Ethiopia will get their 10th African Cup of Nations underway when they take on reigning champions Zambia and, despite their lowly reputation within the world of football, current form suggests they are capable of upsetting the holders in Nelspruit.
Zambia v Ethiopia
After winning this tournament against all odds last year, Zambia almost didn’t make the plane for South Africa. They required a penalty shootout in qualifying to despatch an equally unrecognisable football force in Uganda.
Despite this, it comes as no surprise to see the Stopilla Sunzu-lead Zambians starting the game as long-odds favourites, rendering Ethiopia as the 11/2 underdogs and this price might well result in punters lining their pockets with some serious dough.
Putting their Ugandan toils to one side, Zambia have failed to find the net in any of their last four games, while they have only scored once in their previous seven.
Their outsider adversaries, in stark contrast, come into the tournament on the back of three wins in four and only once in their previous 11 outings have they failed to register a goal. They’re not the most proficient at keeping clean sheets but, given the favourites’ goalscoring troubles, an unthinkable Ethiopian win to nil pays out at a monstrous 15/2.
Nigeria v Burkina Faso
Unlike Zambia, Nigeria don’t have an opening game banana skin to avoid and should cruise past the minnows from Burkina Faso.
At 7/10, the Nigerians, who boast plenty of players plying their trade in Europe’s elite leagues, are very much worth a bet on their own before taking their current eight-match unbeaten streak into consideration.
Burkina Faso, who defeated the Central African Republic to book their place in the competition, have won just three of their previous 16 games and it’s highly unlikely they have it in them to see off the Super Eagles, as their price of 4/1 suggests.
One thing that they have working in their favour, however, is a strong backline.
In each of Burkina Faso’s last three games they have kept clean sheets and, while they only won one of them, a fourth in succession at 3/1 offers better value than their match betting price.
All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date