AFCON 2021: The favourites to win – ranked

After a long wait, the postponed Africa Cup of Nations in 2021 will finally take place, bringing together the top players to compete for continental glory.

Among the 24 teams that have arrived in Cameroon, there are more than a few that can realistically hope to win the trophy at the end of the tournament.

List of top 10 competitors is as follows…

10. Mali

There’s hope for Mali in this tournament, as they have some serious firepower and a favorable path to the knockout stages.

You may expect them to create an impression in Group F with the help of the likes of Yves BisSOUMA, Amadou HaidarA and Moussa Djenepo, three of their most prominent players.

There is some question about how far those talents will be able to lead the team, but Mali should have a good run.

9. Ghana

winners on four occasions The tournament could be long or short for Ghana. After a few weeks, we’ll know a lot about their pedigree thanks to their grouping with Gabon and Morocco in Group C.

Expect tremendous things if they can get it going quickly. Partey is anticipated to lead the charge, but Kamaldeen Sulemana and Mohammed Kudus are likely to shine as well.

Ghana has a strong core of players, but they may not have enough if they are forced to compete with the heavyweights.

8. Tunisia

Tunisia’s luck hasn’t been in on this one. If they want to advance to the quarter-finals, they’ll have to overcome either Algeria or the Ivory Coast in Group F.

That’s not completely out of the question. Powered by Wahbi Khazri and featuring Ellyes Skhiri and Hannabal Mejbri in the midfield, Tunisia have a lot of talent on the pitch.

Although to be honest, that doesn’t appear likely.

7. Morocco

Hakim Ziyech, the leading scorer in AFCON qualification, has been dropped from the squad following a conflict with manager Vahid Halilhodzic.

This means that in Ziyech’s absence, the bulk of the work will fall to Achraf Hakimi and Youssef En-Nesyrian, with Sofiane Boufal and youthful llias Chair ready for action.

Dropping Ziyech is a major decision that could impede Morocco’s real progress.

6. Nigeria

If Victor Osimhen of Napoli, Paul Onuachu of Genk, or Emmanuel Dennis of Watford had made the trip, Nigeria would be far higher on this list.

However, they still have a level of quality that can’t be ignored. Kelechi Iheanacho, Moses Simon, and Samuel Chukwueze head Nigeria’s attack, but the absence of three of their star players will certainly leave them rueing wasted opportunities.

In order to avoid Algeria in the last 16, Nigeria’s Super Eagles will need to conquer Egypt in Group D.

5. Cameroon

The home team, Cameroon, not only has the benefit of playing at home, but they also have a diverse roster of talented players in many positions on the field.

Cameroon’s attack is their most potent weapon, and goalkeeper Andre Onana will love watching Andre-Franck Zambo Anguissa in midfield in front of him.

Karl Toko Ekambi, Vincent Aboubakar, Ignatius Ganago, and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting form a formidable force in the last third of the floor.

4. Egypt

Mohamed Salah, Egypt’s best player, leads an above-average team.

Assuming no other opponents can find a method to stop Salah, most of the team’s hopes will rest on his shoulders, but only if no one else can figure out how to stop him.

That would be a problem for Egypt, which does not have any other true superstars on its roster. If they want to win, they’ll need Salah.

3. Ivory Coast

Maintain a close eye on Group E. Ivory Coast are one of the tournament favourites and will have to butt heads with another contender – and current holders, Algeria, for a simpler route to the final.

On paper, that may appear to be a tall order, but Les Elephants own a massive roster brimming with talent capable of defeating any opponent on any given day.

Sebastien Haller is in fine form in attack, and he is ably assisted by Wilfried Zaha, Franck Kessie, and Nicolas Pepe in the attacking third. The Ivorians have arrived in order to compete.

2. Algeria

We’ve talked a lot about how frightening confronting Algeria will be, and with reason. The defending champions remain unquestionably one of the continent’s best teams.

Algeria are as frightening as any side here with Riyad Mahrez, Islam Slimani, and Said Benrahma in attack, but they also have potential in midfield and at full-back, where Ramy Bensebaini and Youcef Atal can cause havoc.

Algeria, if they finish above the Ivory Coast as projected, would be favourites for every match they play until at least the semi-final, so look for them to make a late statement.

1. Senegal

Few squads are as talented as Senegal. Everywhere you look, there are stars.

Sadio Mane is outstanding up front, Kalidou Koulibaly may be the tournament’s greatest defender, and Edouard Mendy will be in the running for the Golden Glove.

However, this is simply the tip of Senegal’s iceberg. Their strength in depth is unmatched, and they are the top-ranked African team in the FIFA rankings for a reason. Senegal’s failure to reach the final indicates that something has gone badly wrong.

What do you think?

Written by Babatunde Okerayi

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