Africa Cup of Nations – Senegal v Zimbabwe Preview (19/1/17)

Senegal preview

Aliou Cisse’s men got off to a winning start by beating Tunisia 2-0. It wasn’t all plain sailing though and they were fortunate to keep a clean sheet. Goalkeeper Abdoulaye Diallo was named man of the match but they can’t rely on that happening again, so a better defensive performance is required. Then again, Senegal have such powerful offensive weapons it also makes sense to play to their strengths and take the game to any opponent. They are the favourites in this fixture, a position they are used to so it should be a fairly comfortable situation. No new injuries are reported and the squad is in full health. A victory would ensure their passage into the quarter finals and would even result in them winning the group if Algeria failed to win the earlier match.

Zimbabwe preview

Nobody expected ‘The Warriors’ to pick up a 2-2 draw against Algeria. But it was no fluke and they deserved the point. To fall a goal behind to lead at halftime was especially impressive and their first 45 mins could’ve easily resulted in more goals. It was refreshing to see their approach against Algeria. It was no fear and they took the game to their opponents. I’m expecting something similar here. They know it’s unlikely trying to hold out for a 0-0 would result in a positive outcome, so I expect a fighting fire with fire approach. Zimbabwe are a close-knit team and all of the players know each other very well. This is a big advantage to have in a tournament like this.

Conclusion & betting analysis

Zimbabwe no longer have the ‘surprise factor’ which served them so well against Algeria. Senegal now have to take them seriously and I’m expecting the Lions of Teranga to claim another three points. However, it might not be without difficulty and Zimbabwe will put up a decent fight. I think this will be another open game. Both teams showed a willingness to attack in the opening round and there are some question marks about defensive stability. Even if Senegal do keep things much tighter at the back today, they are more than capable of scoring three goals themselves, so I’m happy to take over 2.25 goals. This line looks acceptable in a match I expect both teams to score. Something like a 2-1 or 3-1 Senegal win could be on the cards. The -1 handicap might cover but I’m not willing to risk it in a tournament where the short priced favourites have so far struggled to win and at very best only pushed on handicaps.

Prediction: Senegal 3-1 Zimbabwe

Recommended bet 1 unit: Over 2.25 goals @ 1.86 (minimum odds acceptable 1.70)