Draws of the inaugural Cote d'Ivoire 2009 Caf African Nations Championship (CHAN) tournament takes place in the host city Abidjan on Friday.
CHAN is a new Caf competition for home-based national team players that will run in an odd year to its established bigger sister the Africa Cup of Nations.
8 teams including hosts Cote d'Ivoire will be drawn in two groups of 4 for the inaugural tournament to be hosted from February 22 to March 8 in the West African nation.
However, the competition is devoured of key African football powerhouses and recent and record Africa Cup winners like, Egypt, who withdrew from taking part in the CHAN qualifiers.
Also missing will be ultimate continental tournament specialists Cameroon, Nigeria Morocco and South Africa.
Teams going into Fridays draws are seeded Ghana, DR Congo, Senegal, Zimbabwe, Libya, Tanzania, hosts Cote d'Ivoire and Zambia.
With the exception of Cote d'Ivoire and Senegal, almost all the qualified nations come with the background of their regular national teams with a strong home-based flavour.
CHAN will be a big test for Cote d'Ivoire who have strong regular side consisting wholly of foreign-based players and their usually overlooked domestic pedigree is in for a huge test once the tournament starts.
Moreover, despite qualifying for this years Olympics, Cote d'Ivoire have also struggled to make a major impact at junior level with local players whose league has been dominated by ASEC Mimosa for the last decade who also have a famed youth programme.
Ghana are amongst the favorites while Herve Renard's Zambia are also tipped as potential semifinal material thanks to their strong domestic contingent led by prolific strikers, Roger Kola and Given Singuluma, both of Zanaco.
DR Congo who eliminated Cameroon are also another big contender for the inaugural CHAN qualifiers while Zimbabwe will be hoping the best of a rare big stage appearance on the African football theatre.
Tanzania who together with Ghana, Zambia and Libya have all made the finals from a tedious preliminary round of matches are another side looking for better fortunes after two and a half decades away from the big stage.
For more Ghana football news visit www.ghanasoccernet.com