IVORY COAST are the 6-4 favourites to win the African Cup of Nations but bookies and punters are in disagreement over the biennial tournament.
The West African team, which boasts the talents of Didier Drogba, the Toure brothers, Cheick Tiote and Gervinho among others have long been regarded as the most star-studded of squads but have failed to live up to the hype by not winning the event since 1992.
However, perhaps wise to the fact the Ivory Coast are Africa’s equivalent of England’s so called “golden generation” punters have instead been latching on to Senegal as the popular bet, pushing down their price from 10-1 before Christmas to a current 11-2 third favourite with Paddy Power.
The “Demba Ba effect” is also thought to have played a part in making Senegal the worst result on Paddy Power’s book with the Newcastle striker’s festive form in the Premier League apparently spurring a spate of bets on his country.
World Cup quarter-finalists Ghana are 9-2 second favourites but with some of the traditional heavyweights of the tournament missing in the likes of Cameroon, Nigeria and Egypt – winners of the last three tournaments – Tunisia (11-1) are the only team left who have won a title since 1992.
It's 20-1 that either of the joint hosts Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, who open the tournament against Libya on Saturday, lift the cup.
Not surprisingly the top two in the betting are the favourites to make it to the final with a Ivory Coast v Ghana final showdown at 2-1.
An Ivory Coast v Senegal final could be the one for neutrals given the scoring prowess of the two teams and is second favourite at 9-4.
Top scorer market is dominated by Premier League stars, mostly from Senegal and Ivory Coast.
Chelsea’s Didier Drogba is 4-1 but you've got to fancy free-scoring Ba at 6-1.
Paddy Power are also betting on the top Premier League scorer in the tournament with Drogba 2-1 favourite in that ahead of Ba at 11-4. Newcastle’s new signing, Ba’s Senegalese team-mate Papiss Demba Cisse, is 6-1.
The group stages look like being a relatively easy ride although Group C could be argued to be this particular tournament’s toughest with Morocco, Tunisia and Gabon all vying for top spot or at least progression to the quarter-finals.
Paddy Power’s African Cup of Nations outrights: 6-4 Ivory Coast, 9-2 Ghana, 11-2 Senegal, 8-1 Morocco, 11-1 Tunisia, 16-1 bar.
Paddy Powers top scorers: 4-1 Drogba (Iv Coast), 6-1 Ba (Senegal), 15-2 Gyan (Senegal), 12-1 Sow (Senegal), Kalou (Iv Coast), Cisse (Senegal), 16-1 Gervinho
(Iv Coast), 18-1 Niang (Senegal),20-1 Jemaa (Tunisia), Y Toure (Iv Coast), 22-1 Chamakh (Morocco), 25-1 bar.
Group Betting: Group A – 4-9 Senegal; 5 Zambia; 7 Equatorial Guinea; 7 Libya. Group B – 1-4 Ivory Coast; 13-2 Burkina Faso; 15-2 Angola; 16 Sudan. Group C –
6-4 Morocco; 15-8 Tunisia; 11-4 Gabon; 9 Niger. Group D – 8-13 Ghana; 5-2 Mali; 6 Guinea; 14 Botswana.