JOHANNESBURG (AFP) – Title favourites Algeria have named a final squad for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea while Group C rivals Ghana and South Africa are undecided.
New Ghana coach Avram Grant, who guided Chelsea in the 2008 Champions League final loss on penalties to Manchester United, chose a 31-man provisional squad.
And South Africa counterpart, Ephraim ‘Shakes’ Mashaba, called up 34 players for a post-Christmas Johannesburg training camp.
Cape Verde Islands, Gabon and Mali have also picked final squads for the biennial 16-nation African football showpiece at Equatoguinean venues Bata, Ebebiyin, Malabo and Mongomo.
Other contenders to select provisional squads of varying numbers include Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Congo Brazzaville, Senegal, Tunisia and Zambia.
Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea and Ivory Coast have yet to reveal their hands ahead of a January 7 deadline for final player lists.
France-born Algeria coach Christian Gourcuff included 18 of the 23 players who went to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and took the North African country to the knockout stage for the first time.
The Desert Foxes bowed out in the second round after forcing eventual champions Germany into extra-time before suffering a 2-1 defeat.
Newcomers are goalkeeper Izzeddine Doukha, defender Mehdi Zeffane, midfielders Mehdi Abeid and Foued Kadir, and striker Ishak Belfodil.
They replace Cedric Si Mohamed, Liassine Cadamuro, Nabil Ghilas, Mehdi Mostefa and Hassan Yebda for a competition Algeria won in 1990 as hosts.
Their good World Cup showing lifted Algeria to No1 on the African rankings, and a five-match winning streak in the 2015 qualifiers has confirmed the Foxes as favourites.
Grant omitted Kevin-Prince Boateng and Sulley Muntari, who were kicked out of the World Cup squad in Brazil, after initially hinting that he might recall the midfielders.