2019 CAF Africa Cup of Nations Recommended Bets:
|Nigeria to win the Africa Cup of Nations||6/1||Betway|
|Wilfried Zaha to be Top Goalscorer||23/2||BetHard|
The two stories of the tournament so far concern a team making its debut at the Cup of Nations and another who have never before advanced beyond the group phase. The former side are Madagascar, a nation which found themselves in 190th place in the FIFA World Rankings as recently as 2014. The Barea were the first team to qualify for this tournament and then exceeded expectations by topping a group containing Nigeria, Guinea and Burundi, before squeezing past DR Congo on penalties in the first knockout round. Most interesting is the fact that, on the pitch at least, this is not your usual underdog story: Madagascar play proactive, possession-based football, and have exhibited impressive technical and tactical prowess.
Tunisia stand between Nicolas Dupuis’ men and a place in the semi-final – an opponent Madagascar will not fear. The North African side have not won a single game at the Cup of Nations so far, drawing all three of their Group E encounters and then edging out Ghana on penalties following a 1-1 stalemate in the round of 16. Tunisia are difficult to beat, though, and their tenacity and defensive resolve could see them through against a team who still lack experience in knockout, tournament football. One thing is for sure, though: virtually every non-Tunisian will be willing on Dupruis’ side.
Senegal Formidable Favourites
Benin’s achievement is perhaps not quite as incredible as Madasgascar’s, but they too deserve significant credit for making it this far. This is only their fourth appearance at the continent’s premier competition, and on the three previous occasions (in 2004, 2008 and 2010) they mustered a single point from a possible 27. It has been a different story this time around, with Benin drawing with Ghana, Cameroon and Guinea-Bissau in the group stage, then stunning Morocco on penalties last time out.
Like Tunisia, though, Benin are yet to win a game at this (or any other) Africa Cup of Nations. Facing Senegal, the new favourites following Egypt’s elimination, in the last eight surely means that their remarkable run is approaching the end. Aliou Cisse’s charges are desperate to make up for their disappointing exit at this stage of the 2015 tournament, and they are also looking to move beyond last summer’s somewhat unfortunate failure to make it to the knockout phase of a World Cup for the first time since 2002. With Sadio Mane leading from the front and Kalidou Koulibaly anchoring the defence, Senegal should be in for a comfortable evening against Benin on Wednesday.
Hardly anyone expected a hitherto underwhelming South Africa side to dump out the hosts in the last 16, but they fully deserved to triumph over the strangely lacklustre hosts. It is the type of result that will make South Africans believe that fate is on their side, but they again begin their quarter-final clash with Nigeria as underdogs. That may not be a bad thing for Bafana Bafana, but the Super Eagles are in good shape and their attacking dynamism could ultimately make the difference here.
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Nigeria The Value
Perhaps the standout clash of the last eight is Ivory Coast’s meeting with Algeria, which is also one of the most evenly balanced ties. The Ivorians were overshadowed by Morocco in Group D but that has arguably done them no harm, particularly after their golden generation often struggled to cope with the limelight and tag of favourites. Wilfried Zaha looks in ominous form having scored in his last two appearances – just one short of Mane and Odion Ighalo, the Crystal Palace winger could be an astute choice for top scorer at 23/2 with BetHard – while manager Ibrahim Kamara will be delighted with the defensive solidity his team showed against Mali in a 1-0 last-16 triumph.
Algeria are now North Africa’s best hope, and as the only side with a 100 per cent winning record they will fancy their chances of going all the way. They have not conceded a single goal in their four encounters thus far, and their attacking weapons were on full display in a 3-0 walkover against Guinea on Sunday. Perhaps the only reason they have not overtaken Senegal as outright favourites is because they are on the tougher side of the draw.
In terms of value, Nigeria look to be the best bet. Granted, they may have to beat Algeria and Senegal to lift the trophy, but they have grown into the tournament impressively and, by their standards, have gone under the radar so far. Take advantage of some slightly overpriced odds by backing the Super Eagles to triumph at 6/1.
Last Africa Cup of Nations Winners