Zambia came out of the clouds to claim the 2012 African Cup of Nations, winning 8-7 on penalties in the final, and there are a number of reasons to believe Honour Janza’s side are too big at 20/1 to repeat that success this month.
The AFCON has become the tournament nobody seems to want to win; of the four shortest-priced teams in the market, only 19/2 Tunisia and 9/1 Cameroon have captured their continent’s trinket since 3/1 favourites Ivory Coast took the laurels all the way back in 1992.
Between them, Egypt and Nigeria have won six of the 11 AFCON renewals over the past couple of decades, and four of the last five all told, but with neither of those countries involved this time round, the betting looks wide open.
Les Elephants boast by far the strongest team in the competition, with Yaya Toure as captain and Premier League flavour-of-the-month Wilfried Bony up front, but backing them in this has sent many a punter to the poorhouse over the years.
A pair of appearances as losing finalists, in 2006 and 2012, is all Toure’s lot have to show for since they last lifted the cup, so the favourites must be swerved at such a short price.
Algeria, replete with on-fire Spurs midfielder Nabil Bentaleb, took this prize two years prior to Ivory Coast’s last win, with fourth their best finish since in 2010. 5/1 about the North Africans holds no appeal.
Even Ghana, who have impressed in each of the past three World Cups, show little recent pedigree in the AFCON, having failed to land the trophy since 1982, although 9/1 about Avram Grant’s men seems big enough relative to others near the head of the betting.
It’s not as tempting as the 20/1 about Zambia though, as Chipolopolo go into this tournament in better form than prior to their 2012 success, after winning four, drawing three and losing just two of their fixtures since the end of the summer.
There’s a nice omen working in their favour too, with the tournament held in Equatorial Guinea, where Zambia played all five of their AFCON 2012 matches en route to the final in Gabon.
Don’t say you weren’t told.