Goal.com's K.N.S. Mensah describes his excitement at seeing four of Africa's top sides paired together in the pool stages of the continental show-piece...Finally the much-awaited draw for the group stages of the 2010 African Cup of Nations is over. All eyes are on Group B, in which Ghana, Ivory Coast, Togo and Burkina Faso will go to war.
These four countries have a great deal in common – they are all from West Africa, they share common boundaries and have some of the finest players on the continent.
It is surely the toughest group. The reigning African Player of the Year – Emmanuel Adebayor – comes from Togo. The top scorer in the last qualifiers, Moumouni Dagano, is in the squad of Burkina Faso, and Ivory Coast can boast of one of Africa’s finest strikers in the form of Didier Drogba. Meanwhile, Ghana take pride in having one of the world’s best midfielders: Michael Essien.
It would not be a surprise to pundits if the winner of the 2010 Nations Cup emerges from this 'Group of Death'. It is a group worth watching simply because it has two of Africa’s best teams – Ghana and Ivory Coast – who are all billed for South Africa 2010.
Any side that tops this group must be robust and combative. It certainly is not very easy to predict the outcome of this group, but it would not be out of the question to predict that one of the quartet - possibly Ghana or Ivory Coast - will be in the final.
Judging from the qualifiers Ghana are the favourites to top this group, followed by Ivory Coast, or vice versa. Football is full of surprises, but it would take something truly special for Togo or Burkina Faso to boss the two African titans.
The last time Ghana won the Nations Cup was in 1982. Many people in the country believe that this edition of the competition is the Black Stars' chance to lift the trophy after losing it in their own backyard in 2008.
Ghana beat Ivory Coast 4-2 in the third place match at the CAN 2008, but that was scant consolation for a semi-final loss.
The last time Ghana met Burkina Faso was in a World Cup qualifier in 2005, when the latter was beaten 2-1, but Togo beat Ghana 1-0 in their last international friendly.
The statistics favour Ghana, but the slightest moment of complacency could see the Black Stars taking an early shower.
Whatever the situation, none of these teams is too small or big for the other. They have an equal chance, and it seems that hard work and commitment will determine the table-topper, with none of them sailing through to the next round without a fight.
This will be a great advert for African football ahead of the World Cup, as the best of the beautiful game from the continent will be exhibited in this group.
K.N.S. Mensah, Goal.com