CAPE TOWN, South Africa - For the first time in a long time, Ivory Coast isnt the pre-tournament favourite to win the African Cup of Nations. Swingman Tracy McGrady Jersey
.Instead, Algeria is expected to win its first title since 1990 after being the continents best performer at last years World Cup.Ivory Coast — now without Didier Drogba — still cant be written off, and Cameroon made a rapid recovery after a terrible World Cup to be surprisingly impressive in qualifying.Here are some teams to watch out for at the 16-team African Cup in Equatorial Guinea, which starts this weekend:___ALGERIAAlgeria took eventual champion Germany to extra time in the last 16 at the World Cup in Brazil, and won its first five games in qualifying for the Cup of Nations to underline its top ranking in Africa. A change in coach after the World Cup, when Christian Gourcuff replaced Vahid Halilhodzic, didnt affect the momentum.Algerias lightning-fast attacking game is based around the skilful trio of Yacine Brahimi, Sofiane Feghouli and Islam Slimani. To prove themselves, the Algerians must first deal with being drawn in the tournaments toughest group with Ghana, Senegal and South Africa.___IVORY COASTIvory Coast goes to the African championship without retired striker Didier Drogba for the first time since 2002. So, more pressure falls on Manchester City midfielder and African player of the year Yaya Toure, who hasnt always lived up to his big reputation at the African Cup.Ivory Coasts inability to win the title since its sole success in 1992 is becoming increasingly painful for a country rich in talent.This time, the campaign will be directed by flamboyant French coach Herve Renard, who does know what it takes to lift the African Cup. He won as coach of unfancied Zambia in 2012, beating Ivory Coast in the final.On the field, Toure will also be supported by in-form forwards Wilfried Bony and Gervinho.___CAMEROONCameroons miserable World Cup was immediately shrugged off as the four-time African champions emerged as a dangerous force again late last year. Cameroons threat was epitomized by a powerful 4-1 qualifying win over Ivory Coast, which is in Cameroons group again at the final tournament.Like Drogba, Cameroons leading striker, Samuel Etoo, retired from international soccer after the World Cup. But a new goal-scoring threat has emerged in Vincent Aboubakar, and that may foster a more balanced team after Etoo was so often the focus.Cameroon supporters just hope the player bonus saga that spoiled their World Cup doesnt play out again at the African Cup.___TUNISIAThe only other North African team at the tournament, Tunisia might fly under the radar as Algeria gets all the attention.Solid in qualifying to win a tough group containing Senegal and Egypt, Tunisia has quietly moved up to No. 2 in the continental rankings. The players and Belgian coach Georges Leekens can also be positive about being picked in a group with Zambia, Cape Verde and Congo, simpler than the early challenges awaiting Algeria, Ivory Coast and Cameroon.___SOUTH AFRICASouth Africa is perhaps the most positive it has been about the African Cup since it won in 1996 and made the final in 1998. Since then, Bafana Bafana has slid down the African football pecking order, and hasnt got past the quarterfinals in 15 years.Coach Ephraim Mashaba breathed new life into the team when he took over last year, and South Africa was unbeaten and eliminated defending champion Nigeria in qualifying.___CAPE VERDEEvery tournament needs an underdog and Cape Verde might be the big surprise of the African Cup — again.In its debut in 2013, the small Atlantic Ocean island nation made the quarterfinals ahead of Morocco, and gave Ghana a scare in the knockout stage.That breakthrough wasnt wasted and Cape Verde was the first team to guarantee its place at the 2015 tournament in Equatorial Guinea. Surprisingly, the team from a country of just 500,000 people is ranked No. 7 in Africa and in the top 40 in the world, above Cameroon, Nigeria and South Africa.___Gerald Imray is on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GeraldImrayAP Tracy McGrady Jersey
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. -- Kevin Durant insists he and Russell Westbrook arent turning their first-round series into a two-man show, even if the NBA scoring champ says they may be shooting too much.(SportsNetwork.com) - One team will be getting a superstar back and another will still be without one Friday night when the New York Knicks visit Chesapeake Energy Arena to face the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder will get at least one integral part back on Friday. All-Star guard Russell Westbrook will return to play versus the Knicks. He practiced all week after a broken hand has sidelined him for close to a month. It feels great. I am rested, happy to be back and to go out and try to get a win, said Westbrook. Reigning MVP Kevin Durant also participated in practice this week, although hes not expected back until next week. This week, I dont know what day, theyll get evaluated and well go from there, head coach Scott Brooks told the Oklahoman. Theyll continue to go through this process and when theyre ready -- 100 percent ready -- theyll play. The third superstar surrounding these two teams is most likely out on Friday. Carmelo Anthony injured his back Monday night and missed Wednesdays overtime loss to the Dallas Mavericks. I dont think it will be too long, Anthony told the New York Post. I think the spasms will go away. But Im not going to play with spasms. Against Dallas, New Yorks J.R. Smith hit a jumper with less than a second remaining in regulation to force overtime. The Mavs won the extra session, 14-7, and earned a 109-102 victory. Dallas used a 9-0 run and forced six Knicks turnovers to pull away in thhe extra session. Swingman James Harden Jersey
. We made some mistakes down the stretch you cant make on the road, Knicks coach Derek Fisher said. Jose Calderon tallied 21 points, 10 boards and four assists for New York, which has dropped four of its last five games. Samuel Dalembert registered a double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds. Smith finished with 15, Pablo Prigioni netted 12 and Amare Stoudemire chipped in 10. Fisher played 125 games with the Thunder, including all of last season. The Knicks return home Sunday to face the Miami Heat and will play three straight in Madison Square Garden. Reggie Jackson poured in 22 points and Jeremy Lamb scored 21 off the bench in Oklahoma Citys 97-82 home rout of the Utah Jazz Wednesday night. Serge Ibaka registered 20 points, eight rebounds and four blocks for the Thunder, who snapped a six-game losing streak and gained just their fourth win in 16 tries this season. It was a good team win, said Brooks. Weve been close so many times and I told the guys we have a lot of things to be thankful for this week. Anthony Morrow was the only other Thunder player in double figures with 12. The OKC bench outscored Utahs second unit, 44-3. The Thunder head out on a three-game road trip, starting Tuesday in New Orleans. The Thunder swept both meetings last season and are 11-3 in their last 14 against the Knicks. OKC has taken six of the last seven home matchups with New York. Cheap NFL Jerseys Wholesale Jerseys Wholesale NFL Jerseys Jerseys From China Wholesale NFL Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys Cheap Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys China
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