African Cup of Nations: Lucky pitch to bring more Burkina joy
The African Cup of Nations semi finals are upon us and, as we have done throughout this tournament – with limited success, it has to be said – we’ve dug deep and unearthed the best ways in which to rake in the coin on the four teams bidding to claim one of the two final spots.
Nigeria v Mali
Both of these teams have struggled to live up to their pre-tournament billing and have rather stumbled into the final four, though the Super Eagles raised their game significantly to see off the much-fancied Ivory Coast in the quarters.
Their 11/10 favouritism is warranted on these grounds alone, but when you consider the fact that Stephen Keshi’s men have not lost in 12 following this surprise win, there’s a case to argue that their price should, in fact, be shorter. Mali’s failure to win any of their previous three in 90 minutes compounds this belief.
There’s also the small matter of the head-to-head record to consider here. In six meetings, Mali have never once managed to beat Nigeria; three draws being their best result against their West African foes. These factors all conspire to poke holes in the underdog victory at 11/4 and drain every ounce of value from it.
However, the safest bet, based on recent results, must be for Nigeria to notch first here at 3/4.
The Eagles (not to be confused with their ‘Super’ adversaries) have gone behind in all but one game in this tournament while Nigeria, on the other hand, have bagged the opener in each of their matches.
Ghana v Burkina Faso
The pitch at the Mbombela Stadium has, from a cynics’ perspective, played a massive part in Burkina Faso’s dreamboat of an African Cup of Nations in which they have defied all the odds and reached the semis.
Each of their games have been played on the shabby surface in Nelspruit and the Stallions have conceded just the one goal on it. Ghana will be sampling it for the first time in this clash and this makes another Burkina clean sheet – they’ve got six in their last eight – worth backing at 12/5, even if the Black Stars are running riot of late.
They’ve won seven of their previous eight and three on the spin without concession on the way to the semis. They’re 10/11 for another victory here, but it’ll be interesting to see how they fare on Burkina’s lucky pitch.
Only two of the Stallions’ last seven (one of four in Nelspruit) have yielded more than 1.5 goals here and for this game to be another that falls short of that mark at 6/4 is the pick of the bunch on this one.
All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date