from Traore as he withdraws Moussa Sow and brings on Newcastle new boy Papiss Demba Cisse to join his new clubmate Demba Ba. And Cisse almost makes an immediate impact sending in a beautiful cross for Ba, who slams his header against the woodwork when it should have hit the net.

2222: More grimacing from Senegalese players, after Guirane Ndaw really should have scored from point blank range after a lovely floated ball into the area from Diame, closely followed by Demba Ba firing wide from just outside the six-yard area when he, too, should really have put it away.

2218: A text from Fofana, a Gambian in Delhi, supporting Senegal: "It's 0330 here and I am quite disappointed with Senegal's display after sitting up this late just to watch their game." You may not be alone there Fofana.

2215: The other Senegalese substitute Dame Ndoye wastes a good chance from a free kick in a promising position. But then so too does Zambia's Nathan Sinkala at the other end, as he finds himself in space at the edge of the boxe, but arrows it wide.

2212: Chance there for Senegal, though. Issiar Dia making an instant impact by cutting back in the box to Moussa Sow, who fires marginally wide.

2210: Senegal start sloppily again. Did no one in that dressing room listen to their coach? Zambia's changing room must have been a far happier place.

2206: Zambia fans sending in their thoughts thick and fast at the moment. Fair to say they are a happy lot thus far. "Flabbergasted," texts an anonymous Zambian fan. "Overrated Lions vs gleeful underrated copper bullets. Go Zambia!"

2202: And we're underway again in Bata and Senegal have made another change, with Issiar Dia on for Mamadou Niang. Traore shuffling his pack again - will it make a difference Senegal fans?

2200: Bigsam in Nigeria texts: "Senegal would be mistaken to think that just having Ba in their team would win this for them. This is Africa, every winner works his socks off." Indeed, Bigsam. Keep those texts coming by the way.

2156: Half-time snapshot from the BBC's Matthew Kenyon inside the Estadio de Bata: "Senegal look stunned but Zambia have clearly been the better side and fully deserve their lead. Good atmosphere with lots of home fans celebrating their win earlier."

2152: And the Chipolopolo go in at the break on a high after an excellent first half. Senegal need to get into this game as they were somehwere else completely in that first period.

2148: HALF TIME! Senegal 0-2 Zambia.

2147: Zambia goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene earns a bizarre and unnecessary yellow card for handling outside his box.

2145: Zambia are happy to pass their way around Senegal's half as Senegalese coach Traore looks on stoney-faced. Could be more changes to come before long.

2142: Senegal are looking extremely frustrated, as they can't seem to be able to pass their way through an extremely well-organised Zambian side.

2140: Zambia earn a free-kick at the edge of the box, which Kalaba skies high over the crossbar.

2138: Mamadou Niang and Ba are trying their best to combine and slip through the Zambian defence, which is looking solid so far, as the confidence that comes from such a great start surges through the Chipolopolo ranks.

2134: And great delight coming from the Zambian diaspora to that stunning double whammy. "Wow! What an early surprise from our boys. Go Chipolopolo," says David Masumba in California.

2132: And worried looking Senegalese coach Armand Traore takes swift action and replaces defender Remi Gomis with Copenhagen's Dame Ndoye.

2128: The Teranga Lions are desperately trying to feel their way back into this match, after two quick body-blows from a Zambian side who are well up for this one.

2122: GOAL! Senegal 0-2 Zambia. Rainford Kalaba beats the Senegal offside trap to double Zambia's lead right on the 20 minute mark as he's sent clear through and finishes coolly to put the Chipolopolo in early command of the game and put Senegal in real trouble.

2120: That should wake Senegal from their slumber, but Zambia are still imposing all the pressure. And Nathan Sinkala snatches a shot toward the far corner, which Senegal goalkeeper Bouna Condoul has to dive down to his right to parry away.


2115:GOAL! Senegal 0-1 Zambia. Emmanuel Mayuka punishes Senegal for their slow start and catches their defence napping as he finishes a looping ball in the box with a smart header.

2113: Demba Ba gets a first touch as Senegal venture forward for the first time after a bright opening few minutes from Zambia.

2110: Morris from Kenya lends his support to Zambia by text: "Go Zambia, show your talent. Ignore Premier League or European players, you're even better."

2105: Zambia are pressing early on and earn a corner, with captain Christopher Katongo snatching a shot well wide. Rainford Kalaba also showing off his turn of pace early on.

2102: The stadium has emptied out quite a bit after that first game, as the home fans go away very happy indeed, but we're underway.

2058: And Zambia's main team news is that midfielder Clifford Mulenga starts on the bench for the Chipolopolo.

2055: Now, Demba Ba cannot be in two places at once, but his club Newcastle United, must have wished he could, after they were thumped 5-2 by Fulham earlier. But Senegal are very grateful to have his services in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon, though, and Ba starts up front at the expense of his new Magpies team-mate Papiss Demba Cisse, as Senegal's coach Amara Traore is forced to leave out one of his strikers, with an embarrassment of rich attacking talent in his squad.


2048: Right, after that heart-pounding finish let's take a breath shall we, just a brief one mind, before we get to our second game of the opening day - Senegal v Zambia.

2042: Thank you Piers for guiding us through that opener and that's a great start for the co-hosts and a fitting opening goal of the tournament from Javier Balboa. And a bit of a result for Jonathon and Amdad too.

By Piers Edwards

2036: To the best of my knowledge, this is the first proposal we have had on the African football website - because it seems you're in luck Jonathan! Because Amdad says ... "Regardless of the score, I'll marry you Jonathon baby, love Amdad xxx". And who says the Nations Cup doesn't pull off surprises?

On this dramatic note, but one which has brought a smile to the face, of which there must be many in Equatorial Guinea, I hand over to Stephen Fottrell to take you through tonight's next clash. The mouth-watering chance to see Senegal's Teranga Lions in action.

2033: The 2012 Africa Cup of Nations has kicked off with a bang as Equatorial Guinea pull off a major shock by stunning Libya with that late Javier Balboa goal. One million dollars richer, the National Lightning squad has now ensured that they will take their qualification hopes to the final day. A perfect start for the Nations Cup debutants and a success greeted wildly by fans inside the Estadio de Bata. Jonathan Santigie (see 2001), I'm afraid you may have to wait a little longer!

2032: FULL TIME! Equatorial Guinea 1-0 Libya

2032: Into the sixth minute of added time.

2030: Al Sherif is booked for diving as he goes down far too easily in the box as Kamisoko comes to smother the danger. There was minimal contact and that was a deserved booking. Appalling play-acting from the substitute.

2028: By my reckoning, that goal is worth a million dollars. 90 seconds left and that's all that stands between Equatorial Guinea receiving the huge bonus offered them by the son of President Obiang Nguema.

2027: Three minutes added time at the end of the match. It's buzzing inside the Estadio de Bata.

2026: It's almost two for Equatorial Guinea as Ekanga shows his skills, curling another fine effort with the outside of his right boot against the crossbar with Aboud well beaten.

2025: Libya try to respond instantly as Djamal hits a sweet left-footed strike which Danilo does well top round the corner. All of a sudden, it's game on.

2023: GOAL!!!! Javier Balboa breaks the offside trap and curls a beauty into the top corner. Ekedo's slide-rule pass finds Balboa, a former Real Madrid player, in acres of space and just when the co-hosts' tournament seemed to be wobbling with Bodipo's injury, now it's right back on track.

2022: Daniel-Bladimir Ekedo comes on for Bodipo.

2020: This looks bad for Equatorial Guinea. Bodipo goes down with no one around him and clutches his left leg in real pain before being stretchered away. A doubt before the game, did he come back too early? And will we see him again this tournament? 'Bodipo looks devastated,' reports Matthew Kenyon from inside the stadium.

2019: Finally, it looks as though we might have a goal as Zuway finds some space ten yards out but he can't keep his shot on target.

2019: Libyan sub Suieuenei receives a yellow card for a wild challenge on fellow sub Ekanga.

2018: Sophia Aba Davies in Ghana is impressed by Libya, no matter what happens in the next 10 minutes. 'Whether Libyans progress to the knock-out stages or not, I am so proud of what they have done. It is a joy watching them but it will be more joyful when the Black Stars are playing.'

2016: Equatorial Guinea have found a second wind and are applying some late pressure. A lovely inside pass from Juvenal almost undoes the Libyan defence, who concede a corner, from which Libya captain Aboud goes down after being felled by his own player - and promptly wins the free-kick!!

2014: This game needs a spark. Have both teams settled for the point? Surely not when they have bigger tests to come - with Senegal and Zambia the stronger teams in Group A. Either way, one goal will surely win this now.

2011: The legs are tiring and regular Equatorial Guinea Rodolfo Bodipo - known as the 'King' in his homeland - comes on for Fidjeu. Seconds later, the Deportivo La Coruna striker is teed up on the edge of the box but his curling effort is straight at Aboud. Better football from the co-hosts though.

2009: Libya's Osman goes into the book for a untidy challenge. He can have few complaints. The resulting free-kick to Equatorial Guinea is hit superbly by Lawrence Doe - who puts everything behind his effort from 30 yards - only for Aboud to make a spectacular save. The best moment of the match arguably.

2007: Twenty minutes to go - time to see whose fitness is the stronger. Libya make their final change as Abubaker Suiueinei comes on for Mohamed Esnani.

2005: Equatorial Guinea's brightest moment of the half comes as Bodipo wriggles into the box before his pass eventually finds up Balboa, whose shot is well-blocked again by the Libyan defence as Berrish puts his body on the line. Better from the co-hosts, who make their first chance of the match as Cameroon-born Narcisse Ekanga comes on for Bolado.

2003: The change is finally made as former rebel fighter Walid El Khatroushi comes off and is replaced by Al Sherif, who plays for Al Madina back home (when there is a league, that is, with Libya's having stopped 10 months ago).

2001: This text has no name but it's worth posting nonetheless. 'If Libya somehow manage to win this, I promise to propose to my long term boyfriend Jonathan Santigie from London.' Jonathan, are you reading this?!

1955: El Khatroushi is stretchered off the pitch after going down with no one around him inside the Eq Guinea half. Libya coach Marcos Paqueta prepares to make his second change with Abdalah Al Sherif warming up on the touchline. El Khatroushi has impressed so far but says he's well enough to come back on, to the relief of some Mediterranean Knights fans no doubt.

1953: The sting has gone out of the game somewhat. Entering the hour mark and Libya are content to play their slow patient build-up. Ihab Albusaifi, the substitute who has just come on, has his first touch and it's an impressive one, firing a controlled volley at Danilo in the Eq Guinea goal from 25 yards. Libya enjoying the better of it at the moment.

1951: BREAKING TEAM NEWS. Papiss Demba Cisse misses out for Senegal as coach Amara Traore chooses Moussa Sow and Demba Ba to play up top along with national captain Mamadou Niang in a 4-3-3. James Chamanga will not start for Zambia.

1950: Fidjeu takes a diagonal cross very well on his chest and spins acrobatically before firing a volley well wide - bright play from the Eq Guinea forward nonetheless.

1945: The co-hosts - nicknamed the National Lightning by the way - start the half the brighter, with Juvenal fizzing a dangerous free-kick into the Libyan six-yard box. Aboud gathers but it was one of Juvenal's best set-piece deliveries so far.

1943: First chance of the half goes to El Khatroushi, who's been involved in many of Libya's best moments, but his shot is high, wide and handsome. Anis Bazza is worried about his team's chances: 'Defence looks shaky but some bright moments from the Libyan attackers, I can see this being very close but I think Eq Guinea will just edge this one.' Anis, where's the faith?!

1942: We are back underway in Bata as Equatorial Guinea kick off the second half. Are we going to get a winner in this game - and if so, who? Don't forget to text in your thoughts to +4477 86 202 008.

1941: The players are coming back out onto the pitch for the second half of this opening game in the 2012 Nations Cup. Still goalless at the break between co-hosts Equatorial Guinea and Libya.

1937: Half-time snapshot from the BBC's Matthew Kenyon inside the Estadio de Bata. 'More entertaining than I expected but not great quality, especially in front of goal. But the excitement level is huge, the atmosphere great and it's nice the football is finally underway.'

1935: Nana Darko, a Ghanaian based in Brussels, is 'optimistic that Ghana will move a step further from where they reached last two years'. Well, that would be champions then (!) after Ghana lost the 2010 final to Egypt.

1930: Mohammed Benkhalil from Bradford has texted in again. 'Game's looking quite even, Eq Guinea don't have the strongest squad but will have the inspiration from playing on home turf. Most of Libya's players haven't played in the Libyan league since March [when it was cancelled] but will have the inspiration coming from the civil war and revolution. Fingers are still crossed for a win.'

1924: A huge roar breaks out in Bata to greet what has been a promising first half from the co-hosts and a lively one for the neutral. Libya started the brighter, Equatorial Guinea had the better of the middle period and can count themselves unlucky not to have led after 16 minutes (see 1853), before the half ended with neither side on top.

1922: A minute's added time has been added on at the end of the first half.

1921: Libya's first corner of the match comes to nothing but Yusuf-Amin in East London is still a happy man: "I'm so proud to be Libyan tonight," he texts. "Who would've thought we'd be standing here at the Nations Cup just 12 months ago? Go Libya!" Fair play Yusuf-Amin, and your team appear to have weathered the storm. Moments away from half-time.

1919: Thierry Fidjeu comes into the action for the co-hosts, but his 30-yarder is ballooned over and never going to trouble Aboud. We've seen precious little so far of the Cameroonian-born Fidjeu, who adopted Equatorial Guinea nationality last year.

1917: Juvenal must think the headlines are already written as Balboa's cross drops to him invitingly on the edge of the box, but with time on his side the captain's half-volley flashes well wide of the Libyan goal. The shaven-haired skipper shakes his head in frustration as he trudges back to midfield.

1915: The game enters a quiet spell, although Libya's Zuway kicks air while attempting an ambitious bicycle kick while his colleague Aboubaker shows good skills as he tries to unlock the Equatorial Guinea defence down the left flank.

1911: Rob in Walsall is another one who's delighted to see the start of the Nations Cup. 'I'm looking forward to what's hopefully a fantastic cup - not minding who wins, just hoping these lads showcase the talent and that the Premier League clubs are watching and a new Drogba or Ba is found - boing boing!'

1909: Libya striker Ahmed Zuway has his first sight of goal, when a fine left-wing cross finds him on the penalty spot, but a man who looks to boast good aerial prowess cannot keep his header down.

1907: A rare Libyan break sees former front-line fighter El Khatroushi fire wide from 15 yards, after Ahmed Osman was denied by a superb last-ditch tackle.

1905: Papa Aki in Ghana wants 'to be in the midst of Libyans at Benghazi, where it all started for these gallant players representing their new nation. Happy for them but Ghana all the way to cling on to the cup.'

1903: Fousseny Kamisoko heads a yard wide from the resulting corner from Juvenal, but could have done better when in acres of space. It's all Equatorial Guinea at the moment, with the co-hosts having settled down nicely after a shaky start.

1902: Mohammed, a Libyan from Bradford in the United Kingdom, has texted in: "Against the odds Libya have qualified so I don't see why our inspiration and confidence can't carry us to the later stages of this tournament!" Confident stuff from Mohammed, but his team are wobbling a little in Bata. Second corner of the game to Equatorial Guinea.

1859: Equatorial Guinea break well again as Bolado feeds Randy, whose first-time cross from the left flank is into the danger area and smothered by a relieved Aboud in the Libya goal. At the midway point of the first half and the co-hosts have come back into it. Libya, meanwhile, look susceptible to the counter-attack.

1853: The first shot of the game comes in and Libya stopper Samir Aboud makes a mess of it as he tips Javier Balboa's long-range effort away from a corner. What follows beggars belief. Juvenal's strike from the edge of the box takes a deflection and hits the post. The ball comes back to Bolado whose side-footed effort is straight at Aboud, but the keeper dives over the ball, which trickles between his legs and over the line. As a defender scrambles it away, despite the ball being clearly over the line, his effort rebounds off an Equatorial Guinea player and into the goal again - but no goal is given as a forward has been adjudged to be offside in the build-up. A very questionable decision, and Aboud has got away with a howler.

1851: Equatorial Guinea almost score with their first attack as Randy bundles his way into the box before teeing up Ivan Bolado, whose close-range shot is well-blocked. Shortly after, Randy is through again but his cross drifts far too far away from Bolado. Better and brighter from the hosts though.

1847: Fine move from Libya, who look the stronger side already, as a series of first-time passes carves open the Equatorial Guinea defence but Rabea Aboubaker cannot capitalise at the end of it. Moments later, the co-hosts go up the other end as they reach the final third for the first time, only for a cross to be hit far too strongly.

1845: Albert in Portsmouth, UK, is another Ghanaian to get in touch. "Ghana All the Way! I think the world can bet on Ghana to win the Nations' Cup this time. Go Go Ghana!"

1844: El-Khatroushi is almost in on goal as he played through from midfield and as he looks to burst past the Equatorial Guinea backline, Rui Da Gracia times his interception to perfection a yard or so in the box and the danger is cleared. Not even a half-chance, but a step in the right direction...

1840: A quiet start on the pitch, despite the roars from the crowd for any positive Equatorial Guinea play, with no chances so far. In the dug-out, Libya's Brazilian coach Marcos Paqueta looks on - a man who more than earned his chance of coaching at the finals when he paid his own way to lead the team during qualifying - something he had to as revolutionary fighting decimated the country.

1837: Seven minutes late, the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations gets underway as Libya kick off the finals.

1836: Almost there...

1833: And now the Equatorial Guinea national anthem - the first time it has ever rung out at a Nations Cup finals venue. The crowd are in good voice as they sing along as well.

1831: The BBC's Matthew Kenyon reports that the players look as though they've had enough of the speeches, and the crowd looks similarly bored. Finally, it's time for the national anthems - and this is a proud moment for Libya as their new national anthem rings out. What on earth must football fans on the streets of Tripoli and Benghazi be thinking now? If you're following us online, do let us know and get in touch - by texting +44 7786 202 008.

1827: President Nguema shakes hands with both teams as the final stages of the build-up near their end.

1823: President Obiang Nguema welcomes one and all to the finals, and voices his desire for the tournament to pass in peace - a poignant reminder after the deaths of two members of the Togolese delegation took centre stage ahead of the opening game of the 2010 finals. Security will be tight, Nguema insists.

1822: Kwaku has got in touch again from Chicago - and I only use his text again as he brings up an interesting point - the question of who will finish top scorer at the tournament. 'I predict Asamoah Gyan will score the most goals,' he says, but do you agree? What about any of Senegal's top strikers, Didier Drogba or Marouane Chamakh, say? For the record, the bookmakers rate Drogba and Demba Ba as the most likely to finish on top, with the Ivorian rated at 5/1 and the Senegalese 6/1.

1820: The teams come out of the tunnel and into the arena, with Caf president Issa Hayatou and the President of Equatorial Guinea, Obiang Nguema, alongside them.

1819: The BBC's Matthew Kenyon, inside the Bata stadium, says the remnants of fireworks are disappearing as the smoke clears from the pitch. It's a full house, with a terrific atmosphere, and the players are in the tunnel. We are minutes away from a finals which will hopefully unveil a new generation of African stars. And if you want to have your say on that, the BBC will have blogs on the finals throughout the tournament.

1816: Sydney, a Zambian based in Sheffield here in the United Kingdom, texts in to rally his troops. 'Go chipolopolo - Zambia will win 2-1 tonight - show them how to keep the ball.'

1813: Meanwhile, out on the pitch in Bata, a huge inflatable version of the tournament mascot - Gagui - has been revealed, while fireworks light up the evening sky.

1810: There was almost drama before a ball had been kicked at these finals, with Libya reportedly having threatened to boycott the opening match of the tournament. Associated Press says the Libyans forced the Confederation of African Football to change its website after African football's ruling body failed to use the new Libyan flag adoped since the revolution. Team media officer Fathi Aborzeza says Caf replaced the old green flag with the new black, red and green one just hours ago, so enabling tonight's opening game to go ahead. Lest we forget, the Libyan players say they are out to represent a new nation and have new colours (red and white) as well as a new nickname - the Mediterranean Knights.

1805: Lest I forget, Desire Doue Noumandiez of Ivory Coast will referee this opening match of the tournament, with the second Group A game taking place later tonight when Amara Traore's highly-fancied Senegal enter the fray. So many questions about which of their forwards the coach will select - with Demba Ba, Papiss Demba Cisse, Moussa Sow and Souleymane Camara all battling to join captain Mamadou Niang, who top-scored for the Teranga Lions in qualifying.

1759: So the reaction to the team news. After all the controversy over their policy of fielding naturalised players, Equatorial Guinea will start with a handful in their first Nations Cup match - Danilo (Brazil), Kamisoko and Konate (both Ivorian), Fidjeu (Cameroon) and Doe (Liberia). Juvenal is confirmed as captain in the absence of regular skipper Rodolfo Bodipo while that greatest of rarities, an Equatoguinean who has played for Real Madrid, starts in the shape of Javier Balboa. Libya, meanwhile, are captained by veteran goalkeeper Samir Aboud, with Ahmed Zuway leading the line, while there is also a place for midfielder Walid El-Khatroushi, whose life over the last twelve months has been truly extraordinary - having given up football to join the anti-Gaddafi rebels on the frontline. Ultimately, they persuaded him to return to the national team, saying this was where he would be of most worth to Libya. Is the stage set for him to do something special tonight?

1756: Kwaku in Chicago has texted in to wish the Black Stars a good tournament. Good to see the first of many African fans following this tournament from wherever they may be in the world.

1753:Libya line-up. 01-Samir Aboud (captain), 02-Rabea Aboubaker, 03-Abdulaziz Berrish, 05-Younes Shibani, 06-Mohamed Esnani, 10-Ahmed Osman, 14-Ali Salama, 15-Marwan Ahmed, 17-Walid El-Khatroushi, 19-Ahmed Zuway, 23-Jamal Mohamed.

1749: The line-up for Equatorial Guinea, who are making their debut at the finals. 01-Danilo, 03-David Alvarez, 04-Rui Fernando Da Gracia, 05-Fousseny Kamisoko, 06-Juvenal Edjogo (captain), 08-Iban Iyanga, 10-Ivan Bolado, 11-Javier Balboa, 12-Thierry Fidjeu, 14-Ben-Esono Konate, 15-Lawrence Doe.

1747: Well, the Nations Cup is full of surprises - and here's one for me. The fact that I have a team sheet with three-quarters of an hour still to go prior to kick-off. Personal experience of many Nations Cup recalls the fight to get hold of the line-ups with about five minutes to go, so this is most welcome. Team news to follow...

1743: Bara has texted in from Freetown, Sierra Leone, but appears to be Senegalese by the looks of it. 'Go, go, go our Teranga Lions. Expectations are high? Just bring the cup home for the first time. You can do it.'

1736: The opening ceremony is underway in the Estadio de Bata, the Equatoguinean city on the African mainland which will host the opening game of the finals in less than an hour. It's a low-key affair according to the BBC's Matthew Kenyon inside the stadium, but organisers may welcome some calm after some chaotic scenes outside the stadium today. Tear gas was fired as supporters massed outside one of the gates to get in but there have been no reports of injuries and everything is calm now, our reporters say.

1732: As we build-up to the opening game, I want to hear all your thoughts on what you are expecting - and hoping for - from these finals. Are you going to miss the absence of the big guns or relish the opportunity to see new teams? And the big question, who are you tipping to go all the way? Will Ivory Coast's Elephants finally stand up and deliver? Or will Ghana's Black Stars win their first title since 1982? And what about the outsiders - are Senegal and Morocco the most likely to win it outside of the top two favourites?

1730 GMT: So here it is. The 2012 Africa Cup of Nations kicks off in an hour's time - with 14 teams joining co-hosts Equatorial Guinea and Gabon in the finals. Defending champions Egypt are conspicuous by their absence, as are Cameroon and Nigeria, so leaving the stage clear for some countries to make their debut - namely, Niger and Botswana in addition to co-hosts Equatorial Guinea.



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