Africa's continental trophy is up for grabs for the second consecutive year and Al Hain-Cole expects favourites Cote d'Ivoire to finally live up to their potential in South AfricaDespite a tournament taking place just one year ago, the Africa Cup of Nations is back again on Saturday after the event was moved from even to odd-numbered years in order to avoid clashing with a World Cup season.
This gives Cote d'Ivoire an immediate chance to bounce back from last year's shock final penalty shootout defeat to Zambia, when Didier Drogba and the Toure brothers failed to live up to their tag as heavy favourites by leading their side to glory.
Despite that disappointment, the strength in depth at coach Sabri Lamouchi's disposal makes it impossible to look past them to take home the trophy this time, at odds of 13/8 (2.63) with Paddy Power.
This bet is particularly attractive considering Paddy Power's offer to refund any losing outrights should the team be knocked out on penalties, as it is hard to see Les Elephants losing in normal time.
It is a mark of how unexpected their victory was last year that current champions Zambia are available at a generous 12/1 (13.00) to retain their title this campaign, but having just sneaked through qualification with a penalty shootout victory over minnows Uganda, they hardly seem likely to upset the apple cart once again.
Ghana have won this competition on more occasions than any other side taking part in South Africa, but may struggle to add to their four titles without big names Michael Essien, Sulley Muntari and Andre Ayew, and are therefore available at a generous 6/1 (7.00) to come out on top.
South Africa have home advantage and a relatively easy group featuring Angola 33/1 (34.00) and Cape Verde 66/1 (67.00) in their favour, so could be a decent outside bet at 9/1 (10.00).
However, final Group A opponents Morocco boast an array of top level European-based players throughout the side, from Udinese's Mehdi Benatia at the back, to Getafe's Abdelaziz Barrada and Younes Belhanda of Montpellier in midfield, plus Fiorentina's Mounir El Hamdaoui up front.
The Atlas Lions have been resurgent since the appointment of Rachid Taoussi, and look like the dark horses to back at enticing 12/1 (13.00) odds. That price is certainly worth an each-way stake for value hunters.
Nigeria will be confident of out-performing Ethiopia 150/1 (151.00) and Burkina Faso 40/1 (41.00) to emerge from Zambia's Group C, and with the experienced John Obi Mikel, Joseph Yobo and Brown Ideye leading a side featuring an exciting blend of domestically based players, they are not to be discounted at 8/1 (9.00).
Mali finished third in Equatorial Guinea last year, and have an excellent chance of escaping a group containing Congo DR 66/1 (67.00) and Niger 100/1 (101.00). Seydou Keita and Co. are available at inviting 14/1 (15.00) odds to break their continental duck.
North African rivals Tunisia and Algeria face off alongside Togo 66/1 (67.00) in Ivory Coast's group, and you can back them at 16/1 (17.00) and 14/1 (15.00) respectively to add to their solitary AFCON trophies.
Paddy Power will refund any losing outright bets on the Africa Cup of Nations if your selection is knocked out of the tournament on penalties
|Cote d'Ivoire to win the AFCON at 13/8 (2.63) with Paddy Power
||Morocco to win the AFCON each-way at 12/1 (13.00) with Paddy Power
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Al Hain-Cole is a Liverpool fan, experienced tipster and avid follower of European football. He specialises in accumulators and if you would like to read more from Al you can follow him on Twitter here.
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