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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 January 2008, 10:45 GMT
Nations Cup pundit predictions
DesaillyEkokuRoseniorBrightMungaziHumphreyBrotherton

The 26th Africa Cup of Nations takes place in Ghana from Sunday 20 January to Sunday 10 February.

The tournament is expected to produce plenty of quality football on the pitch as well plenty of atmosphere and colour off it.

Our BBC team of Nations Cup experts explain what they expect to happen during the tournament and why they are looking forward to it.

Marcel Desailly
Marcel Desailly
World Cup winner and Unicef special ambassador to Ghana

Who are your favourites to win the tournament? Ivory Coast has potentially the best team.

They impressed a lot of people at the World Cup in Germany in 2006. They are the most complete team - they have a top striker in Didier Drogba but also good defenders and midfielders.

Are there any surprise packages to look out for? I do not think this will be a tournament for surprises but I am hoping for some.

I think that Angola have the players to do something special while Tunisia are a team with the technical capacity to do well. They are coached by former France boss Roger Lemerre, with whom I won Euro 2000.

606: DEBATE

Which players should we keep an eye on? Things have changed - 10 years ago we might have discovered a player and thought 'who is he, where is he playing, I would like to buy him at a cheap price'.

We know all the star players now and that they are playing in top leagues. For example, there is only one player in the Indomitable Lions squad who plays his domestic football in Cameroon.

What are you most looking forward to about the tournament? This is the first time I have covered the Africa Cup of Nations as a journalist and I am looking forward to ensuring the watching viewers know just exciting it is.

Efan Ekoku
Efan Ekoku
Former Nigeria international

Who are your favourites to win the tournament? If Ghana do not get to the last four it will be a catastrophe and they certainly have a team to go all the way. They are my favourites along with the Ivory Coast.

Bakary Kone in action for Ivory Coast
Ekoku has been impressed by what he has seen of Kone
Are there any surprise packages to look out for? I'd rule out any of the north African nations as I do not think they travel particularly well.

If Mali can produce a massive performance against either Nigeria or Ivory Coast and sneak through from their group then I think they could go a long way.

Which players should we keep an eye on? The stars will be the players who have already made their name in the European leagues.

However, a couple of players to keep an eye on and who might not be so familiar to British fans are Ivory Coast duo Bakary Kone and Aruna Dindane.

What are you most looking forward to about the tournament? I am waiting to be surprised by what happens.

Leroy Rosenior
Leroy Rosenior
Former Sierra Leone international

Who are your favourites to win the tournament? If I had to put some money on it then I would say Nigeria.

Are there any surprise packages to look out for? I think that there will be three or four dark horses. A lot of people have talked about Guinea but I would go for Mali.

Which players should we keep an eye on? There is going to be someone who few people know about who is going to become a superstar.

We know about the likes of Michael Essien and Didier Drogba but if they are not quite fit then someone will come out of the pack, perhaps somebody from the likes of Guinea or Benin.

What are you most looking forward to about the tournament? What makes this tournament exciting and unique, more exciting that the European tournament, is that it is like a show, it will be an event that will make you smile.

Mark Bright
Mark Bright
BBC Sport pundit

Egypt fans celebrate winning the 2006 tournament
Bright was impressed by the atmosphere in Egypt
Who are your favourites to win the tournament? Ghana, as the host nation, have a good chance but for me the team that should have won it two years ago are Ivory Coast. They are organised, they play the best football and were unlucky last time.

Are there any surprise packages to look out for? There are quite a few strong nations at the tournament. Senegal, Nigeria, Guinea, Tunisia - they all play some great football. The list could go on.

Which players should we keep an eye on? The names you recognise are the people who will be the stars.

What are you most looking forward to about the tournament? The atmosphere will be fantastic. In Egypt last time there was chaos and confusion but there was an incredible passion and it was a very real tournament.

Farayi Mungazi
Farayi Mungazi
BBC World Service presenter

Who are your favourites to win the tournament? Ivory Coast - they have the most experienced and balanced team. At least, that is, on paper. I do not think Ghana will be able to handle the pressure of being the host nation.

Are there any surprise packages to look out for? Keep an eye out for Mali. They are in a very difficult group with Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Benin but I think that they will go a long way if they qualify from their group, which I think they will.

Which players should we keep an eye on? One player to watch is Ivory Coast's Yaya Toure. He is the brother of Arsenal defender Kolo and a very solid player. Yaya is a better player than his brother and part of the reason why I think the Ivory Coast will do so well.

Another to keep an eye out for is Egypt's Mohamed Aboutrika. He is a very good attacking player.

What are you most looking forward to about the tournament? I'm looking forward to seeing some good football, great goals and hopefully the Ivorians going one better than last time, when they lost in the final.

Jake Humphrey
Jake Humphrey
BBC presenter

Who are your favourites to win the tournament? I cannot look past home nation Ghana but I think that the absence of Stephen Appiah is a big loss. My second favourites are Nigeria. I think Berti Vogts and Steffen Freund will have them well organised.

Are there any surprise packages to look out for? Perhaps Benin given the excitement that surrounds them qualifying for the tournament. They will not win it but it would be great if they could give a good account of themselves.

Which players should we keep an eye on? I'm looking forward to seeing Ivory Coast midfielder Emerse Fae. Reading paid 2.5m for him in August but he has hardly played for them. I'd like to see him do well.

What are you most looking forward to about the tournament? The razzmatazz, the excitement and the buzz. I think the tournament will be unreal in terms of atmosphere.

Simon Brotherton
Simon Brotherton
BBC commentator

Who are your favourites to win the tournament? Host nations always seem to do well and I think it will be the same here. If Ghana had a Samuel Eto'o or a Didier Drogba up front then I would fancy them strongly. Ivory Coast would be my other pick. If they can deal with the loss of coach Ulrich Stielike they have a very good chance.

Injured Ghana captain Stephen Appiah
The absence of Appiah is a big blow to host nation Ghana
Are there any surprise packages to look out for? I don't think we will see surprises in terms of lifting the trophy. I think we have gone beyond that, but we might see the equivalent of Ireland at the cricket World Cup, who caused a major surprise by beating Pakistan.

Which players should we keep an eye on? Compared with previous tournaments I think there is less chance of seeing someone come through from nowhere.

What are you most looking forward to about the tournament? There is a real sense of adventure about covering the tournament that you simply do not have with the Premier League.

After returning to England in 2006 I really missed the rhythmic music that is constantly played in the games in Africa.



SEE ALSO
Africa Nations ready for kick-off
18 Jan 08 |  Africa Cup of Nations
Desailly on Africa Cup of Nations
18 Jan 08 |  Africa Cup of Nations
Ghana gears up for the Nations Cup
12 Jan 08 |  Africa Cup of Nations
Nations Cup Squad Selector
15 Jan 08 |  Africa Cup of Nations


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