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Why the Africa Cup of Nations is the most exciting tournament in the world

by Josh Powell | January 15, 2013
40/1 LONG SHOTS: Zambia were huge outsiders to lift the trophy in 2012

40/1 LONG SHOTS: Zambia were huge outsiders to lift the trophy in 2012

By Josh Powell | Africa Cup of Nations

The Africa Cup of Nations is back and is, without doubt, the most exciting tournament in the world. Unless of course the higher powers commission my jelly wrestling competition between The Saturdays, Girls Aloud and Little Mix, then the Africa Cup of Nations would be a close second. But for now it’s unpredictability and drama is unrivalled.

In the last four tournaments there have been 125 games and only eight per cent of them have finished goal-less. If you like your national competitions full of net-busting action you need to book out the couch and the remote for the next three weeks and make yourself comfy. These lads score more often than Lucy Banghard and there’s never any shortage of end-to-end drama.

Since 2006 there have been 319 goals which is, on average, more than 2.5 goals every game. It is a footballing feast for the goal-hungry fans and in 32 games last year there was only one 0-0 result as the teams hit the target more often than a trained assassin on some of Lance Armstrong’s ‘special pills’.

The Africa Cup of Nations is one of the most open national tournaments which isn’t good news if you’re 13/8 favourites Ivory Coast, but a cracking revelation if you fancy a cheeky punt on the underdog. Whether it’s attempting to pull a solid 9/10 in a nightclub, believing your Fiat Cinquecento can overtake a tractor or trying to chug a gallon of milk, the underdog will always attract plenty of support.

There have been 14 different winners of the tournament since 1957 with Egypt winning it on a record seven occasions. In the history of the World Cup there have been just eight winners and there have been just nine winners of the European Championships. Egypt won the competition in 2010 after Paddy priced them up as 8/1 shots and then 40/1 Zambia shocked everybody by winning last year.

Paddy’s been revising his Africa football hard so as not to be caught out again but this year’s tournament looks tougher to guess than Taylor Swift’s next boyfriend. Ivory Coast are the 13/8 favourites but Ghana at 6/1 will be a real threat. Last year’s semi-finalists and 2010 runners-up should qualify convincingly from Group B and set up a tasty potential final clash with the Elephants.

Nigeria have reached four semi-finals in the last six tournaments and John Obi Mikel and Victor Moses will be trying to lift some silverware with the Super Eagles at 8/1. The enjoyment of playing football without a misguided Spanish man shouting footballing clichés at a misfiring striker could spring new life into the Chelsea duo.

The hosts South Africa aren’t expected to be far away and have seen some support at 9/1. Almost 40 per cent of the time the Africa Cup of Nations is won by the team hosting the competition which puts Bafana Bafana at an immediate advantage.

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