Zambia play in South Korea, Ghana in China and Ivory Coast in Russia today as African countries prepare for next year’s Cup of Nations qualifiers next month.
Defending champions Zambia took six of the Cup-winning team — goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene, defender Davies Nkausu, midfielders Chisamba Lungu, Isaac Chansa and skipper Christopher Katongo, and striker Emmanuel Mayuka — to Seoul.
CAF Champions League commitments deprive the Chipolopolo (Copper Bullets) of defenders Stoppila Sunzu and Hichani Himonde and midfielder Rainford Kalaba from Democratic Republic of the Congo club TP Mazembe.
Another Mazembe star, midfielder Nathan Sinkala, is recovering from a facial nerve infection and defender Joseph Musonda, forced to quit the Cup of Nations final against Ivory Coast after 12 minutes, remains sidelined.
Showers greeted the visiting squad when they arrived in the South Korean capital and they brought relief from the humid conditions in a city that has fond memories for Zambian football boss Kalusha Bwalya.
He scored a hat-trick in a stunning 4-0 triumph over Italy during the 1988 Olympic Games, an achievement which went a long way toward him being chosen African Footballer of the Year a few months later.
A much weaker Zambian team defeated Zimbabwe 2-1 at home on Wednesday last week as they prepare for a two-leg qualifier against Uganda with the winners advancing to the finals in South Africa in January and February next year.
Ghana welcome back United Arab Emirates-based striker Asamoah Gyan from a self-imposed break with the national team, but coach Kwesi Appiah lacks several other stars, including brothers Andre and Jordan Ayew of Olympique de Marseille.
The French Ligue 1 outfit say the friendly is not on a FIFA-sanctioned date for African countries and injuries rule out Daniel Opare of Standard Liege and Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu of Udinese.
Leading Ghana scorer Gyan walked out, having been severely criticized by sections of the public and media after his penalty was saved in a shock Cup of Nations semi-finals defeat by Zambia.
Ivory Coast, penalty-shootout losers to Zambia in the Libreville final after star striker and captain Didier Drogba blazed a regular-time spot-kick over, have named a star-studded 24-man squad for Moscow.
Recently appointed French coach Sabri Lamouchi included brothers Kolo and Yaya Toure from English Premier League champions Manchester City, plus Shanghai-based veteran Drogba and Gervinho of Arsenal.
Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi picked an all-local squad for a clash with West African neighbors Niger in Niamey, where they had to cut short a mid-afternoon training session because of searing heat.
Forced to release four players from Sunshine Stars for CAF Champions League duty in Algeria this weekend, the Super Eagles defeated clubs representing the Nigerian police-and-prison services in warm-ups.
Angola have scrapped admission charges to ensure a capacity crowd in Benguela for a match against fellow Portuguese-speaking nation Mozambique, which marks the debut of Uruguayan Gustavo Ferrin as Palancas Negros (Black Antelopes) coach.