Essien tips Ghana for Nations Cup title

Chelsea ace Michael Essien has tipped the Black Stars as huge favourites to win the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations which begins on 21 January.

The 29-year-old believes the Black Stars’ mix of veterans and new blood – a combination which saw them almost bag a place in the 2010 World Cup semi-finals – could well give them the edge.

“The Ghanaian team is full of experienced tournament players mixed with hungry young players and that is a very good combination for this year’s African Cup,” he said in an interview.

“There is captain John Mensah, Asamoah Gyan, Andre Ayew and Sulley Muntari among many other players

“This team knows how to play at tournaments and nearly made the semi-final at the last World Cup.

“They are a proper unit and play for the nation and that’s why I fancy them to make the final and probably win it.”

Essien also described teams Mali and Senegal as “surprise packages”, with the presence of experienced players in both countries threatening to upset the odds.

The midfielder is recovering from a knee injury and should be ready for action in the middle of this month.