2012 African Cup of Nations latest odds, news and free bets

The African Cup of Nations has begun, with Gabon and Equatorial Guinea hosting a 16-team tournament which will see some of the best footballing nations compete over a three-week period

We have already witnessed a mini-shock in the tournament, with the fancied Senegal losing to Zambia thanks to the latter storming into a two-goal lead within twenty minutes. Dame N’Doye’s goal in the 70th minute could only serve as a consolation.

Senegal have matches against Equatorial Guinea and Libya to save themselves and progress into the quarter finals, with the bookies lengthening the Lions of Teranga to 8/1 (Paddy Power £100 free bets) which makes them third favourites.

It is Ivory Coast who have been well backed in the lead up to the 2012 African Cup of Nations and it is easy to see why people are expecting The Elephants to go a long way in this competition.

Didier Drogba might be entering the twilight phase of his career, although he is still a fearsome front man for Chelsea and the Côte d’Ivoire, while Yaya Toure, Gervinho and Salomon Kalou add lots of quality to a team who have been unlucky with the draw in recent World Cups.

You can get 6/4 with bet365 that the 1992 champions lift the trophy once again, although they have regularly disappointed as favourites in subsequent years and 2006 was the only other year that the Coast reached the final.

There are plenty of other teams expecting to reach the business end of the tournament and that includes a Ghana team who were pretty impressive during the 2010 World Cup and were essentially unlucky to go out at the quarter final stage against Uruguay.

The Black Stars have a great recent track record after finishing third in 2008 and then second in 2010, so perhaps they are the each-way bet at 4/1 (Ladbrokes bookmaker) and they will have an experienced coach in Goran Stevanović leading them forward.

The highlight game of the group stage is probably Morocco v Tunisia on 23 January, where two of the tournament favourites will look to make a flying start in Libreville.

The Moroccans include Marouane Chamakh in their squad and the Arsenal forward is a key figure for a nation that have a pretty lousy record in the African Cup of Nations. They failed to qualify in 2010 and recent appearances have seen them go out at the first round stage.

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