Ghana and Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien has tipped his national team and their Ivorian counterparts to reach the coming African Cup of Nations (ACN) final.
“The favourites will no doubt be Ivory Coast and Ghana, in my opinion, and possibly the surprise packages will be Mali or Senegal” the 29-year old player wrote in his latest blog.
Equipped with a lot of talented stars, Ivory Coast will act as a strong threat at the continental tournament that will run from 21 January until 12 February according to Essien.
“Ivory Coast probably have the best squad at the tournament and they don’t need any introduction. They have some of the top players in African football and will be a match for any team,” the former Lyon player, Essien, explained.
“The spine of their team includes the likes of Drogba, the Toure brothers, Didier Zokora and Kalou. And let’s not forget Gervinho who is doing very well at Arsenal and will be a handful for any defence.
"They always look strong on paper and although they have not won a tournament for a while and in actual fact haven’t made the final in any recent tournament, it is difficult to see past them. If they can get their squad to click and play as they do in the various European leagues for their clubs, then I can see them at least making the final."
Essien will miss the tournament, hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, due to a knee injury, but he is confident the Black Stars will be able to prove their worth without him.
“Then there is my beloved Ghana who were runners up two years ago and I have no doubt will be up there again this year. I can see us playing Ivory Coast in the final if our paths do not cross earlier. Unfortunately I am unable to be there and as a matter of fact the team were at the last African Cup and World Cup without me so there is nothing new there.
“The Ghanaian team is full of experienced tournament players mixed with hungry young players and that is a very good combination for this tournament. There is captain John Mensah, Asamoah Gyan, Andre Ayew and Sulley Muntari among many other players.
"This team knows how to play at tournaments and nearly made the semi-final at the last World Cup. They are a proper unit and play for the nation and that’s why I fancy them to make the final and probably win it,” he concluded.
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