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Ghana lead Nations Cup hopefuls into battle

World Cup quarter-finalists Ghana lead 42 hopefuls as the 2012 African Nations Cup qualifying campaign starts.

The Black Stars face Swaziland on Sunday two months after they were eliminated by Uruguay.

Michael Essien, Sulley Muntari and Stephen Appiah will be absentees, leaving coach Milovan Rajevac to unleash his young stars on the Swazis.

Essien has just returned to action after a lengthy absence caused by a knee injury.

He sustained during training at the 2010 Nations Cup in Angola last January and opted out of African combat for an indefinite period.

Talented but temperamental Muntari has given the coach more grey hairs than the rest of the squad combined and was left out while Appiah decided last month to concentrate on his club career in Italy.

Swaziland usually provide stiff resistance at Somhlolo Stadium in the breathtaking Ezulwini Valley, defeating Manchester City striker Emmanuel Adebayor and his Togo team-mates there in the last qualifying competition.

Zambia‘s opener against the Comoros Islands has been postponed until Sunday, after the referees due to officiate in the game failed to arrive on time.

The Confederation of African Football (Caf) ordered the Group C qualifier in Lusaka to be rescheduled for Sunday because the officiating team from Eritrea were stuck in transit in Dubai.

Sudan host Congo on Saturday in the other Group I fixture knowing that second place is the realistic limit of their ambitions with Ghana hot favourites to secure a place at finals being co-hosted by Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.

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