NIGERIA — The Super Eagles have one of the best coaches on the continent and no one has really paid attention to progress made under Stephen Keshi.
Unlike their star-studded West African neighbours Ghana and Ivory Coast, they are not under pressure and will throw caution to the wind.
One needed to have watched their 1-1 preparatory draw against star-studded Catalonia to see they mean business.
A mixture of experienced players will be key to their campaign and names to watch out for are Emmanuel Emenike, Victor Moses with six caps and two goals, Ahmed Musa and Ike Uche.
GHANA — Ghana has traditionally done well at continental competitions and I don’t see it being any different this time around. They have a fairly balanced side which is not too reliant on individuals, which I think will give them an edge over a side like Ivory Coast.
Another plus for the Ghanaians is that they have done very well during the build-up to the tourney with wins against Egypt and Tunisia, which show that they are on top of their game.
I’m confident they will carry on with that momentum and go all the way to lift the Africa Cup of Nations.
GROUP SPORTS EDITOR
ZAMBIA — The defending champions will certainly take the trophy back to Lusaka basing on their pedigree and ability to rise to the occasion despite an underdog tag. Chipolopolo’s other huge arsenal is team work. They are not as star-studded as Ivory Coast and Ghana, but they are efficient in every department.
The fact that South Africa is hosting the finals is an added advantage for Chris Katongo and his men who are virtually at home in Mzansi. Most Zambian players have played in South Africa while they are assured full houses because of proximity. Forget about indifferent results in the build-up to the tournament. You are assured of money if you bet on Chipolopolo.
IVORY COAST — I am tipping Ivory Coast to win this year’s Afcon Cup. They lost in the final in the last competition, so they would want to make amends for faltering at the last stage. Worse for some of the ageing stars, they have been accused of not putting enough effort for the Elephants and would be on a mission to prove their critics wrong.
IVORY COAST — Often they have been dubbed as the chokers of African football, but 2013 might be the year Ivory Coast get rid of their nearly-men demons. Their squad, on paper, is and has been the strongest in the tournament in recent years, but their downfall has been their inability to play as a team.
Luck and sometimes fate has also been very unkind to this golden generation of Ivory Coast.
This Afcon is perhaps the last chance for most of their stars reaching the twilight of their careers — in particularly their talisman Didier Drogba who would want to confirm his status as one of the best football players to emerge from the “Mother Continent” by winning the cup.
They surely want to wave goodbye to the continental stage with a bang. Unlike in previous years, they have everything to play for and should be a bit more determined to land it this time around. My money is on the Elephants!
IVORY COAST — They have players who are probably playing their last Afcon tournament and will put up a spirited performance for a grand exit.
They have the strongest squad that has Drogba, Touré and Gervinho — and the loss in the final to Zambia last year will spur them on albeit being in the toughest group that features Algeria, Tunisia and Togo.