Every Premier League manager’s delight – the African Cup of Nations – is soon to get underway with Ivory Coast heavily fancied to make amends for last year’s surprise penalty shootout defeat to Zambia by winning the competition.
However, as they found out last year, having the strongest squad on paper counts for little when the action gets underway and there are plenty of teams capable of opposing the Elephants. One of these is North African contingent Algeria, who are situated in the midfield of the betting at 11/1.
The Ivorians can be backed at 7/4 which makes them clear favourites for success in South Africa, where they have been drawn alongside outsiders Algeria in Group D. Togo and Tunisia make up the numbers in this group, which gives the Fennec Foxes an excellent chance of following Didier Drogba into the quarter-finals.
Assuming they finish second, their hopes of success will hinge on where Nigeria finish in Group C. If one of Zambia, Ethiopia or Burkina Faso can somehow finish above the Super Eagles, Algeria will breathe a sigh of relief, having lost five of their six meetings with this opposition.
If they can navigate this then they stand every chance of claiming an unanticipated victory, akin to the miraculous victory Zambia pulled off in last year’s tournament.
A relatively favourable draw on its own hardly makes for a foolproof argument for investing your hard-earned in Algerian glory.
However, when you consider the fact that they eased through to the group-stage where some bigger names struggled (or were eliminated in Cameroon’s case) and the fact that they demonstrated some defensive fortitude in the previous tournament hosted in South Africa – the 2010 World Cup – their chances look a little bit rosier.
Furthermore, in Sofiane Feghouli, they boast one of the most gifted creative midfielders in the tournament. He plies his trade at the highest club level and is a key man in the Valencia squad.
In addition to him, two of their strikers have made blistering starts to their international careers and any team with goals in it is capable of achieving beyond its means. Islam Slimani has netted five goals in six appearances for his country, while El Arbi Hillel Soudani has celebrated six goals after eight appearances.
If these two can bring this form into the African Cup of Nations then Algeria have every chance of causing a few upsets in South Africa and their long shot price definitely rises in appeal, all things considered.
All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date