Following a memorable penalty shootout victory over Ghana in 2015, Ivory Coast enter this tournament full of confidence, but the defending champions are without a number of key players from that triumph, including Gervinho and the Toure brothers, Yaya and Kolo. Nevertheless, the men in orange remain hopeful that the Premier League contingent of Wilfried Zaha, Max Gradel and Wilfried Bony will be enough to overpower the rest of the field. Ivory Coast have the advantage of a relatively weak group that features Congo DR, Morocco and Togo, but a potential meeting with Egypt or Ghana in the quarter finals could prove tricky.
Should the Elephants fail to defend their title, punters will be keeping an eye on the likes of Senegal and Algeria, both of whom offer decent odds. The two sides have been drawn in what is being described by many as the ‘group of death’ and features 2004 winners Tunisia and footballing minnows Zimbabwe. However, should both teams escape unharmed, a favourable quarter final fixture against one of the weaker sides from Group A awaits.
Ghana are also a side worth watching, but much like Senegal and Algeria, the Black Stars face a number of difficult opening games in the form of Uganda and Mali, before a potentially massive game against Egypt in a repeat of the 2010 final. Last year’s runners-up will be determined to go one better this time around as they pursue a first AFCON title since 1982.
This is a tournament renowned for producing shocks, from Ghana’s first round elimination at the hands of Zimbabwe in 2006 to Zambia’s fairytale tournament triumph in 2012, nothing is ever straight forward in the Cup of Nations. Bettors in search of a potential upset this year could favour hosts Gabon or 2013 finalists Burkina Faso, available at 40/1 with William Hill to lift the trophy on the 5th of February.