Familiar faces can spark Ghana and Mali double in AFCON

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Ghana kick off Sunday’s African Cup of Nations action, with the Black Stars comfortable 4/9 favourites to see off out-of-sorts DR Congo.

Much confusion surrounds the 13/2 underdogs in this tie, with speculation rife regarding the future of coach Claude LeRoy, who is rumoured to have been sacked, or resigned from his post.

And whilst Congo’s sports ministry insists the Frenchman remains in charge, the nature of their preparation for this game makes even the draw look beyond them at 3/1.

Up against a Ghana side at full-strength, a victory for the favourites should be expected, particularly considering the impressive nature of their pre-tournament performances.

The 2010 World Cup quarter-finalists have bested Egypt 3-0 and Tunisia 4-2 in the build-up to the tournament, and should prove leading contenders to lift the trophy.

Much could depend on the form of Asamoah Gyan, with the former Sunderland man preparing to end his exile from tournament football for the country.

Gyan, eager to make up for a penalty miss in the AFCON semi-final last year, looks a very tempting option at 3/1 to open the scoring in this tie.

Elsewhere, Mali entertain Niger in Sunday’s later kick-off, hopeful of justifying 4/7 favouritism to claim all three points.

After achieving a third place finish at the tournament last year, Mali, captained by former Barcelona midfielder Seydo Keita, will fancy their chances of getting off to a winning start.

Minnows Niger, meanwhile, are in search of their first ever win in this competition, and are 5/1 to achieve it in this clash.

11/4 odds about the draw look about the best they could hope to justify however, and Mali to win giving up a goal head start would seem to have more appeal at 31/20.

That comes in light of no significant additions being made to the Niger squad that lost all three of their games in this competition last year.

Mali, in contrast, could place a heavier reliance on West Ham forward Modibo Maiga, who has shown flashes of quality in his brief Premier League career so far.

At 11/2, he looks massive to break the deadlock in this match.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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