2017 African Cup of Nations Football Betting Preview

Updated Wednesday 25th January 2017, 01:50 PM

The eyes of the footballing world will be firmly focused on Gabon as the 31st African Cup of Nations gets underway this Saturday. With 16 teams all eager to lift the coveted trophy aloft on February the 5th, Sports.net takes a look at which sides are most likely to prosper and who will be catching an early flight home.

How the Bookies See it

  • Winner: Ivory Coast 7/2, Senegal 6/1, Algeria 8/1 - BetVictor
  • Top Scorer: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (GAB) 7/1, Islam Slimani (ALG) 11/1, Jonathan Kodjia (CIV) 17/2 - Paddy Power

The Teams

Group A

  • Burkina Faso shone in 2013 as they defied the odds to reach their first ever AFCON final, only to fall to a 1-0 defeat to Nigeria. Lightning failed to strike twice for the Stallions as they crashed out in the group stages two years ago, a fate that could be repeated this time around. Verdict: Group Stage Exit
  • Cameroon are traditionally seen as one of the continent’s best sides, but face a crisis as they head into their 18th tournament, with eight members of their first team opting to miss the contest, including Liverpool defender Joel Matip. Nevertheless, the Indomitable Lions still possess plenty of quality in their ranks and should make it out of the group. Verdict: Quarter Finals
  • Gabon hosted their first AFCON tournament in 2012 alongside Equatorial Guinea, but  find themselves flying solo this time around. Relying on the firepower of Borussia Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, The Panthers could be a good shout to make the latter stages of the competition. Verdict: Semi Finals   
  • Guinea-Bissau enter their first Cup of Nations and will be looking to spring a surprise or two. The Djurtus finished top of their qualifying group, ahead of the likes of DR Congo and 2012 champions Zambia, but at 100/1 to lift the cup, a fall at the first looks likely for the new boys. Verdict: Group Stage Exit             

Group B

  • Algeria are amongst the favourites to win only their second AFCON title, following success in 1990. The Desert Foxes will hope that Leicester City’s talismanic midfielder Riyad Mahrez and teammate Islam Slimani can outplay the opposition in what looks to be a tough group. Verdict: Quarter Finals
  • Senegal stunned football fans around the globe when they helped dump reigning champions France out of the 2002 World Cup in Japan & South Korea, but the team has enjoyed little success since. The Lions of Teranga have crashed out in the group stages in their last three AFCON appearances, but a decent run could be on the cards this time thanks to a gifted squad. Verdict: Winners
  • Tunisia have plenty of AFCON experience, but their only triumph came 12 years ago when they hosted the tournament. With Sunderland’s Wahbi Khazri and Valencia’s Aymen Abdennour the only players of any real quality, the Eagles of Carthage could be staring an early exit squarely in the face. Verdict: Group Stage Exit   
  • Zimbabwe enter only their third Cup of Nations following brief appearances in 2004 and 2006. A lack of notable talent in their squad could see the side ranked 102nd in the world fall victim to the stronger sides in the group, but don’t expect The Warriors to go down without a fight. Verdict: Group Stage Exit       

Group C

  • Congo DR claimed AFCON titles in 1968 (as Congo-Kinshasa) and 1974 (as Zaire), but have failed to win the trophy since. A third place finish in 2015 was seen as a step in the right direction for the tournament veterans, but with Everton’s Yannick Bolasie and Bournemouth’s Benik Afobe missing, The Leopards could be in for a bumpy ride. Verdict: Quarter Finals
  • Ivory Coast will be looking to defend their crown in Gabon following a nervy penalty shootout win over Ghana in 2015. The Elephants are well tipped by the bookmakers at 3/1 despite a number of their big name players retiring from international duty in recent years. However, with a number of Premier League players on their books, a place in the last four looks to be on the cards. Verdict: Semi Finals
  • Morocco reached the final of this competition in 2004, but have enjoyed little success of late. Juventus defender Medhi Benatia and Watford’s Nordin Amrabat are the only real standout players for the 1976 winners, and with attacking midfielder Sofiane Boufal missing, another early elimination looks likely. Verdict: Group Stage Exit     
  • Togo will be hoping to replicate their success of 2013 when they reached the quarter finals and welcome Emmanuel Adebayor back to the fold. The former Premier League striker, who was part of the Togo team whose team bus was tragically attacked in 2010, will be hoping to inspire his homeland to glory, but at 150/1 that looks unlikely. Verdict: Group Stage Exit               

Group D

  • Egypt have a rich AFCON history having claimed top honours on seven occasions, more than any other nation. Despite claiming an unprecedented third straight title in 2010, The Pharaohs have failed to qualify for the past three tournaments, so will be aiming to make an immediate impact on their return. Odds of 9/1 look tempting as the North Africans look to rise again, but an unfavourable quarter final draw could be their undoing. Verdict: Quarter Finals
  • Ghana are certainly the ‘nearly men’ when it comes to the Cup of Nations. The four-time winners lifted the trophy in 1982, but have failed to get their hands on it recently, despite a wealth of talent in their squad. The Black Stars, who are coached by former Chelsea manager Avram Grant, have reached the last four in the past five tournaments and could be worth keeping an eye on this time around. Verdict: Runners-Up
  • Mali have never managed to secure an AFCON title, but have gone close in previous years, finishing third in 2012 and 2013. The Eagles, who missed out on a quarter final place in 2015 after lots were drawn with Guinea, are able to boast a number of top quality players, but a strong group could result in heartbreak for the Malians. Verdict: Group Stage Exit  
  • Uganda return to the tournament for the first time since 1978. The Cranes, who recorded warm-up wins over Slovenia and Slovakia, were lucky enough to make the final on that occasion, but a squad lacking in quality could see the rest of the field waving bye-bye to these birdies in the early stages. Verdict: Group Stage Exit                 

Sports.net’s view

With a number of strong teams all vying for the title, and the tournament’s propensity to throw up unusual results, picking an outright winner could prove to be a difficult call. However, expect the big-hitters of Ghana and early favourites Ivory Coast to help shape the outcome of the competition, while Senegal and host nation Gabon could be worth considering as the dark horses of 2017.   

Liverpool's Sadio Mane looks well priced to be the tournament’s top scorer, as Senegal aim to go far, while Stoke City’s Wilfried Bony could capitalise on Ivory Coast’s weak-looking group. However, with the home support firmly favouring Gabon, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang could light up the competition with his natural goalscoring instinct. The Dortmund forward is available at 7/1 with Paddy Power.

  • Sports.net’s top tip: - Senegal to win the African Cup of Nations - 6/1 with Sky Bet


*Please note that odds may fluctuate.

Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 January 2017 01:50:43+00:00
Published By Sports.net

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