Senegal won all six qualifying games with ease and look to have one of the strongest squads in the competition. Perhaps goalkeeper is their weakest spot, Abdoulaye Diallo is average at best and never really played at a particularly high level. However, the backline should protect him well. Key man at the back is Kalidou Koulibaly, a man worth reportedly up to £50m in the current transfer market. The Napoli centre half will be alongside Anderlecht’s Kara Mbodji, whilst they look decent enough out wide with Lamine Gassama and either Saliou Ciss or Cheick MBengue at left back. There's depth in this area too and some of the players mentioned are big man mountains, literally physical beasts!
Midfield looks incredibly strong too, spearheaded by captain Cheikhou Kouyate & Idrissa Gueye. The likes of Diame, Cheick N’Doye and Henri Saivet are all battling out to make the starting XI too and a number of good players will be forced to start from the bench. It looks like Senegal will line up mostly in a 4-3-3 formation and all the attention will be on star attacker Sadio Mane. He’s been in great form this season for Liverpool and many will expect him to take this African Nations Cup by storm. Target man upfront will be Stoke’s Mame Diouf and watch out on the left wing for Lazio’s Keita Balde. He has been in good form this season. Senegal don’t lack for decent bench options in attack and have strength in depth.
Draw & outlook
Senegal are a very strong team and it’s a good job because they’ll have to win this competition the hard way. Their group contains Algeria & Tunisia who are no pushovers. After that, a quarter final date with either Gabon or Cameroon would probably ensue. It’s likely they’ll only have one easy game in the whole competition, which will be in the group phase against Zimbabwe. Senegal look like a major contender to me though. They have some incredibly strong physical players and we all know how important fitness and stamina is in a competition like this one. But they also have some great technicians along with fast pace going forwards. I think they are the complete package and I make them the favourites to win this African Nations Cup.
Group prediction: 1st
Overall prediction: Winners