The Contenders: There are two teams that everyone is excited to see, and those two teams play each other in the first game of the tournament. Ireland vs Sudan is a matchup of two athletic, skillful teams. Sudan was the most exciting squad in 2011 in terms of sheer unpredictability. The players rise to the occasion when the crowd is on their side, but somehow disappoint when the atmosphere is less electric. Ireland is about as consistent as any team could hope to be. Four-time champions will always be a tournament favourite even if they have lost a few key players. I think Ireland will win this game handily, but I expect Sudan to score some nice goals. Ireland 6-4.
The Challengers: HUGE drop-off in quality after Ireland and Sudan, which is unfortunate because those two teams are significantly more entertaining against quality opposition. I'll give Serbia a nod and say that they're a possible challenger, but deep down I don't actually believe they'll make the playoffs. There are some decent players on Serbia, but only enough that they won't finish at the bottom.
The Pretenders: There are going to be some snoozer games in this group and unfortunately for the next three teams, they'll be the ones providing the service. Botswana, Scotland and Somalia are going to have a rough time in 2012 and the only reason they'll record points is because someone has to get them. Scotland was the whipping boy of Group D in 2011 and faired miserably. Botswana has regressed from being an OK, but never good team. Somalia is a new squad still trying to figure out who should play where and what the team strengths are. Thankfully there are three other groups to come.
Predicted Order of Finish