Record of hosts makes South Africa wise punt to top Group A at ACoN

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Being tournament hosts certainly appears to be an advantage at the African Cup of Nations and this helps make South Africa worthy of consideration at 5/6 to progress to the knockout rounds as the winners of Group A.

South Africa were also the hosts on the first instance that the tournament was increased to 16 teams back in 1996 and they lifted the trophy with a 2-0 victory over Tunisia in the final.

They are prominent in the betting to repeat this achievement at 9/1 and have taken one positive step since their group exit at the last World Cup in appointing Gordon Igesund as manager, who has achieved vast domestic success with unfancied clubs.

However, South African football has seemingly taken a step backwards in recent years and therefore it is a big ask for them to go all of the way here.

Yet Zambia won the last African Cup of Nations with a team that was not the best technically, but had togetherness, while Greece pulled off a major surprise when triumphing at Euro 2004.

Although Group A is not the easiest on paper with Morocco, Angola and the potentially under-rated Cape Verde Islands, this is winnable for South Africa.

Since 1996, no team to have hosted the tournament has gone out in the group stages.

Furthermore, not included the tournaments that had shared hosts, the last four hosts have gone unbeaten in the group stages to advance to the latter rounds as group winners.

With Steven Pienaar retired from international football, the chances will largely hinge on the performances of Katlego Mphela.

He was particularly wasteful in the recent 1-0 friendly defeat to Norway, but does average a goal almost every other game in international football, which suggests he could be among the top scorers on home soil.

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

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.