An overriding sense of optimism is spreading across Ladrokes News towers that, after some disastrous tipping thus far, the second round of Group B matches at the African Cup of Nations will spark a landslide of winning bets and big paydays.
Ghana v Mali
Two of the stronger sides in the competition lock horns in Port Elizabeth and their meetings tend to follow a particular trend.
Four of the last six renewals of hostilities the final score has been 2-0. Three have been to the jubilation of the Ghanaians prior to Mali’s triumph by the same scoreline at this stage of the 2012 instalment of the competition.
For the Eagles to inflict the same fate upon their West African adversaries a handsome 14/1 is the dividend, while a Ghana 2-0 win pays more conservatively at 15/2.
A good insurance policy to take out if the correct score market brings back too many painful memories is the 11/5 that says there’ll be exactly two goals scored in this match.
With both teams capable of claiming the spoils, it’s difficult to determine who will get the rub of the green, but Mali – who are 13/5 underdogs for victory – have in-form Cheikh Diabate leading their line and he could be the difference maker.
He’s notched two goals in his previous three outings, as well as bagging a brace when the Malians knocked Ghana over in last year’s tournament. Bordeaux’s Diabate is a generous 8/1 to break the deadlock or, for the adventurous/reckless among us, 80/1 is the payout should he hammer home a treble.
Niger v Democratic Republic of Congo
Recent form suggests the on-pitch action could be about as unglamorous as this tie sounds on paper.
The Congolese have picked up one win in four, while their Saharan-dwelling opponents Niger have not sampled the taste of victory on seven of the previous nine occasions in which they’ve been let off the leash.
Of these nine games, Niger – whose 7/2 match betting price spells trouble – failed to find the back of the net six times.
Congo are odds-on favourites for the clash, though only just at 4/5. This slight favouritism, combined with the unpredictable nature of the African Cup of Nations and a few incidents of burned fingers earlier in the tournament, forms a triumvirate of reasons why we are emphatically suggesting against backing a win to nil for the Leopards at 13/8.
Instead, shovel your hard-earned on just one or neither team to find the net in this clash, which isn’t the shortest of prices at 4/6.
All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date