African Nations Cup Group D gets underway this afternoon, with Ivory Coast taking centre stage. The Elephants take on a Togo side sporting Emmanuel Adebayor and not a lot else and the team widely regarded as the finest in the competition should be steamrollering through this first match.
Ivory Coast v Togo
The mighty Ivorians boast the bulk of footballing galacticos hailing from the African continent and have not lost a game since 2010. Their unbeaten streak against fellow African nations, however, is even more impressive – not since Group D rivals Tunisia got the better of them in 2008 have they lost to a team eligible to compete in this tournament; a staggering 39 games ago.
At 1/3, their price for the win is about as short as you’d expect but, when you bear in mind that they’ve kept 11 clean sheets in their previous 15 outings, the win to nil grows in appeal.
It pays at a reasonable, if not earth-shattering, 4/5 and is a much more profitable alternative to the Ivorian’s offering in the match betting stakes. Should they keep Adebayor quiet – who is way down in the anytime goalscorer pecking order at 7/2 – they stand an excellent chance of ensuring this bet cops.
Interestingly, Ladbrokes are offering to return all losing first/last goalscorer punts as free bets should Didier Drogba – an 11/4 shot to achieve either feat himself – break the deadlock in Rustenburg.
Tunisia v Algeria
The Algerians are considered by some as outsiders with the capability to go all the way in South Africa and expect them to lay down a marker against Tunisia here.
Vahid Halilhodzic’s side are 13/8 favourites to beat their North African neighbours, despite Tunisia being favoured to qualify from the group, and this is an attractive enough proposition as it is. Statistically, however, the bet with the greatest chance of payout is that only one or neither team will find the back of the net in this clash.
The scary amount of stalemates witnessed in the competition to date means that 0-0 could be worth a punt at 11/2, but the 4/6 for the aforementioned eventuality to occur here looks steady given that it has been the outcome in eight of Algeria’s last 12 matches.
A defensively sound unit, the Fennec Foxes have won six of these clashes, with four of these victories yielding fewer than 2.5 goals. At 1/2 here, this is probably worth a swerve, but the 5/1 that says Algeria will inflict a second successive 1-0 defeat on the Tunisians looks tasty.
All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date