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The race to become Africa’s top football team is down to just four. Of our Observers’ first picks at the start of the tournament, only Ivory Coast failed to make the cut. This time, we asked them to give their forecast for the remaining fixtures.
But who's your bet for African champion? Which of the Pharaohs, the Black Stars, the Super Eagles and the Desert Foxes do you see lifting the cup? Send us your thoughts.
"A final between Algeria and Nigeria will be a real thriller"
Patrick Mbedi lives in Douala, Cameroon. He runs a website dedicated to the Indomitable Lions.The semi-final between Ghana and Nigeria will feature two heavyweights of African football, both of whom have won the cup before. I’d say Nigeria are the stronger of the two. They have loads more experience than the Ghanaians, even though the Black Stars can count on their speed and technical abilities.
The other match will no doubt be the most heated so far. It’s a great chance for Egypt to avenge their defeat to Algeria, which cost them a place at the World Cup this summer. On paper, the two rivals are of equal strength. They also know each other’s game by heart. I think whoever can best handle the tension will be the winner. But the momentum is clearly with Algeria. The holders were less than impressive against Cameroon and the pressure is on their side. I think a final between Algeria and Nigeria will be a real thriller.
"Ghana will falter in the final against the mighty Egyptians"
Paul Miti runs a Facebook group for fans of the Zambian Chipolopolos.Egypt will win this. They play the best football. Only Algeria can stand up to them, but given what happened two months ago I think the Pharaohs will have a stronger desire to win and avenge their elimination from the World Cup. The title holders can also count on the tournament’s best player in my view: their captain Ahmed Hassan. He has an unequalled ability to concentrate for the full 90 minutes of a match. Whether in defence, in midfield or in attack, he leads by example. Ghana will win the other semi. Nigeria’s aging team is no match for the youthful Black Stars. But Ghana will falter in the final against the mighty Egyptians.
"A match-up between Ghana and Algeria would guarantee an entertaining final"
Ghana will reach the final. They have a young and eager squad, whereas Nigeria have shown precious little in the tournament so far. If the Black Stars play as they did against Angola they have very little to fear. Their midfield has recovered well from the loss of Michael Essien and is looking stronger than its Nigerian counterpart, which tends to slacken in the second half.
I’d like to see Ghana take on Algeria in the final, because that would guarantee an entertaining game from start to finish. I’ve watched Egypt throughout the tournament and I don’t think they have progressed at all. In fact, they looked somewhat limited against Cameroon. In contrast, Algeria were very impressive against Ivory Coast. The Desert Foxes showed unity, fighting spirit and a true desire to win.
"Nigeria will have to come up with a perfect game to beat Egypt in the final"
Lasidy Diarra is a legal expert in Gao, in northern Mali.
The key match will be the semi-final between Egypt and Algeria. It will be either a confirmation of their World Cup qualifier or revenge for Egypt; and I’m betting on the second option. I think Nigeria will win the other semi. Ghana has a young team with a promising future, but the absence of Essien has left a huge gap in the squad. While they are more than a match for Nigeria physically, they still have a lot to learn in terms of technique.
Egypt are my favourites to win in the final. Nigeria will have to come up with a perfect game to beat them. They will have to be solid in defence and make the most of their counter-attacks. If they can get enough balls in the box and exploit Egypt’s weaknesses in the air, they just might pull it off.