A festival of football – The Africa Cup of Nations is the third biggest football tournament on the planet after the World Cup and European Championships. Played every two years, it is always a colorful, noisy affair as the continent expresses its love for the beautiful game.
The jewel of Africa – The 2012 event, co-hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, starts on Saturday as 16 teams begin the battle to be crowned the continent's soccer kings. But Egypt, who won the last three tournaments, will not be present after failing to qualify.
Ready to go – Four stadiums will host the matches, including this one in the Gabonese capital Libreville, where the final will be held on February 12. Gabon's other games will be played in Franceville, while Equatorial Guinea's fixtures are to be staged in the cities of Bata and Mataba.
Beware of the Drog – The improvement in the quality of African soccer over the past few decades is underlined by the number of global superstars participating in the tournament. Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba, who plays for English Premier League club Chelsea, is an iconic figure in Africa and is also a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations.
Eto'o no go – But another of the continent's biggest stars, four-time African footballer of the year Samuel Eto'o, will not be at the tournament after Cameroon failed to qualify.
Togo tragedy – The 2010 Africa Cup of Nations was overshadowed when Togo's team bus came under attack by a gang wielding machine guns. Three of Togo's party were killed and the team's reserve goalkeeper was seriously injured. The Sparrow Hawks withdrew from the tournament and were banned from the next two competitions until world ruling body FIFA intervened and overturned the ruling.