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Our panel of five experts stick out their necks ahead of the big tournament, but do you agree with their forecasts or will there be upsets on the cards?

The 2012 Afcon takes place from January 21 to February 12, and it is to be co-hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.

Some teams will take part in the competition for the first time, while others will be aiming to write their names in the record books as Africa's best when the final takes place at the Stade d'Angondje in Libreville on February 12.

Goal.com polled our writers on who they think will be the big winners and losers.

We asked them to name their predictions for the following:

1. Winner

2. Runner-up

3. Star Player

4. Young Starlet

5. Top Scorer

6. Surprise Package

7. Tournament Flop (Team)

THE PREDICTIONS

PETER PEDRONCELLI | African Football Editor

WINNER 
Ghana


The Black Stars have been the most impressive team on the continent in the last few years, and this could be their crowning moment, and the catalyst that will see them scale the never-before reached heights of a semi-final place at Brazil 2014.

RUNNER-UP
Senegal


The Teranga Lions have come together to form a formidable squad that should be feared come the 2012 Afcon. Their attack is marvellous, and they will certainly take some stopping when they gain confidence and progress through the tournament.

STAR PLAYER 
Gervinho (Cote d'Ivoire)


The value of a player like Gervinho cannot be underestimated, and his rival footballers on the African continent are well aware of the threat he poses. The Arsenal star is skilful and has great vision, allowing him to create goals for his team-mates and score a fair share on his own.

YOUNG STARLET
Andre Ayew (Ghana)


The talented youngster has shown incredible maturity and ability in the last few years, and Ghana can be pleased to have players like him as the future of the Black Stars. He will be one of the leaders in the squad, despite his age, and will contribute immensely to their campaign.

TOP SCORER
Demba Ba (Senegal)


The striker has been enjoying some phenomenal form at club level with Newcastle United. He will be aiming to take Senegal all the way in the competition, and his goals will be important if that dream is to come true in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.

SURPRISE PACKAGE 
Burkina Faso

Colombia


This side is one that interests me, and I wonder if they will be capable of pulling a few surprises during the tournament. With the likes of Alain Traore and Jonathan Pitroipa in the squad, this team certainly cannot be considered dead in the water.

TOURNAMENT FLOP 
Mali

Colombia


The Eagles of Mali have impressed me with their team spirit and they are perhaps one of the few teams who do not rely on star players, but as much as I want them to do well, I worry that they do not have the ability to get far in the tournament.
RAMI AYARI | North African Correspondent

WINNER 
Ghana


With heavyweights such as Egypt, Nigeria, Cameroon, and Algeria out, this tournament is truly Ghana’s to lose. The Black Stars were consistent in qualifying and have the continuity to perform well at the 2012 Afcon.

RUNNER-UP
Cote d'Ivoire


Much like Ghana, the star studded Ivorians will consider this their best chance in a long time to lift the Afcon trophy. The Elephants have an embarrassment of riches all over the field, but this was the case during their last few participations as well and one gets the sense that they may just fold under the pressure at the last hurdle.

STAR PLAYER 
Asamoah Gyan (Ghana)


If Ghana are to lift the Afcon as many expect, then Gyan will surely have to provide some exceptional goals during their successful run to the title. This will of course depend on him recovering in time to play an important part.

YOUNG STARLET
Oussama Assaidi (Morocco)


If his outstanding performances during qualifying are anything to go by, Morocco’s Assaidi is set to turn heads at the Afcon. The inventive dribbler’s ability to create attacks out of nothing will make him a top target for European scouts.

TOP SCORER
Mamadou Niang (Senegal)


Niang’s Senegal could hardly miss during qualifying and there’s no indication that they’re ready to cool down any time soon. Niang spearheads an attacking trident alongside Papiss Cisse and Moussa Sow to devastating effect.

SURPRISE PACKAGE 
Tunisia

Colombia


The Carthage Eagles struggled in qualifying due to a combination of political upheaval, injury concerns and coaching changes, but the side is primarily composed of local elements who lifted the 2011 Africa Championship of Nations in similar conditions.

TOURNAMENT FLOP 
Equatorial Guinea

Colombia


Even though they are co-hosts, home advantage probably won’t be enough for Equatorial Guinea to emerge from a group they share with favourites Senegal, Afcon regulars Zambia, and returnees Libya.
KENT MENSAH | Ghana Correspondent

WINNER 
Senegal


The west Africans have been a very disciplined and a highly motivated outfit over the years. Most of their players, especially the forward line with the likes of Moussa Sow, Mamadou Niang and Papiss Cisse, have been phenomenal and I strongly believe they are in for the ultimate victory.

RUNNER-UP
Cote d'Ivoire


The Ivorians have often come into this tournament as favourites judging from their output during the qualifying stages and the galaxy of stars they parade, however, what I usually call 'individualistic football' has always gone against them.

STAR PLAYER 
Gervinho (Cote d'Ivoire)


This will be a difficult call, however, I have a strong feeling it may not go to one of the big names we know in African football, such as Arsenal's Gervinho. I wish it would end up in the hands of a goalkeeper and not an outfield player, as is usually the case.

YOUNG STARLET
Andre Ayew (Ghana)


If Ghana are able to make it to the dying stages of the tournament then I will put my last bet on Olympique Marseille’s Andre Ayew, who is a very impressive youngster with a bright future in the Black Stars side.

TOP SCORER
Moussa Sow (Senegal)


Senegal striker Moussa Sow has the potential to scoop this award if he is able to lead his side to the final, and considering his form in the last two years, he certainly has a chance.

SURPRISE PACKAGE 
Niger

Colombia


I have Niger on my list. If their performances in the qualifying stage for this competition are anything to go by, then the big names in African football are in for trouble. Niger could cause a stir if they are able to get beyond the group stages.

TOURNAMENT FLOP 
Ghana


I am quite sure people might be wondering where Ghana is on my list. This is a difficult decision to make, but I harbour a strong fear that the four-time African champions – although touted as favourites at the 28th edition of the tournament – may be the flop of the tournament.
HOCINE HARZOUNE | Goal.com France

WINNER 
Cote d'Ivoire


Ivory Coast must be one of the biggest threats. They are the top African team in the Fifa ranking right now and they did really well in qualification with six victories in six games. They also have great and experienced players who can make the difference when the time comes.

RUNNER-UP
Ghana


With the absence of holders Egypt, and former winners like Cameroon and Algeria, Ghana have a golden opportunity to go all the way in Afcon 2012. We saw what the Black Stars are capable of two years ago in the World Cup, and like Ivory Coast, they have the individual talent to make an impact.

STAR PLAYER 
Gervinho (Cote d'Ivoire)


Gervinho is enjoying a good run of form at Arsenal and if Van Persie is scoring, Gervinho's passing has a great deal to do with it. The former Lille man creates spaces and chances and is one of the best summer signings in the Premier League. I see him shining alongside the other Ivorian stars.

YOUNG STARLET
Jordan Ayew (Ghana)


I think Jordan Ayew will do some damage. Abedi Pele‘s youngest son will rise to the occasion at national team level, especially if Ghana go all the way to the final. His future is extremely bright, just like his older brother Andre.

TOP SCORER
Issam Jemaa (Tunisia)


Issam Jemaa of Tunisia netted seven goals, which is the highest total in the qualifying round. The Auxerre man also became the record scorer for Tunisia on October 10, 2010. He scored a brace against Malawi this year and is in great form.

SURPRISE PACKAGE 
Tunisia

Colombia


I don’t know if it would a surprise, but I see Tunisia making a good run in this Afcon. They have many players from Esperance Tunis who recently won the African Champions League. The likes of Oussama Darragi can help the Tunisians conjure the surprise of the tournament.

TOURNAMENT FLOP 
Sudan

Colombia


I think Sudan will be the worst team of the competition. Qualifying was hard as they were let through as the best second-placed qualifier. Since their victory in 1970, they have never passed the first round.
PETER STAUNTON | World football expert

WINNER 
Ghana


In a depleted field, the Black Stars have the experience, quality and tournament-nous to lead the pack. With four of the past five winners eliminated at the qualification stage, Ghana are my pick.

RUNNER-UP
Cote d'Ivoire


Ghana will have to beat a Cote D'Ivoire side whose bark is worse than its bite. They will, however, have what it takes to reach the final, unless they face Ghana along the way.

STAR PLAYER 
Kwadwo Asamoah (Ghana)


The Udinese midfielder is the creative hub of the Black Stars and is the man to provide the key passes and assists. With no Kevin Prince-Boateng, Ghana will look to Asamoah for the spark and imagination to break down defences.

YOUNG STARLET
Youssef Msakni (Tunisia)


The attacking midfielder has been touted as one of the Maghreb's finest prospects for a few years now without ever rising to the levels expected of him. The Carthage Eagles have a decent chance of making the knockout stages and Msakni is capable of helping them achieve that goal. Now is his time to announce himself on the continental stage.

TOP SCORER
Papiss Cisse (Senegal)


Senegal should emerge from their section by virtue of their unparalleled firepower. In the shape of Cisse, Demba Ba, Moussa Sow, Dame N'Doye and Mamadou Niang, the Teranga lions have, arguably, the strongest array of strikers in world football. Of these, Cisse is likely to provide the finishing touches.

SURPRISE PACKAGE 
Gabon & Equatorial Guinea

Colombia


The field is wide open and, aside from Ghana and Cote D'Ivoire, group winners are hard to pick. Therefore the co-hosts Equatorial Guinea and Gabon could bloody a few noses and go deep into the knockout rounds. Both teams have an array of talent, some nurtured, some imported.

TOURNAMENT FLOP 
Morocco

Colombia


Back on the continental stage, the Atlas Lions need to get it right in order to impress. However, the Moroccans have been drawn in a difficult section and face a tough task to emerge from the initial phase. Reputation counts for nothing in the case of Morocco's Europe-based starters.
IN NUMBERS

3 writers believe that Ghana will be victorious at the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations

3 of our panel are convinced that Cote d'Ivoire will fall short at the final hurdle

3 writers say Andre Ayew is likely to be the best young player at the the tournament

3 believe Gervinho will finish the competition as the Player of the Tournament

2 writers predict Tunisia will be the surprise package of the Afcon

1 backs Senegal to win their first ever Afcon title

0 writers think that Morocco will be in the final of the competition

HAVE YOUR SAY

Let us know which writer you think is on the money - and who will be left red-faced in February. You can also add your own predictions in the comment box below...

Top Six
1. Barcelona
2. Real Madrid
3. Valencia
4. Athletic Bilbao
5. Malaga
6. Villarreal

Relegation
18. Granada
19. Levante
20. Rayo Vallecano

Copa del Rey winner
Real Madrid

Player of the Year
Lionel Messi

Young Player of the Year
Manchester United

Pichichi
Manchester City

Coach of the Season
Frank Lampard

Best Signing of the Season
Adam Johnson

Worst Signing of the Season

Darren Bent

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