Sports

Eyes on the Afcon odds: What are the bookies saying ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations?

From Zambia’s Africa Cup of Nations triumph in 2012 to Madagascar’s triumph over Nigeria’s Super Eagles at the 2019 tournament, the continental showpiece has been a consistent source of shocks and surprises.

This makes the betting market for the tournament volatile—but also lucrative—with opportunities aplenty for punters keen for a flutter on the biennial competition.

Ahead of the Nations Cup kick-off in Yaounde on Sunday, GOAL’s Ed Dove identifies where the value can be found and outlines the trends that can be found among the betting houses running markets on the tournament.

Sadio Mane Senegal

Africa Cup of Nations winner odds

Contrary to GOAL’s pre-tournament predictions, it’s Senegal and not reigning champions Algeria who have been installed as bookies’ favourites before the tournament.

The Teranga Lions can be found at 4/1 across the board, with even shorter odds with some bet-makers, with the bookies believing that Sadio Mane and co. will bring home the gold.

Despite their progress in recent years under Aliou Cisse, it’s worth noting that the Teranga Lions have never won the tournament, and don’t have the pedigree of some of their rivals for the championship.

Algeria, reigning champions, appear arguably undervalued at 5/1, particularly considering they haven’t lost a game in 40 matches—since late 2018.

Intriguingly, Ivory Coast are a semi-final tip among bookies, and can be found consistently at 8/1, just ahead of hosts Cameroon—roundly backed at 9/1—despite the Indomitable Lions’ victory over the Elephants in World Cup qualifying.

It remains to be seen whether home support works in Cameroon’s favour or proves too great a pressure for the Lions, although the bookies generally believe they’re well placed to push for the semis.

Egypt, at 7/1 and up to 9/1 with Bet Victor or Coral, aren’t even the highest ranked team in their group, and bookies appear split as to whether they’ll flatter to deceive or if Mohamed Salah can inspire the to the business end of the tournament.

There’s great value to be found with Morocco, who are looking a genuine threat under Vahid Halilhodzic, but have odds as long as 10/1 with Sky Bet.

The Atlas lions were imperious during World Cup qualification, winning their six games with an aggregate score of 20-1. They’re so confident in their attacking options that they’ve opted to leave Hakim Ziyech at home, instead backing Ayoub El Kaabi, Ryan Mmaee and Youssef En-Nesyri.

Nigeria, who can be found between 9/1 and 11/1 (Paddy Power, Betfair, Unibet) could also be good value if they can find a winning formula in light of a raft of withdrawals, while there’s something to be said for Ghana as well.

Bookies appear undecided on the Black Stars’ chances—which represents opportunity—as the Black Stars can be found as low as 11/1 (William Hill, 888bet), but as high as 20/1 with Coral.

This is surely worth a punt—for thrills if nothing else—as the Black Stars have been reunited with head coach Milan Rajevac, the mastermind of their run to the World Cup quarter-finals.

A 3-0 defeat by Algeria before the tournament has dampened expectations, and 14/1 appears about right for a team who nonetheless have some experience of reaching the final.

Gabon, at 75/1, might tempt a few punters considering the presence of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who will have much to prove after a miserable first half to the season with Arsenal.

 

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Africa Cup of Nations top goalscorer odds

Aubameyang again features in the top goalscorer market, with best odds of 33/1 to be found with Sky Bet and Bet Victor.

Gabon must face debutants Comoros in their opening game, where a haul for Auba could put him right in the mix.

Senegal have the most straightforward group on paper, which makes Sadio Mane—17/2 with Betfair—an appealing prospect, even though he can play more of a supporting role with the national side.

Mohamed Salah—consistently 4/1—and Riyad Mahrez are also being tipped by the bookies in light of their strong goalscoring form in the Premier League, and the latter’s 9/1 odds with Bet Victor will be tempting to some.

There’s better value to be found with Mahrez’s compatriots Islam Slimani (14/1 with Sky Bet) or Baghdad Bounedjah, who’s as long as 25/1 with Sky Bet.

The problem for both is that they might have to share duties as Algeria’s leading striker, while Bounedjah, despite scoring the winning goal in the 2019 final, has lost form recently.

Nigeria’s most dangerous player according to the bookies is Kelechi Iheanacho—variously 14/1 or 16/1—but he’s more likely to play a supporting role for the inexperienced ex-Liverpool man Taiwo Awoniyi, who looks an absolute steal at 66/1 with Bet Victor.

Awoniyi is basically untested in the international arena, but he has nine Bundesliga goals with Union Berlin this term, and looks well placed to lead the line with Odion Ighalo, Paul Onuachu and Victor Osimhen all out.

Sebastien Haller and Vincent Aboubakar seem fairly priced at 11/1 (Bet Fred) and 14/1 (William Hill, Bet Fred) respectively, and others like Youssef En-Nesyri (28/1), Wilfried Zaha (33/1) and even Nicolas Pepe (50/1) all deserve consideration.

Could Andre Ayew, top scorer in 2015, even be in the mix? You can get him at 40/1 with Bet Victor.

Sources: https://www.goal.com/

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