Africa Cup of Nations 2012: Why Ivory Coast Will Dominate

Dan RenfroCorrespondent IIIJanuary 21, 2012

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 20:  Yaya Toure, Romaric, Didier Drogba and Guy Demel of Ivory Coast line up in a wall during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Group G match between Brazil and Ivory Coast at Soccer City Stadium on June 20, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa.  (Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images)
Martin Rose/Getty Images

Heading into the Africa Cup of Nations, Ivory Coast are the clear favorite.

Their opponents are sub-par, their players are focused and they are the most talented team. Therefore, there's no reason to think Ivory Coast will lose this tournament.

In the latest FIFA Rankings, Ivory Coast are the top ranked team in Africa, and not many other qualifiers are close. After the Elephants, five of the top seven African countries did not even qualify for the tournament.

No other African nation is in the Top 25, which means the other teams will have a tough time competing with Ivory Coast. Ghana are the second-best team; however, after them, no country strikes much fear into anyone.

Just look at Group B—after 18th-ranked Ivory Coast (No. 1 in the region), the other countries are 66th-ranked Burkina Faso (14th), 85th-ranked Angola (19th) and 120th-ranked Sudan (30th).

Ivory Coast might not even break a sweat in group play.

At some point, the Elephants might face Ghana or Senegal. So what? There won't be much competition until then.

Even without the toughest competition, Ivory Coast's players are focused. Midfielder Cheik Tiote looked at the empty trophy cabinet and said, "We have to win this Cup of Nations."

He is a tough, young player who understands the importance of actually winning trophies. The Elephants are usually one of the better teams, but they haven't been impressive in big tournaments.

NELSPRUIT, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 25:  Didier Drogba of the Ivory Coast reacts during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Group G match between North Korea and Ivory Coast at the Mbombela Stadium on June 25, 2010 in Nelspruit, South Africa.  (Photo by Camer
Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Whether it's poor focus (2010 Cup of Nations vs. Algeria) or bad luck (2010 World Cup Group of Death), Ivory Coast have come up small in big tournaments.

Didier Drogba seemed to downplay the importance of winning, simply stating that their "ambition is to improve on two years ago when we were eliminated in the quarterfinals."

When a young player and seasoned player are both that focused, good things usually happen. The team is ready to take the trophy, and their focus is evident.

At the end of the day, Ivory Coast are the most talented team in the competition.

With Yaya Toure, Gervinho and Drogba, to name a few, the Ivorians have the deepest team on the continent. Yes, Ghana have Kevin Prince-Boateng and Senegal have Demba Ba, but they are not enough to say Ivory Coast are inferior to anybody.

Talent isn't the only thing that's necessary to win. However, it sure helps.

Ivory Coast are the most talented team, which puts them one step ahead of the other teams.

With such weak competition, a laser-sharp focus and supreme talent, Ivory Coast will dominate the Africa Cup of Nations.