MTNFooball.com brings you a quick guide to the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations groups and who will advance to the quarter-finals.
Who should advance: South Africa and Morocco. Both Cape Verde and Angola are likely to give these two a run for their money, but South Africa’s homeground advantage and Morocco’s quality should see them safely through.
The Dark Horses: Cape Verde. The tiny island nation will be no pushovers with all their Portuguese-based players, just ask Cameroon. They have the potential to cause an upset, but might also be overawed by the stage.
Wooden spoonists: Angola. Palancas Negras have been to each of the last four Nations Cup tournaments and have two quarterfinal showings from that. But they are also an aging team and Manucho aside, there is not that much quality there.
Who should advance: Ghana and Mali. These two contested the third-place play-off match at the last Nations Cup tournament in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon, with the Maliens coming out on top. They are some way ahead of the rest of the group in terms of ability and it would be a major surprise were they not to make it through to the next round.
The Dark Horses: DR Congo. But having said that … DR Congo are a team on the up and ably led by the wily old Frenchman Claude LeRoy. They certainly have the ability to spring a surprise, but as LeRoy admitted himself, they are a “decent” team, not a “strong” one.
Wooden spoonists: Niger. In Niamey? Unbeatable. Out of Niamey? Can’t win a game …
Who should advance: Zambia and Nigeria. It should be a breeze for these two through the pool stages, even if Nigeria are not quite the force of old. Zambia have also struggled a bit with form since lifting the Nations Cup trophy earlier this year, but they remain a team packed with quality.
The Dark Horses: None
Wooden spoonists: Battle between Burkina Faso and Ethiopia. Ethiopia are a one-trick pony with their forward Saladin Said, take him out of the game and they offer little. Burkina Faso have some good players, but can’t seem to get it together as a team.
Who should advance: Cote d’Ivoire and Algeria. This is the toughest pool to call, but if you look at form since the last Nations Cup finals then it should be these two who go through. Both have had team good enough to win the tournament in the past, but have failed to get over the line.
The Dark Horses: Tunisia. Tunisia battled to qualify for this competition, riding their luck against Sierra Leone to make it this far. But they have a squad capable of beating anybody on their day, the problem for them is those days are few and far between.
Wooden spoonists: Togo. Togo have their talisman Emmanuel Adebayor back with them, but appears to be fighting almost a one-man battle. The squad was badly shaken by the events prior to the 2010 Nations Cup in Angola and many of them have probably yet to fully recover. Perhaps this will be part of the healing process.
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