2012 African Nations Cup

African Nations

Football
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Published: 12/12/2011

Gabon and Equatorial Guinea will co-host the 2012 African Nations Cup, which will definitely see a new country crowned as champions following Egypt’s shock failure to qualify.

With a plethora of Premier League and other European football stars, the Ivory Coast unsurprisingly head the betting as clear favourites to win the tournament and compensate for defeat in the final two years ago.

Salomon Kalou, Yaya Toure and Gervinho will spearhead ‘The Elephant’s quest for success and they should have absolutely no problems topping their group which consists of previous hosts Angola, Sudan and Burkina Faso.

For a number of years, the Ivory Coast has produced a string of top quality players and now seems the right time for them to collectively fulfil their potential on the continental stage.

At 6/4, they look an exceptional bet to go one better than 2010 and stamp their authority on African football.

Current second favourites Ghana are likely to pose a stiff test nonetheless and they are pitched into a group which includes Mali, Guinea and Botswana.

Chelsea star Michael Essien and former Sunderland hitman Asamoah Gyan will be vital to their chances later in the tournament should they breeze through the first phase as expected.

The omission of Cameroon from the championship leaves a gaping hole in terms of quality on paper, however rival nations such as Senegal and Morocco may well be able to step up and transform themselves into genuine contenders.

Senegal, in particular, have fallen rather quiet since their ground breaking 2002 World Cup campaign but this tournament may offer them a chance to assert themselves at the fore of African football once again.

With Libya, Zambia and Equatorial Guinea to contest with in the group phase, it seems certain that the Senegalese will stick around for the business end of the tournament and potentially pose a threat to the Ivory Coast and Ghana.

Morocco face a rather difficult task from the off with Tunisia, Gabon and Niger forming Group C, however their ante-post odds of 10/1 will surely be far shorter should they prevail to the quarter finals unscathed.

The world of football, ultimately, will be hoping for an entertaining, high quality tournament that can restore the reputation of the African game.

In 2010, the tournament was marred and overshadowed by an attack on the Togo team bus which forced them to withdraw from the competition.

Subsequently, Togo were banned from competing in the tournament along with Nigeria who faced a self-imposed government ban on international football for poor performance.

Such occurences have for many sent African football back to the third world and 2012 will be a vital year for the championship and CONCACAF.

With the likes of Gabon, Zambia and Botswana involved, there is definitely scope for a number of unfamiliar teams to make a name for themselves and enhance the quality of the competition.

Individual match betting may therefore not be as straightforward as it looks, especially when taking match handicaps into consideration.

Countries have also underperformed at the tournament in the past so it may be best to observe the first round of group games before committing to any wagers – however the Ivory Coast really do look unavoidable thinking in regards to the outright winner.


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