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Oliseh tips Ivory Coast for AFCON glory

06 February 2015, 15:20

Lagos - Former Nigeria captain Sunday Oliseh has backed Ivory Coast as outright favourites to lift the Africa Cup of Nations trophy, although he admits he cannot dismiss Ghana's chances.

This year's AFCON final will be an explosive showdown as the two powerhouse soccer nations met at this stage of the tournament in 1992, where Cote d'Ivoire were crowned champions after beating the Black Stars in a marathon shootout.

However, the Elephants have lost on penalties in their last two finals, against Egypt in 2006 and Zambia in 2012. Ghana, meanwhile, last won the tournament some 33 years ago.

And Oliseh, who won the Nations Cup with the Super Eagles in 1994, claimed Ivory Coast are heading to the final as the top dogs, but they must also be wary of an impressive Black Stars outfit.

"Cote d'Ivoire is clear favorite to win the final and if I didn't know better I would tip them to be crowned champions come final day. Finals are the most difficult to predict in soccer," said Oliseh on his personal website.

"Player for player, Cote d'Ivoire have better individual players as Ghana and they are playing better as a team now, especially when they are not in possession.

"A better regrouping defensively and a constant change of pace with bursts of speed forwards from the midfield that is so well complimented by Wilfried Bony's strength and versatility in front is quite remarkable and worth taking into consideration by Ghana."

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However, the former Nigeria captain said he has been impressed by Ghana in this year tournament.

"Ghana are quite impressive and in (Christian) Atsu and the Ayew brothers (Andre and Jordan) are quite becoming unpredictable and champion material," Oliseh said.

"They go into this final as underdogs but with less pressure, unlike Cote d'Ivoire, due to the fact that not many would have bet on them coming this far when the tournament kicked off.

"Ghana's key to victory depends on how they are able play compact and deny the Ivorian's room, try to dictate the tempo of the game and their nerves."

He insisted this final could well be decided by a mistake.

"It is a final and near impossible to predict as Africa's two best teams of the moment trade tackles. It is just one game of 90 minutes (plus a possible extra time of 30 minutes) and one lack of concentration from a free kick could just make the difference," he forecasted.

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