Mali are certainly a dark horse with their crop of talented players like: Momo Sissoko, Seydou Keita, Lassine Diarra, Mahamadou Diarra, and Fredi Kanoute.
Now, Algeria have been in decline since the glory days of the 1980s, when they qualified for successive World Cups and won the 1990 Cup of Nations on home soil. After having qualified for the World Cup in the summer, it could suggest they are back on track.
Finally, the hosts Angola; had they not been hosting the tournament they would not have qualified, that does not give them much hope in my opinion.
Touchline Views Prediction: 1. Algeria; 2. Mali.
Group B is a very clear two horse race in the form of the Ivory Coast and Ghana. The Ivory Coast were finalists in 2006, and semi-finalists in 2008, but lost on both occasions to Egypt.
At the moment the country is a conveyor belt producing talents such as: Kolo & Yaya Toure, Didier Drogba Emmanuel Eboue, and Solomon Kalou. These are the greatest group of players any African nation has produced at any one time. If there is any justice for this talent then the Ivory Coast will win the competition this time.
Ghana will be the Ivory Coast’s strongest contenders for first place in the group. They have a strong midfield in the form of Michael Essien et al and they certainly have the chance to go further than they did in 2008.
I don’t mean to be disrespectful but are Togo not just Emmanuel Adebayor plus ten others? Because he is the only player playing regularly at a top class club, unlike his team mates; either way I don’t see them progressing.
Burkina Faso are making their first cup appearance since 2004 – before then they appeared in five in a row, finishing fourth in 1998. They should not pose a threat either.
Touchline Views Predictions: 1. Ivory Coast, 2. Ghana.
Group C contains current holders Egypt who are going for the coveted three in a row, having won the last two Cup of Nations. Despite winning the Cup of Nations two times in a row they’ve not been to a World Cup in 20 years. They should qualify without too much hassle.
Nigeria will be their main challengers in the group. Things may not be running smoothly for them at the moment though, with the nation refusing to accept the players are not a patch on those of the 90s. They have however qualified for the World Cup, should qualify as runners up to Egypt.
Mozambique were very impressive in qualification for the Cup of Nations, having kept five clean sheets and never conceded more than two goals in a game. It is the first time that they have reached this stage since 1998. Could be a dark horse if the bigger nations slip up; they drew with Ivory Coast and beat Nigeria 1-0 in qualification.
Benin until 2004 had never reached the Cup of Nation; since then they have missed only one of four. They managed to finish ahead of Mali in their Qualifying group, and could be a potential banana skin.
Touchline Views Prediction: 1. Egypt, 2. Nigeria
Cameroon in four competitive games under Paul Le Guen have scored nine and conceded just one goal. They could possibly be returning to the days of their former glory when they won back to back Cup of Nation in 2000 and 2002. With the fit ready and raring to go Samuel Eto’o up front they have got to be favourites to go far.
Tunisia after having qualifying for three successive World Cups have failed to qualify for South Africa this year. This could leave them shaken, but what better way to get over this heartbreak than to go out there and give it their all.
Gabon were so close to getting to the World Cup, but they turned that disappointment around and had enough spirit to bounce back and beat Morocco to reach their fourth Cup of Nations.
Last but not least is Zambia who seem to have a curse of being drawn in tough groups, not much hope of them qualfying in my opinion.
Touchline Views Prediction: 1. Cameroon, 2. Tunisia
If I was to go out on a limb, and working out my predictions from the group stages to the quarter and semi finals then we will have Ivory Coast vs. Cameroon in the final. What a cracker that would be. Both sides are very, very strong at the moment and contain world class players playing at the highest level. So, I would not be surprised if these two did make the finals. If I was to give my pick to the win overall I would say the Ivory Coast; that’s not an easy decision though I think Cameroon are also very likely winners, but as they say: we’ll see how it goes.
I am not sure how many games I will be able to watch but I shall be keeping a very close eye on the tournament and there will be some articles up here, and possibly match reports. I do know that the BBC (other channels are available) is showing all the fixtures, so that will be your one stop shop if you want to catch all the action.
The African Cup of Nations kicks-off on Sunday 10th of January with Angola vs. Mali and runs until the final on Sunday January 31st.