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Stars complain of poor facilities as African Nations Cup begins

The road to this year's African Nations Cup has been rockier than usual - but the tournament finally gets under way today when stand-in hosts Equatorial Guinea take on Congo.

With Ebola causing issues on the west side of the continent, there are likely to be a few eyes drawn away from the footballing spectacle and, although there are no reported cases in the country, the Confederation of African Football ruled that all teams entering the country must be screened for the virus.

But there is plenty to keep interest on the tournament itself - not least on the controversial decision to award Equatorial Guinea the hosting rights.

Having co-hosted the 2012 competition with Gabon, Equatorial Guinea stepped in this time around when initial hosts Morocco decided against staging due to the threat of the spreading Ebola virus and it was deemed a questionable move both on and off the pitch.

Equatorial Guinea president Teodoro Obiang Nguema has a chequered history with the United Nations but, even for purely sporting reasons, the country was a surprise choice - given they were disqualified having fielded an ineligible player in their qualification victory over Mauritania.

Hosting the tournament gave them a route back in and they now face Congo, Gabon and Burkina Faso in Group A of the competition.

Congo are first up for the hosts and their coach Claude Le Roy has not been impressed with the facilities since his squad arrived in the county.

"There are not enough places for my staff and it's even difficult to find rooms for the players," Le Roy said.

"The electricity is terrible, everything is exposed. I wanted to wash my hands. There was no water.

"Some of my assistants went around to see if there were rooms available somewhere but it seems very, very difficult.

"I don't want a big five-star hotel. I just want something very clean. I told the players to qualify for the last eight - some teams will leave and maybe we will have a very nice hotel."

With seven-time winners Egypt and 2013 champions Nigeria both missing this time around, there is a better chance for a number of nations to reach the final in Bata on February 8.

Group C appears the toughest on paper as Algeria, Ghana, Senegal and South Africa all meet - with Senegal the only nation from the group yet to lift the trophy.

West Ham's in-form striker Diafra Sakho will be missing for Senegal after injuring his back and with Hammers' boss Sam Allardyce still angry for what he perceived as poor treatment of the player on previous international breaks.


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