2019 CAF Africa Cup of Nations Recommended Bets:
|Senegal to win the Africa Cup of Nations||7/1||Bet365|
|Morocco to win Group D||7/4||Betway|
The 32nd edition of the CAF Africa Cup of Nations is historic for two reasons. For the first time, the tournament takes place at the end rather than in the middle of the European club season, a move which has been welcomed by players and managers alike. Also, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) have followed the lead of their European and Asian counterparts by expanding their continental competition from 16 to 24 teams. One thing that should remain unchanged is the sheer unpredictability of the tournament, which has been won by five different nations in the last five editions.
This year's bookmakers' favourite, Egypt, were victorious three times on the bounce in 2006, 2008 and 2010, and Cameroon defended their crown in 2002 having scooped the prize two years earlier. However, retention of the Cup of Nations is rare: before the Indomitable Lions at the start of the millennium, you have to go back to the mid-1960s to find a team (Ghana) with back-to-back triumphs to their name.
Little Chance for Defending Champions to Retain Crown
Cameroon - a 17/1 shot with Paddy Power - are the holders following their surprise success in 2017, but few expect them to repeat the feat this time around. A coaching duo of Clarence Seedorf and Patrick Kluivert may be high in top-class playing experience, but it is low on proven managerial nous. Winger Christian Bassogog was the player of the tournament two years ago, but a subsequent move to China was probably not the best choice in terms of his career progression.
Cameroon will want to prove a point after being stripped of hosting rights – those now belong to Egypt – late last year, but they are unlikely to do much more than progress from a group featuring Ghana, 8/1 with BetVictor, and Benin and Guinea-Bissau, both 225/1 with Paddy Power.
The Ghanaians are certainly ones to watch after a comfortable qualification campaign in which they conceded just one goal in eight games. National team stalwarts Andre Ayew, Jordan Ayew, Kwadwo Asamoah and John Boye will be key to the chances of a team coached by James Kwesi Appiah, who became the first black African coach to take the country to the World Cup in his first spell in charge. The Black Stars should top Group F, but they must ensure infighting does not set in as it has in the past.
The winners of that segment will face a last-16 clash with the runners-up of Group E, which is comprised of Tunisia , Mali, Angola and debutants Mauritania. The first-timers will be happy to simply win a game, but Angola have been touted as potential dark horses after beating Burkina Faso and the Mauritanians to top spot in their qualification group. They and Mali will hope to challenge Tunisia for top spot, but it would be wise to avoid backing the latter to go all the way due to their tendency to stutter when they are forced to take the initiative.
Salah and Co Raring to Go
Egypt, 5/1 with Betfair, are the strongest of the North African contingent and have been boosted further by CAF’s decision to stage the tournament on their soil. Mohamed Salah will be desperate to lift the trophy after injury affected his performance at last summer’s World Cup, but it is to be hoped that the Pharaohs show a little more ambition than they did both in Russia and at the 2017 Cup of Nations, when they were beaten by Cameroon in the final. DR Congo, Uganda and Zimbabwe should pose few problems in the group phase.
Group B similarly holds little fear for Nigeria, 10/1 with Bet365, who will be determined to return with a bang after unthinkably failing to qualify in 2015 and 2017. Nine points from nine is to be expected against Guinea, Madagascar and Burundi, but bigger challenges will await Gernot Rohr and co. thereafter. The Nigerians will have taken plenty of positives from last summer’s showing at the World Cup, when they almost qualified for the knockout stage ahead of Argentina, although it remains to be seen how well this young team will handle pressure as the tournament goes on and the stakes increase.
On an equal footing in the betting market are Senegal, 7/1 with Bet365, back among the continent’s leading sides after a few years in the relative wilderness. Last summer marked the Lions of Teranga’s first World Cup appearance since 2002, the year in which they won their only Cup of Nations to date.
They have not even made it beyond the group stage since a fourth-place finish seven editions ago, but falling at the first hurdle will surely be avoided as they prepare to pit their wits against Algeria, Kenya and Tanzania. Sadio Mane and Kalidou Koulibaly are coming off superb seasons at club level, while further quality is provided by Salif Sane, Idrissa Gueye and M’Baye Niang. Managed by the astute Aliou Cisse, Senegal will take some stopping this summer.
Group D is undoubtedly the group of death, with Namibia unfortunate to be drawn with three teams who harbour hopes of going deep in the competition in 8/1 rated Ivory Coast, Morocco and South Africa. Bafana Bafana were inconsistent in qualifying – they beat Nigeria away but also drew with Seychelles – and will probably have to finish as one of the best third-placed teams to progress to the last 16.
Ivory Coast’s golden generation has long since departed and they seem a tad underpriced; Morocco, a technically gifted team led by Herve Renard, a two-time Cup of Nations winner, represents the best bet in this section.
Last Africa Cup of Nations Winners