The 2013 African Nations Cup begins on Saturday 19th January, to be hosted this year by South Africa, after it was deemed unsafe to be held in Libya. All eyes will be on defending champions Zambia who sprung a 50/1 shock last year by defeating the pre tournament favourites Ivory Coast on penalties in the final.
Bookies have once again installed Ivory Coast as the pre tournament favourites at 7/4 to take the spoils, and rightly so considering the strength of their squad which includes Didier Drogba, Kolo and Yaya Toure, Gervinho, and a host of up and coming names.
However, ‘The Elephants’ have often disappointed on the big stage, and with Ghana, hosts South Africa and Nigeria breathing down their necks, the 2013 African Cup of Nations looks a wide open betting heat, and there could be lots of value to be found.
We have profiled each and every competing team to help you with your betting decisions, and will be posting match previews and tips once the tournament has begun.
TVBet actually tipped 2012 winners Zambia at a huge 50/1, as well as advising a bet on Ivory Coast, the losing finalists.
Nickname: ‘Bofana Bofana’.
Fifa Rank 84
Recent form DLWLW
Player to watch: Thulami Serero (Ajax Cape Town)
This year’s host offer little for the home support to get excited about. Their recent form has been poor so be aware this is not the team we loved that beat France in the 2010 World Cup. Given that they missed out on the last Africa Cup of Nations, coupled with the home advantage, they may throw up some surprises but look unlikely at the moment.
Nickname Palancas Negras (Sable Antelopes)
Fifa Rank 79
Recent form WWWDD
Player to watch: Manucho (Real Valladolid)
Their biggest achievement to date being their qualification to the 2006 World Cup but only managed to score 1 goal earning two draws. Their recent form has been very encouraging including the 2014 World Cup qualification group. Angola don’t concede many and they don’t score many. Since the last ACON they have been involved in only one game with over 2.5 goals (and they only scored 1 in that game).
Nickname: Lions of the Atlas
Fifa Rank 72
Recent form WDWLW
Player to watch: Nordin Amrabat (Galatasaray)
Morocco have won the ACON before but have struggled in the World Stage in recent times. Under new management they turned around a 2-0 deficit to win 4-2 in the qualifying playoff against Mozambique. Friendlies in the last month have shown more encouraging form. New boss Taoussi has made brave omissions including Chamakh and now former captain Kharja. Providing Taoussi gets the team behind him they may have a chance and should progress from the group.
Nickname: Tubarões Azuis (Blue Sharks)
Fifa Rank 63
Recent form DLLWW
Player to watch: Ryan Mendes (Lille)
Very much outsiders this will be a shop window for many of the Cape Verde players. Their recent 0-0 draw against Nigeria will certainly turn some heads. Another impressive performance or two may seem them progress from the group. Quietly-spoken striker Ryan Mendes is certainly a player who could be the difference.
Nickname: Les Aigles (The Eagles)
Fifa Rank 25
Recent form WWWLW
Player to watch: Samba Sow (RC Lens)
Former Captain Diarra is injured and ruled out of the tournament this time around. They shocked a lot of people last time around taking 3rd place, beating Ghana in the third place playoff. It’s hard to look past them progressing from this group.
Nickname: Black Stars
Fifa Rank 30
Recent form WWWWL
Player to watch: Christian Atsu (FC Porto)
Ghana are my favourites this time around. Their strength in depth is good and performance on the World stage is unquestionable. They were unlucky in the World Cup against Uruguay, losing on penalties. They’ll qualify from this group and should do so without too much trouble.
Fifa Rank 105
Recent form DWLDW
Player to watch: Ouwo Moussa Maâzou (Étoile du Sahel)
Very much an unknown quantity coming into the tournament but many players with a point to prove including two free agents. Well travelled captain Maâzou will need to get the team playing to get results against Ghama and Mali.
Nickname: The Leopards
Fifa Rank 99
Recent form LLWWW
Player to watch: Dieumerci Mbokani (Anderlecht)
Coached by pragmatist Claude Le Roy, Congo will have to cause some upsets to progress. They have been missing from the past three tournaments. They eased through qualifying for the tournament and raised eyebrows by taking over forty players to South Africa from which to pick 23. It’ll be a competitive squad and they’ll be looking to striker Mbokani for goals.
Nickname: Chipolopolo (the Copper bullets)
Fifa Rank 34
Recent form DDLLL
Player to watch: Christopher Katongo (Henan Constrution)
Zambia stunned the field last year taking the crown (were 50/1 before the tournament started). The team is much the same as is the coach. Zambia have lost to both Tanzania and Angola and drawn with Morocco and Norway in four friendlies over the last three weeks. I foresee this to be an awkward group.
Nickname: Super Eagles (or Green Eagles)
Fifa Rank 57
Recent form DWWDD
Player to watch: Victor Moses (Chelsea)
Nigeria are without Peter Odemwingie, Obafemi Martins, and Shola Ameobi this time around. They are a team that blow hot and cold. They’re not the African force they once were but on their day they can be an excellent team. They’ve had some problems behind the scenes with the head coach not being paid and disharmony amongst the squad so it’s tough to predict which Nigeria will turn up to the competition. A happy Nigerian team playing well has to be backed to reach the semis.
Nickname: Les Etalons (The Stallions)
Fifa Rank 89
Recent form DDWWL
Player to watch: Alain Traoré (FC Lorient)
I like the look of Burkino Faso, perhaps not to take the competition by storm and lift the trophy at the end but they might surprise a few people by emerging from the group. Disgraced Coach, Belgian Paul Put, who has been banned from football in his home country for match fixing in 2007, has a point to prove and has some iterating player at his disposal. French based Traore, Pitroipa and Kabore will all have to put in massive performances to get themselves out of the group having only progressed once in the last ten attempts. They did reach the semi final in 98′.
Nickname: Walya Antelopes
Fifa Rank 102
Recent form WDLLL
Player to watch: Yussuf Saleh (Syrianska FC)
200/1 must be worth a punt I hear you say. Well perhaps they could be a good bet-to-lay option. If either Zambia or BUrkino Faso fail to turn up who knows. Only three of their players are based outside of Ethiopia. They are a hugely inexperienced team and progressing from the group is unlikely. Though they make take some encouragement from drawing away at South Africa 1-1 in June.
Nickname: The Elephants
Fifa Rank 14
Recent form WWWDD
Player to watch: Yaya Toure (Manchester City)
Last year’s beaten finalists will be thinking it their year this time around. It might be the last chance of the ‘golden generation’ of Drogba, Toure, Kalou et al but the likes of Traore coming through they are still to have a bright future. Their form was nothing short of excellent going into the last tournament and they’ve scored plenty of goals going into this one. Whilst they are strong favourites, 7/4 seems a bit short but they will take some beating.
Nickname: The Eagles of Carthage
Fifa Rank 46
Recent form WWDDW
Player to watch: Issam Jemaa (Kuwait SC)
Recent forms dictates that Tunisia should struggle here, recently drawing with Ethiopia, Gabon and losing to Ghana. However, keep an eye on both teams to score. They’ll be going head to head with Algeria and Togo for second spot this time around, surely none can topple Ivory Coast in the group stage.
Nickname: Les Fennecs
Fifa Rank 19
Recent form DLWWW
Player to watch: El Arbi Hillel Soudani (Vitória SC)
Surprisingly Algeria are 19th in the Fifa Rankings sandwiched between Brazil and Sweden yet Algeria are 14/1.. read into this what you will. They breezed through qualification against Libya and drew with draw mongers South Africa (Drawing with South Africa feels like a right of passage!). They’ve been in decent form in 2012 so could be an outside bet but the odds reflect their tough group.
Nickname: Les Eperviers (The Sparrow Hawks)
Fifa Rank 73
Recent form LWWWD
Player to watch: Emmanuel Adebayor (Tottenham Hotspur)
All eyes will be on Adebayor to give Togo their chance. The Spurs frontman had been in a row with his country’s football authorities over player welfare, security and sundry issues but finally decided to play after he was spoken to by President Faure Gnassingbe.
* Rankings and form stats as at 10/1/2013