Before the tournament started I picked Ivory Coast’s my favourites to win it and Zambia’s the surprise package of the tournament. Both teams have already qualified for the 2nd round.
Ivory Coast has won all 3 of their group games. Scoring 5 goals and have kept a clean sheet in all 3 matches. It has not been spectacular. They just do enough to win their games. The defense is looking rock solid. It will take something special to score against them. Ivory Coast coach Francois Zahoui rested 9 players for the crucial match against Angola and still the team was too strong and easily won 2-0. Guys like Didier Drogba and Yaya Toure will be well rested for the quarter final game this weekend against hosts Equatorial Guinea. They will be tested though but I still see being too strong for the hosts.
Flying the flag for Southern Africa!
Zambia has impressed me. Botswana and Angola have failed to progress towards 2nd round. But Zambia has won 2 games and played a draw in a water soaked pitch. I am even embarrassed that I picked them as surprise package. That’s how well they have played. I have elevated them to tournament favourites behind Ivory Coast. The way they beat Senegal (tournament favourites for some people) in the opening match made everyone take notice of them. So they are no longer a surprise team. Their captain and striker Chris “Crisis” Katongo has played a leading role in the 1st round for them. He creates, scores and leads the team well. Emmanuel Mayuka has been very dangerous upfront and scored 2 goals so far. He is strong in the air as Senegal found out and has pace.
The only worry I have with Zambia is when they have to defend. Their goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene can be erratic at times. Libya was able to find the back of the net against them easily. It is something they need to guard against for sure in the knockout stages as one mistake could mean catching the next flight home.
New Surprise Packages
A team that I feel could go all the way provided they get through to the 2nd round is Guinea. They lost the first game against Mali but then turned things around by thrashing Botswana 6-1. They have the players to do it