The 28th edition of the African Cup of Nations kicks off in Gabon and Equitorial Guinea tomorrow. 16 teams–including the joint hosts who did not have to qualify–will play for 2 places in the final match scheduled on February 12. The big question is, of course, who will take the trophy.

Well, based on the objective measure of FIFA’s latest World Rankings, the top two African countries are: Cote D’Ivoire (ranked 18th in the world) and Ghana (ranked 26th). Either of these two should be favorites to win the tournament. The next two African teams on the rankings, Algeria (32th) and Egypt (36th), did not qualify for the tournament. Senegal, the fifth highest ranked African team in the world at number 43, did qualify and is the favorite of most fans, some English football writers (who like Newcastle) and a bit (for sentimental reasons) on this blog. We predict that the player of the tournament could be Ivorian Yaya Toure. (Our predictions come with a health warning though.)

I’m still trying to figure out how to watch it. American sports channels have never showed the finals live. I’ll probably buy some package online, like I’ve done with the last tournament played in Angola.

Not everyone is looking forward to the tournament of course. Jonathan Wilson in The Guardian asked whether African football is progressing. He concludes no, though he never really tells us why. (Read it for yourself.)

Anyway, back to festivities. VOA’s Sonny Young writes on his blog that a few artists have made tournament specific songs and music videos to go with it. Including Jon Loo K of Gabon’s “Africa Shootez Ballon” and Togolese duo Toofan’s “Africa Hooyee,” which we agree could be the musical hit of the tournament:

Of course The Elephants will have the last word. Tom pointed me to this song in honor of les Eléphants by Le Magnific.

Further Reading

Whose democracy?

In Israel, tens of thousands have demonstrated against the new right-wing government’s plans for judicial reform. But what of the Palestinian question? In this episode of the podcast, we discuss.