South Africa our surprise pick to progress at the Africa Cup of Nations
With the Asian Cup in full flow, we are about to be spoiled with international football tournaments with the Africa Cup of Nations just days away.
Defending champions Nigeria failed to make it through qualifying, so we are already guaranteed to have new champions of the continent’s biggest competition.
But to get their hands on the trophy, the sides will have to start off quickly to avoid group stage elimination.
As the 16 nations put their final touches to their preparations, we have dug out four in particular that look good value to progress from their pool, yielding a very tempting four-fold at just shy of 10/1.
Home advantage seems to be the only thing going for stand-in hosts Equatorial Guinea, who look poor, with just one win in nine, that against fellow minnows Mauritania.
Congo look similarly poor, leaving Burkina Faso and Gabon the two that look nailed on to progress.
The former surprised many by reaching the final last year, but at 8/15 offer less value than Stephane Bounguedza’s side.
Gabon have only lost one of their last four meetings with Burkina Faso, and beat them in qualifying for the tournament, and should be sided with here.
The Eagles of Carthage looked impressive in qualifying, going unbeaten and conceding just one goal in a group containing Egypt and Senegal and look banker material in this ‘To Qualify’ market.
With a largely home-based squad, similarities to the aforementioned Burkina Faso side that did so well two years ago can be drawn.
Opponents Cape Verde, 2012 winners Zambia and DR Congo look set for a tough battle for second spot, but that should all be academic for Tunisia.
Every major tournament seems to throw up a ‘Group of Death’, and this pool looks just that, but it looks worth taking a chance with the outsiders of the quartet.
South Africa were a relative surprise package in qualifying, making it through at the expense of the defending champs, and have now lost just two games in their last 18 (one of them being against Brazil).
With the evergreen Bernard Parker and Bournemouth’s promising talent Tokelo Rantie leading the line Bafana Bafana might be in a position to trouble group-mates Algeria, Ghana and a Diafra Sakho and Demba Ba-less Senegal.
The Ivory Coast are rock-solid favourites to win the whole tournament, and are subsequently priced up at 2/11 to progress into the quarter finals, so backing them in this market doesn’t look worth the risk.
Instead, take a chance on Cameroon, a side who thrashed Les Elephants 4-1 in qualifying.
The Indomitable Lions haven’t tasted defeat since their World Cup exit last June, coping more than alright without the quality of Alex Song, and look to be safe bets to progress without him here.
They will need to turn their plentiful recent draws into victories to have a chance of winning the tournament, but progression looks assured.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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