African Cup of Nations 2021 tips: Outright betting predictions and best bets

15:00, 06 feb 2022
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The group stage of the African Cup of Nations 2021 has already made for exhilarating viewing as the continent’s best teams battle it out for a place in the next phase of the competition.
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Two of the pre-tournament favourites, Cameroon and Nigeria – alongside Burkina Faso – have safely booked their passage to AFCON’s knockout round, though a further 13 nations can still join them before the group stage concludes on January 20th.

Remarkably, current African champions Algeria look set to exit this year’s iteration at the first hurdle following a poor showing in Group E and several of their rivals will be desperate to replace them as the continent’s strongest outfit next month.

With the competition’s Round of 16 fast approaching, we’ve taken a look at some of the tournament’s prime trophy contenders in our African Cup of Nations outright predictions. Check them out below.

AFCON 2021 favourites

Cameroon – 5/1 (6.0)

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Tournament hosts Cameroon have made home advantage count so far, claiming seven points from a possible nine on their way to topping Group A ahead Burkina Faso, Cape Verde and Ethiopia, with striker and skipper Vincent Aboubakar leading the Indomitable Lions from the front with five goals.

Coached by Portuguese tactician Toni Conceição, Cameroon boast a star-studded squad heavily dusted with European based players including Napoli’s André-Frank Zambo Anguissa, Lyon’s Karl Toko Ekambi and Bayern Munich’s Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, though it’s the aforementioned Aboubakar who has shined brightest so far.

Winners of AFCON on five previous occasions, with their most recent triumph in 2017, Cameroon have pedigree to burn and they showed a tactical flexibility in the group stage that should make them a dangerous and unpredictable prospect for any opponent in the knockout phase.

Cameroon haven’t been toppled at home by anyone since 2018 – a run that covers an impressive 18 fixtures across multiple competitions and it’s that ability to harness home advantage that has earned them their favourite tags.

Senegal – 11/2 (6.5)

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Senegal cemented top spot on the final matchday in Group B when they drew for the second time in three matches in a 0-0 stalemate with Malawi, and though qualification was achieved, the team’s performances were far from convincing.

The Lions of Teranga have never been crowned African champions, though they came within an inch of glory in the 2019 edition of the tournament when they were beaten in the final by Algeria.

Senegal were one of the more fancied teams before this year’s competition kicked off and glance at their squad reveals why they were tipped by many to land some silverware.

With Chelsea’s Edouard Mendy in goal, Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly a rock at centre half, PSG anchorman Idrissa Gueye in midfield and Liverpool’s Sadio Mane in attack, Senegal have a spine strong enough to grace any football pitch in the world.

Senegal haven’t quite lived up to their billing however, notching just once in 180 minutes of group stage action so far. The West Africans are the highest-ranked side in the tournament according to FIFA (20th), however, they have been less than the sum of their parts in Group B.

Still, there is plenty of time and room for improvement and Senegal have yet to peak. Their success-starved supporters will be keen for their team to hit their stride as soon as possible however.

One to watch

Ivory Coast – 13/2 (7.5)

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As 5th favourites to go all the way, Ivory Coast are considered something of an outsider in the battle for AFCON glory, though the 2015 winners have enough technically gifted individuals to beat any other team in the tournament on a good day.

Ivory Coast sit at the summit of Group E ahead of the section’s final matchday and a likely date with Mohamed Salah and Egypt awaits if Patrice Beaumelle’s side can maintain their grip on top spot.

Les Éléphants have lost just one of the 14 games they’ve contested since November 2020 and their roster has arguably more match-winners than any other at the African Cup of Nations.

AC Milan’s Franck Kessie, Bordeaux loanee Jean Michael Serri and PSV starlet Ibrahim Sangare provide plenty of steel in midfield, though it’s further forward where Ivory Coast’s most exciting protagonists are found.

Premier League wingers Wilfried Zaha and Nicolas Pepe have stiff competition on the flanks in the form of Max Gradel and Burnley’s Maxwel Cornet, while Ajax frontman Sebastien Haller is a high-class line-leader.

Ivory Coast can field a front six from any number of formidable combinations and a strong performance against current African champions Algeria on matchday three in Group E could see their odds to win the tournament outright slashed.

 

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15:00/6 feb
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