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Ghana and Ivory Coast have been tagged the hot favourites for the 2010 African Nations Cup…

The clock is ticking fast for the African Nations Cup kick off in Angola 2010. Starting on January 10, the 27th edition of the prestigious continental tournament will parade Africa’s finest players.

Any country can win the tournament but Ivory Coast, Ghana, Cameroon, Nigeria and Egypt are the favourites to lift the trophy. However, all eyes will likely fall on Ghana and Ivory Coast, who are in the same group and are both World Cup 2010 bound.

The group consisting of Ghana, Ivory Coast, Togo and Burkina Faso will be sweet and sour as the finest African football is expected to emerge here.

The Black Stars and the Elephants will be favoured to progress to the knockout stages, if statistics and analysis are anything to go by. Moreover, their players will want to use the continental tournament to showcase what is under their sleeves to justify their call up for the summer World Cup.

Ghana is star-studded squad with most players plying their trade in top European leagues. Without doubt Ghana possesses one of the strongest teams in the tournament. Their strength lies in the midfield. The likes of Michael Essien of Chelsea, Sulley Muntari of Inter and captain Stephen Appiah of Bologna solidify the midfield department.

Their defence is not so strong but with the return of deputy captain John Mensah things might begin to shape up well for the four-time African champions. But in order to make it in the finals they really need to massage the striking legs of their forwards. Their striking quality is too weak and would need to get a goal poacher who utilises the slightest chance.

The hosts of the 2008 African Cup of Nations are psychologically under pressure to become African Champions for the fifth time because they are one of the six representatives of the continent in the World Cup. They sailed through the qualification phase with impressive results.

They must maintain that level of consistency in the Angola 2010 tournament in order to progress to the winning stages.

Wigan’s Richard Kingson has kept a very good watch over Ghana’s goalpost and it would be a great opportunity for him to test his goalkeeping prowess ahead of the World Cup.

The main task of coach Milovan Rajevac is to qualify for the next stage and he cannot fail the West Africans.

Meanwhile, Ivory Coast, are going to Angola with one of the strongest squads. They lost painfully to Ghana in the third place game during the last Nations Cup.

Like Ghana, this is their second World Cup appearance and might use Angola 2010 as a litmus test to announce their comeback in next summer’s game.

Their star-striker Didier Drogba is in top form and will not allow any chance to slip in his way to gain the top scorer spot. He is the type of forward who plays with full force and utilises chances to his advantage. The Chelsea striker is the man to watch if any team wants to dash their hopes.

Ivory Coast is ripe to lift the trophy and all their hopes rest on players like Salomon Kalou, Emmanuel Eboue, Yaya Toure, and Didier Drogba to push the team to the summit of the African Cup of Nations in 2010.

2010 is a year for the West African giants - Ghana or Ivory Coast - to end their African Nations Cup trophy drought. Both teams are in good shape and would likely become a force to reckon with at South Africa 2010. Who is the favourite among the two to lift the CAF trophy – will it be Ghana or Ivory Coast? Angola 2010 has the answer.

K.N.S Mensah, Goal.com

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