Almost 12 months ago, Zambia left the region drenched in success following their emotional triumph in Gabon, just a few kilometers off the coast where their colleagues perished in a plane crash in 1993.
Chipolopolo emulated South Africa who won the competition the last time they hosted in 1996. This means only two Southern African sides have won the competition.
South Africa's 1996 generation became the first side from the southern end of the continent to lift the trophy.
Zambia's reign might last only 12months if the neighbors do not defend their crown. Zambia, Angola and South Africa carry Southern Africa's hope of a third title since three nations participated in the inaugural edition in 1957. The South Africans have not had much success in warm up matches, tampering with the 'rainbow' nation's self-belief. Bafana face potential banana skins in a tricky group that consists of Cape Verde, Morocco and neighbours Angola. The first match sees debutants, Cape Verde open their account against Bafana Bafana tomorrow. Kick-off is 6:00 pm.
A strong start is expected from the home side but Cape Verde have proved how difficult they can be after ousting Cameroon in the qualifiers.
Batswana will not be left out as CAF's flagship competition commences, with some people making last minute dashes to grab tickets. Botswana Post set a stall at the Rail Park Mall in Gaborone where fans were able to purchase tickets.
Ticket sells have reportedly been slowly in South Africa and distributing some to neighboring countries is seen as a last ditch effort to shore up sells.
The tournament will be played over three weeks, culminating in the final on February 10 and Southern Africans will keep their fingers crossed that one of their own lifts the gold plated trophy. (See fixtures on page 37)