Namibia Economist (Windhoek)

18 January 2013

Africa: Who Will Win the 2013 Africa Nations Trophy?

Many football fans all over the world, especially in Africa, have been talking about which country will be crowned the king of African football at this year's Orange Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa.

The country will be the centre of the world's attention this Saturday (19 January), as the country hosts the 2013 Orange Africa Cup of Nations opening ceremony and the tournament's first match between host nation, South Africa and Cape Verde at the National Stadium in Johannesburg.

For the next 23 days, the focus of the world will turn to Africa as the continent's best soccer players battle for the glistening golden trophy.

It is expected that more than one billion soccer fans worldwide will follow the games live throughout the tournament.

Before the tournament begins, let me point out that the qualifying games have made it hard to predict which country will win the trophy as the top and underdogs on the African continent have improved their game.

Defending champions, Chipolopolo of Zambia are among the favourites as they will not want to surrender their title without a fight. Star-studded side Ivory Coast, Ghana and Nigeria are also tipped as favourites to win the Africa Nations trophy this year.

The Elephants of Ivory Coast will be counting on the wealth of experience of their ageing senior players to win the trophy this time having learnt from last year's disappointing loss to Zambia in the final. One time champion, Ivory Coast have also won two silver medals and a fourth place position in the previous editions of the Africa Cup of Nations.

I believe this year's finals presents the country's ageing stars with a realistic opportunity to live up to the FIFA ranking as Africa's first-strongest football nation. The Elephants won their only title 20 years ago in Senegal.

Ghana, a team that has won the trophy four times, has a generation of players that can win the trophy after finishing third, second and fourth respectively at the last three editions of the tournament.

Ghana, with the bulk of their present players, reached the quarter-finals when South Africa hosted the first ever FIFA World Cup in Africa in 2010.

The Super Eagles of Nigeria are determined to win their third trophy after they surprisingly failed to qualify for last year's competition in Gabon/Equatorial Guinea.

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