Africa Cup of Nations is widely regarded as one of the most exciting international tournaments, and the 2013 edition is just around the corner. The tournament starts on 19th January as hosts South Africa take on first time participants Cape Verde, with the final scheduled for 10th February at the National Stadium in Johannesburg. There will be 16 teams divided into four groups of four, with top two sides from each group progressing into the quarter-finals.
Zambia are defending the trophy after winning the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations by beating Ivory Coast on penalties, while the Elephants are once again ranked as number one favourites. Improving Ghana and hosts South Africa are also among candidates for the trophy, while Nigeria, Zambia and Mali are seen as dark horses.
In addition to a number of talented players hoping to impress the visiting scouts, 2013 Africa Cup of Nations will feature a plethora of world-class players such as Didier Drogba, Yaya Toure, Kwadwo Asamoah, Asamoah Gyan, Seydou Keita and many more. With all four groups pretty evenly matched, we should see a lot of interesting and exciting games, with fans once again expected to add a special flavour to the tournament.
With Cape Verde Islands unlikely to cause too many problems on their maiden appearance, hosts South Africa, Morocco and Angola should be vying for the top two places in Group A. Boasting a decent squad and a home field advantage, Bafana Bafana are 2.00 (1/1) with Coral to finish top of the group, with severely weakened Morocco and Angola, 3.10 (21/10) and 9.00 (8/1) respectively.
Group B Congo DR and Niger will give their best to produce a couple of upsets and maybe even qualify for the quarter-finals, but I just cannot see that happening. Both Ghana and Mali arrive in South Africa with star-studded line-ups, and are expected to ease off into the next stage. The Black Stars are 1.67 (2/3) with Coral to finish top of the group, while les Aigles are 3.10 (21/10) with bet365.
Group C Reigning champions Zambia and underperforming Nigeria are the favourites to progress from Group C, but Ethiopia and especially Burkina Faso will provide a stern test for both sides. The Chipolopolo look a good bet to win this group, with Paddy Power paying 2.50 (3/2), while Nigeria are 2.10 (11/10) with Coral to pip Herve Renard’s side to the first place in the standings.
Group D Without a doubt this will be the most interesting group at the tournament, even if Ivory Coast are 1.44 (4/9) with Ladbrokes to emerge victorious. The opening clash between fierce rivals Algeria and Tunisia could easily prove decisive for both sides, with Fennec Foxes and Carthage Eagles 2.00 (1/1) and 2.10 (11/10) respectively to make it to the next stage. After Emmanuel Adebayor finally decided to play for Togo, les Eperviers are 5.00 (4/1) with Paddy Power to qualify.