Category Archives: Africa Cup of Nations

Africa Cup of Nations – Senegal v Algeria Preview (23/1/17)

Senegal preview

 The Lions of Teranga have already qualified for the quarter finals and will play against Cameroon. With that match upcoming, it makes sense to rest some players, especially those on bookings. Coach Aliou Cisse has confirmed that he’ll ‘make some changes’ although we don’t know exactly who will start and who won’t. This certainly doesn’t mean Senegal won’t care or anything and indeed I’m sure a number of guys involved will want to catch the eye and impress. They won’t lack for motivation anyway. However, some key stars are unlikely to be available, so for those who like the idea of backing Senegal at a big price then it’s something which has to be considered.

 Algeria preview

 The Desert foxes have been extremely poor in this tournament so far. A draw against Zimbabwe was followed by defeat against North African rivals Tunisia. The defence has been especially poor, conceding a number of chances and regularly getting blown open. Algeria's chances of making it to the quarter finals are extremely thin. They have to win and also hope Zimbabwe prevail. Even then, goal difference and potentially drawing of lots would be a the deciding factor. It’s a big ask to have to rely on Zimbabwe but you never know and all Algeria can do is win. Coach Georges Leekens is on his last legs and will probably get sacked after this tournament. He’s a lame duck manager and quite how much the players will care about him is highly questionable anymore.

Conclusion & betting analysis

 Because we don’t know the exact Senegal XI, it makes this game quite difficult to bet on. Algeria are the favourites because everyone expects them to beat a ‘weakened’ side. However, if at halftime it’s obvious Algeria have no chance of qualifying then it could lead to a demoralised performance. I wouldn't want to personally trust them anyway. The bet I like is over 2 goals. This should be an open game of football, most games containing these teams are. Algeria have to go for it and there's no reason why Senegal would operate defensively. I think over 2 around the 1.70 is worth a go. At worst this should end a push and I’m anticipating a wide open first half especially, containing quite a few chances.

 Prediction: Senegal 1-3 Algeria

Recommended bet 1 unit: Over 2 goals @ 1.70 (minimum odds acceptable 1.60)

Africa Cup of Nations – Guinea Bissau v Burkina Faso Preview (22/1/17)

Guinea Bissau preview

The huge underdogs in this African Nations Cup are enjoying themselves. They managed to obtain a point against host nation Gabon and scored a wonder goal against Cameroon, despite ultimately falling to defeat. Incredibly, a victory could potentially see them through to the knockout phase if Gabon drew or lost against Cameroon. I certainly think they’ll play without any pressure on their shoulders here and have absolutely nothing to lose. The approach of Guinea Bissau has to be applauded and I think they’ll be proactive as usual. It might be that a third match in the space of a week might be too much for them though, especially as there is now a change of venue to Franceville. All those high intensity minutes, followed by a trip across the country might catch up with them here.

Burkina Faso preview

The Burkina injury curse has struck again! Unfortunately, the Stallions lost two key men in the previous game, Jonathan Pitroipa & Jonathan Zongo. This a big blow for a team that often seems to struggle with fitness and injuries, but doesn’t lack for any heart. They have worked hard to draw against the supposed two strongest teams in Group A. Burkina now know that a win would see them qualify for the quarter finals and this is a position they simply have to take with only Guinea Bissau in their way. A draw could be potentially enough to see them progress if Gabon lose, so it’s possible the Stallions will have an eye on the other match. But right now all Paulo Duarte’s men can think about is winning. There should be enough quality in this team to get the job done and offensively they’ve looked fairly good in this tournament. But the extra pressure, expectations and condition of the squad are of concern.

Conclusion & betting analysis

I think this will be an open match. Both sides probably have to play for a victory and the only way a draw helps either is if Gabon are losing. Only then, and only late on would Burkina Faso think about settling for a draw. I expect them to come out firing though. Yes, they might have lost key playmaker Jonathan Pitroipa, but there’s still enough quality in this side, especially with the likes of Alain and Bertrand Traore around. Guinea Bissau have shown a tremendous attitude in this tournament and should ‘have a go’ as well. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they managed to score again. My first bet for the game is over 2 goals. This looks a juicy price in a match which could potentially be end to end. There’s no reason for either side to keep things tight for a long period of time. I’m also going to back Burkina Faso to win the game. A price of 1.90 is too big to turn down. With qualification strongly within their sights, the extra incentive should be too much for them not to obtain the result required against a team like Guinea Bissau.

Prediction: 1-3

Recommended bet 1 unit: Over 2 goals @ 1.97 (minimum odds acceptable 1.80)

Recommended bet 1 unit: Burkina Faso -0.5 @ 1.90 (minimum odds acceptable 1.75)

Africa Cup of Nations – Gabon v Cameroon Preview (22/1/17)

Gabon preview

The host nation are in danger of being knocked out before the quarter finals. This would be the first time since 1994 that this occurred to a tournament host. So Gabon will be desperate to avoid that distinction but need to really improve upon recent displays. So far, the Panthers have been well below par, only drawing against minnows Guinea Bissau and then labouring to a 1-1 draw with Burkina Faso. Gabon just haven’t ‘looked right’ although haven't been helped by the injuries to Mario Lemina and Johann Obiang. Their key midfielder is ruled out for the rest of the tournament whilst the left back won’t be fit to face Cameroon. Gabon could do without these problems. More and more Pierre Emerick Aubameyang is becoming an isolated star in the team. He’s scored in both games so far, but hardly had many opportunities and service to him has been poor, save for the excellent crosses from Denis Bouanga who is their one other shining light offensively.

Cameroon preview

The Indomitable lions know that a draw would be enough to see them progress. However, a defeat would almost certainly see them get knocked out of the tournament. Cameroon don’t seem like the sort of side who would be able to play for a draw anyway, their natural offensive nature would likely shine through most of the time. Hugo Broos’ men have looked quite good to me in this tournament. For an hour they outplayed Burkina Faso in a match they arguably should have won. They did well to come from behind to beat Guinea Bissau in their most recent affair and offensively I feel this team could have scored even more goals. Key striker Vincent Aboubakar came back into the side for that encounter and having him alongside Benjamin Moukandjo is a powerful duo. Cameroon have to make sure they aren’t too timid here but know they have the weapons to respond, should they need them.

Conclusion & betting analysis

At some stage, you’d have to think something gives in this game. Gabon realistically need to win to progress. There’s an outside chance that a draw would be enough for them, but there's no way they can possibly think that way. Maybe the host nation could keep things tight for an hour but they will have to ‘go for it’ at some point. Cameroon can be content with a draw but the strength of this team is in attack, not at the back. With that in mind, I could see them favouring a positive mentality. It’s obvious Gabon are fragile at the moment so why not try and take advantage? Whenever the first goal is scored, the other team team simply has to react here. I have no idea who is going to win but I’m happy to back over 2 goals. Unless it stays 0-0 for 80 mins or more, than I think at worst this match will contain a couple of goals. If the deadlock is broken early then this should result in a full winner.

Prediction: Gabon 1-2 Cameroon

Recommended bet: Over 2 goals @ 1.95 (minimum odds acceptable 1.75)

Africa Cup of Nations – Egypt v Uganda Preview (21/1/17)

Egypt preview

The Pharoah’s struggled against Mali, especially in the second half when they looked really gassed. The poor pitch here in Port-Gentil really caused them issues and maybe the team will have to adapt to suit it better today. It must be remembered that Egypt are a strong technical side and would prefer to keep the ball on the deck though. Two of their goalkeepers are injured which means 44 year old El Hadary will be starting again. The rest of the squad is in fine condition with no other new injuries.

Uganda preview

The Cranes put up a plucky display against Ghana but ultimately fell to a 0-1 defeat. On another day they might easily have drawn the match, but also showed their limitations. This is a team that struggles to score goals and sometimes relies too much on it’s goalkeeper Denis Onyango. They threw the kitchen sink at Ghana the other night and I wonder how much is left in their tank. It could be a physical struggle for Uganda in this clash.

Conclusion & betting analysis

Egypt are a -0.75 favourite here which looks a bit too skinny. They are the better team and I do think they’ll win, but I’m not inclined to take anything on them. The pitch is poor and the Pharaohs were unconvincing against Mali. Uganda are under no pressure and it’s possible they could squeeze a 0-0 out of the match if they defend well. I would say a 1-0 or 2-0 Egypt win is the most likely outcome but at this sort of price I’m just not interested getting involved.

Prediction: 1-0

Recommended bet: None

Africa Cup of Nations – Ghana v Mali Preview (21/1/17)

Ghana preview

The Black Stars laboured to a 1-0 victory against Uganda in their opening game. Ghana were less than convincing but credit to them for grinding out a result against an opponent they recently struggled with in the World Cup Qualifiers. However, it will be of concern to most fans how unconvincing they looked. Even more of a concern was the serious injury picked up by star left back Baba Rahman. He’s now ruled out for the rest of the tournament which is a massive blow. Vice captain and highly influential leader Andre Ayew is rated doubtful for this match against Mali due to illness. So Ghana will head into the game shorthanded. Coach Avram Grant will be stepping down from the helm after this tournament. He’s not the most popular coach amongst fans anyway and some of his squad selections were very strange.

Mali preview

Picking up a 0-0 draw against Egypt has to be classed as a success for Mali. The Eagles actually grew stronger as the game progressed too and finished much the better side. On another day they might easily have won the contest. Morale is good within the camp and they seemed to adapt to the terrible Port Gentil pitch better than any of the other sidesv in the group. Mali have some big powerful bodies in their side which allows them to go route one and direct if needed. But perhaps the most impressive thing with Mali was their stamina. Temperatures are really hot at this venue but in the second half it was obvious to see their conditioning is excellent right now. Heading into the contest as underdogs is something they will enjoy and no new injuries are reported.

Conclusion & betting analysis

I said in my pre tournament preview that Ghana were my lay of this African Nations. I opted not to go against them facing Uganda, but I certainly will oppose them here. In all truth, I don't personally see much difference between the two teams on paper, especially with Rahman and Andre Ayew likely out. You could argue that at this present time in this tournament Mali are the better side. Therefore, being able to back them on a +0.25 handicap looks generous in my opinion. At very worst they can obtain a draw but I wouldn't be at all surprised if they win. I have a feeling this will be an open game, possibly ending over. But due to the poor state of the pitch here in Port Gentil I think it’s best to swerve that market. I’ll just stick with Mali and hope they deliver the goods.

Prediction: Ghana 1-2 Mali

Recommended bet 1 unit: Mali +0.25 @ 1.95 (minimum odds acceptable 1.75)

Africa Cup of Nations – Morocco v Togo Preview (20/1/17)

Morocco preview

Some people would say Morocco were unlucky to lose against DRC. Whilst this might be true, their lack of penetration was a massive concern. They just didn’t look like scoring and my main worry about them ahead of the tournament was in the final third of the field. Key players like Boufal & Belhanda are huge losses and they aren't left with much quality going forwards. Morocco still have a pretty good defence but one mistake cost them against DRC. It goes without saying that a clean sheet is a necessity here. I don’t think they can score two goals very easily based on squad options. But because Morocco lost their opening fixture, they really need three points today so might have to take some risks late on. It will be interesting to see their approach.

Togo preview

Nobody fancied them much against the Ivory Coast and indeed Togo were a +1 underdog in that fixture. But I think it’s fair to say Emmanuel Adebayor’s men held out pretty comfortably. Côte D’Ivoire didn’t test them much, but that is also credit to Togo’s organisation and discipline. They are a hard unit to break down and would happily take their chances on drawing three games in order to qualify. I don’t expect the Sparrow Hawks to play with much urgency here and they’ll probably time waste as much as possible. Going forwards they might create the odd few chances, but nothing on a consistent basis. The strength of the team is at the back with it’s solid approach. This is also a close knit squad and everyone knows each other. They certainly enjoy being underdogs as well.

Conclusion & betting analysis

This won’t be much of a classic. Neither side is particularly good going forwards and chances should be few and far between. Morocco will probably look good on the eye at times, but they are often all huff and puff with no end product. Maybe Herve Renard’s men will find a way to sneak a goal and manage to hold onto a clean sheet, but I wouldn’t bank on that happening. Morocco are odds-on for this fixture and personally I just can’t touch them. They aren’t a side I trust and I think Togo will probably avoid defeat. I looked at backing under 2 goals and Togo +0.5. But there’s no need to gamble on a couple of riskier selections. The under 2 price is pretty poor anyway. That said, I have this down as a major 0-0 contender and wouldn’t want to put anyone off backing it.

Prediction: 0-0

Recommended bet: None

Africa Cup of Nations – Ivory Coast v DR Congo Preview (20/1/17)

Ivory Coast preview

The pre season tournament favourites looked extremely flat in their opener against Togo. They could only draw 0-0 and in all truth there was nothing unlucky about that outcome. The Elephants struggled to create anything much against the group minnows. Togo weren’t tested much and the Ivorians played the game at a low pace with no urgency. On the plus side, the 2015 champions did look solid at the back. They have some really strong defenders who are hard to break down. You would back them to keep a clean sheet against most sides in this tournament. The attacking trio of Zaha, Kalou & Kodjia didn’t really combine well in the previous match and there’s some talk that target man upfront Wilfried Bony might be drafted into the side.

DR Congo preview

Some might say they were lucky to beat Morocco last time out. But defensively the Leopards did a good enough job against a lacklustre Morocco and were clinical when it mattered. DRC only had four shots in the entire match and they are unlikely to have many more in this fixture. Key defender and leader at the back Gabriel Zakuani is rated doubtful with injury. It’d be a boost if he was passed fit due to the presence he gives them. The right back Mutmabala who got sent off against Morocco was only a substitute and won’t be missed. Fabrice N'Sakala is the main starter in that position. I would fully expect DRC to park a double decker bus! They would love a 0-0 draw and their aim will be to frustrate CIV as long as possible.

Conclusion & betting analysis

This is going to be a close game of football if the Ivory Coast play like they did the other day. A big improvement is expected of them, but I’m not totally convinced. The attack force just doesn’t look potent enough for my liking and a lack of goals is a massive concern. If they did raise their levels significantly then the possibility exists of a comfortable victory. However, DRC will keep things tight and be hard to break down. Côte D’Ivoire might need a moment of brilliance and something special to find the back of the net. Again, this isn’t impossible because the Elephants possess some fine technical players. I strongly considered backing under 2 goals @ around the 2.0 mark, but in the end totally bottled the chance! I’m just not a fan of backing unders but this feels like the right selection. My gut feeling is that the Ivory Coast will find a way to win the game 1-0 or something, but I couldn't back them with any great confidence.

Prediction: Ivory Coast 1-0 DR Congo

Recommended bet: None

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)

Africa Cup of Nations – Algeria v Tunisia Preview (19/1/17)

Algeria preview

Most people expected the Desert Foxes to breeze past Zimbabwe in the opening match but in the end a late equaliser was required to avoid defeat! In fairness to Algeria, they showed a lot of good things in that fixture, not least an excellent second half to get back into the game with Riyad Mahrez scoring twice overall. However, defensive issues in the opening period were to blame for falling behind. This is what everyone is talking about ahead of this particular game so maybe there could be more of an emphasis in keeping it tight. But this is Algeria and they like to attack, playing to their strengths. The strike duo of Slimani & Soudani are both rated doubtful which could cause them some issues. However, the squad has plenty of depth and even if they end up having to play a false nine upfront, this wouldn't be a disaster.

Tunisia preview

I think it’s fair to say the ‘Eagles of Carthage’ won’t know how they didn’t at least score a goal against Senegal. I’m not suggesting they didn’t deserve to avoid defeat, after all their opponents dominated periods of the contest to which they had no answer. But a fairer reflection of the match would've been a 2-1 or 3-2 loss. Tunisia created plenty of chances but couldn't find a way past goalkeeper Abdoulaye Diallo who was in inspired form. Their conversion rate needs to improve, but Tunisia don’t need to change an awful lot in order to be successful. It was worrying how exposed they were defensively in that fixture, which was surprising considering the expectations of a solid performance. But they looked dangerous going forwards which is a massive positive ahead of facing a potentially vulnerable Algeria.

Conclusion & betting analysis

The way both teams played in their openers leads me to think over 2.25 goals is a good bet here. Algeria didn't surprise anyone by getting involved in a high scoring contest. It was a shock to see them fail to beat Zimbabwe, but they are such a good technical side and can score a couple of goals past anyone in Africa. This is a northern African ‘derby’ match, so the only real worry is if both teams fear losing too much. However, after the first round of matches a draw doesn’t do anyone any good at all to be honest. It’s three points which are required, especially from Tunisia who have yet to get off the mark in this tournament. I see an end to end game, full of chances. Both keepers will probably make numerous saves, but hopefully there’s enough opportunities to bag three goals. If you wanted to be more safe then the over 2 line is becoming a backable price, but I’ll opt for the 2.25 price @ a juicy 2.05.

Prediction: 2-2

Recommended bet 1 unit: Over 2.25 goals @ 2.05 (minimum odds acceptable 1.85)

Africa Cup of Nations – Cameroon v Guinea Bissau Preview (18/1/17)

Cameroon preview

There was a troubled lead up for the Indomitable Lions ahead of this tournament, but I thought they played pretty well for an hour against Burkina Faso. Their defence, as expected looked a bit shaky at times but they should've been 2 or 3 nil up such were the great chances wasted. Maybe with key striker Vincent Aboubakar in the side they’d have picked up a victory and he should return to the XI here. From an offensive point of view they looked dangerous and for me this is a big positive. Cameroon know they are the big favourites to win this match, but they are used to that and this sort of situation shouldn't bother them. I’d expect them to come out of the traps quickly and put Guinea Bissau under pressure with fast quick moving attacks.

Guinea - Bissau preview

The West African minnows shocked everyone in the opening match by equalising late against Gabon. But they deserved it. The ‘Wild Dogs’ put up a very plucky display after falling behind and created 2 or 3 really good chances prior to the equaliser. They are here at this tournament to enjoy themselves and there’s no pressure on their shoulders. You could tell that in the opening game. Obviously, quality levels aren’t there on paper but team spirit and unity is very high. One concern I do have for Guinea Bissau is what will they have left in the tank? An awful lot of energy and effort was used up against Gabon so they could be flat here.

Conclusion & betting analysis

Cameroon really should be winning this sort of game with plenty to spare. They are much the better side and now that Guinea Bissau have ‘climbed their everest’ by obtaining a point, then the minnows could struggle. Cameroon are 1.55 favourites and the -1 Asian handicap can be backed at a decent price. However, this hasn’t been a great tournament for favourites so far, especially on handicaps. So I’ll leave this market alone and instead take over 2 goals. This should be an open game and if Guinea Bissau fall behind then they are likely to have a go and try to get back into the game. They were fortunate that Gabon never put them under much pressure in the opening game but Cameroon are unlikely to let them off so lightly. At worst, this should contain a couple of goals for a push, but there are a number of different ways the bet can fully win. I just think that this is a line too low and the inflated price on overs is an overreaction to all the recent unders in the tournament.

Prediction: Cameroon 3-1 Guinea Bissau

Recommended bet 1 unit: Over 2 goals @ 1.78 (minimum odds acceptable 1.65)