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2013 Africa Cup of Nations predictions: Goal.com editors tip Ghana to win

2013 Africa Cup of Nations predictions: Goal.com editors tip Ghana to win

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Our panel of 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 2013 Afcon takes place from January 19 to February 10, and it is to be hosted by South Africa.

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 Soccer City in Johannesburg on February 10.

Goal.com polled our Chief Editors 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

KENT MENSAH | Goal.com Ghana Chief Editor

WINNER 
Ghana

The tournament is Ghana’s to lose. I strongly believe the Black Stars will this time live up to their favourites tag. The four-time African champions have a solid midfield, strong backline and a blend of both young and old brings some high level of depth in the squad. Kwesi Appiah needs to play his cards well to make it to the hall of fame of local coaches who have won continental trophies for Ghana.


RUNNER-UP
Ivory Coast

I’m torn between Ivory Coast and Nigeria. But looking at experience and previous record, I’ll give it to the Elephants. The Ivorians are dead certain to make it in the last four and could see a repeat of Senegal 1992  final with neighbours Ghana. If that happens, the Black Stars will sail through.



STAR PLAYER 
K. Asamoah (Ghana)

The Juventus midfielder has been the creative force in Ghana’s middle, and judging from his club performance this season, a lot will depend on the playmaker if Ghana are to remain formidable in the midfield. Although he has not really shone at national level compared to club, I believe this is his tournament to wow his African audience.


YOUNG STARLET
Youssuf Mulumbu (DRC)

 The 25-year-old West Brom player will be the young talent to watch as he makes his debut Africa Cup of Nations appearance. A lot of the attackers will rely on him to create the chances for them to score as he has been good at that in recent times.


TOP SCORER
Didier Drogba (I. Coast)

This might be his last Nations Cup appearance due to age and perhaps personal reasons. The veteran would be grateful to leave the international scene with at least something to remember if not the ultimate. I’ll tip him to grab this accolade if Ivory Coast are to go far in this tournament.


SURPRISE PACKAGE 
Cape Verde

The Blue Sharks are making it to their maiden Nations Cup after eliminating giants Cameroon. They are not going to be pushovers as some pundits have predicted, arguing their victory over the Indomitable Lions was just by sheer luck. They are likely to cause a stir and I won’t be surprised to see them drawing with hosts South Africa in the opening game.


TOURNAMENT FLOP 
Nigeria

I still believe the west African football powerhouse is still under construction after losing out on the last edition to Guinea. Nigerians will be expecting nothing less than a final and I have a strong conviction this won’t happen. Coach Stephen Keshie has managed to assemble a squad that looks promising, but the best they can do is to finish at the quarter-final stage.

IGNAT MANJOO | Goal.com South Africa Chief Editor

WINNER 
Cote d'Ivoire

This is the last opportunity for most of their star players, so Ivory Cost will be desperate and highly motivated to make history. They would have also learnt from their mistakes in underestimating opposition in the past.

RUNNER-UP
Ghana

I personally think the Afcon is unpredictable. Ghana function best as a team, but I just think Ivory Coast would be hungrier this time. You usually get surprises, and do not see the two top teams in the final, but this prediction is on paper.

STAR PLAYER 
Didier Drogba (Cote d'Ivoire)

As it was with Chelsea in the 2012 Champions League, I expect the 2013 Afcon to be all about Drogba's swan song before retirement. He might not be the top scorer, but will be central to the Elephants' cause upfront.

YOUNG STARLET
Thulani Serero (South Africa)

The Ajax Amsterdam attacking midfielder will carry the hopes of the host nation with his ability to open opposition defences through dribbling and creativity. Success or failure will depend on the relatively inexperienced Serero to make a name for himself at international level.


TOP SCORER
Gervinho (Cote d'Ivoire)

If Sven Goran Eriksson used him properly in the 2010 World Cup then they would have progressed ahead of Portugal. Now the Arsenal forward has the opportunity, and with Drogba holding up the ball and harassing defenders, there should be enough space for Gervinho to exploit.

SURPRISE PACKAGE 
Ethiopia

Colombia

Or perhaps Zambia. When Zambia take on Ethiopia it will be one surprise package against another in a tough group that also comprises of Nigeria. Ethiopia have the potential to cause a major upset, but can they progress through this Group of Death.

TOURNAMENT FLOP 
Morocco

Colombia

They have top quality players to frighten South Africa, but I think the home team will rise to the occasion. Most neutral critics believe Morocco will win Group A, but both Angola and Cape Verde can potentially frustrate them. They are known to disappoint in tournaments and we South Africans do not want them to hit top form.
DENNIS MABUKA | Goal.com Kenya

WINNER 
Ghana

Ghana must be one of the biggest threats. The Black Stars have talented and experienced players who can make the difference when the time comes.



RUNNER-UP
Cote d'Ivoire

Ivory Coast have a golden opportunity to go all the way in this Afcon. Former Chelsea striker and captain Didier Drogba could be coming back with vengeance in this year's tournament. Like the Black Stars (Ghana), Ivory Coast have individual talent that will help them to cause problems for other teams.

STAR PLAYER 
Didier Drogba (Cote d'Ivoire)

Despite leaving Chelsea for a top side in China, Didier Drogba still has a point to prove at the Afcon tournament. Drogba was key to   the Blues winning the Champions League at the expense of Bayern Munich. Having missed a penalty in the last Afcon final against Zambia's Chipolopolo, he has a point to prove at this year's final, keeping in mind that he will be bidding farewell to international football.

YOUNG STARLET
Boakye-Yiadom (Ghana)

I think the 19-year-old is one of the few players in world football who has scored on most of his debut appearances and has been in fantastic form for his side Sassuolo, where he is on loan from Juventus. The youngster is a typical number nine and at times can also play as a second striker, where he normally feeds the leading marksman and scores when the need arises.

TOP SCORER
Katlego Mphela (South Africa)

Katlego Mphela has been one of Bafana Bafana's leading lights throughout his time with the national side, scoring vital goals and at times, spectacular strikes. He forms part of an attacking pairing with Bernard Parker, which should challenge top African sides with his pace and finishing ability.

SURPRISE PACKAGE 
Cape Verde

Colombia

I do not know if it would be a surprise, but I see Cape Verde making a good run in this Afcon tournament. They shocked powerhouse Cameroon to reach the finals and I strongly believe they will prevail in South Africa.

TOURNAMENT FLOP 
Tunisia

Colombia

I think Tunisia will be the worst team at the competition. Tunisia qualified for the 2013 Afcon thanks to the away goals rule when a 2-2 draw in Sierra Leone was followed by a 0-0 stalemate at home in the last round of qualifying. I am not convinced.
IN NUMBERS

2 writers believe that Ghana will be victorious at the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations

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

3 of the writers tipped different players to be the best young player at the tournament

2 believe Drogba will finish the competition as the Player of the Tournament

2 writers predict Cape Verde will be the surprise package of the Afcon

0 writers think that Nigeria one of the favourites 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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