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Strong opinions and the CAF Africa Cup of Nations do not go hand in hand due to the tournament’s unpredictable nature but one thinks that defending champion Cote d’Ivoire is underpriced to go back to back in the continental competition.
Cote d’Ivoire’s squad is very different from the one that won the CAF Africa Cup of Nations two years ago, with its changes including the losses of title-winning coach Herve Renard and the talismanic Toure brothers, Kolo and Yaya. Cote d’Ivoire may miss Yaya Toure’s midfield creativity, while its main striker is Jonathan Kodjia, a forward who remains unproven in one of Europe’s top domestic leagues. England reject Wilfried Zaha has committed his future to Cote d’Ivoire and the Elephants will have their fans but they are unworthy CAF Africa Cup of Nations favourites.
CAF Africa Cup of Nations Group C houses Cote d’Ivoire but one thinks that the tournament winner is most likely to emerge from Group B, which includes Algeria and Senegal.
One respects Algeria because of the quality of its roster, which includes Leicester duo Riyad Mahrez and Islam Slimani, but the Desert Foxes are in trouble in their FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign and they flopped in the last CAF Africa Cup of Nations. Algeria boss George Leekens is thinking about deploying a 3-5-2 formation in an effort to improve the defence of the Desert Foxes. Algeria is trading at fair odds but nothing more than that.
Senegal represents the pick of the CAF Africa Cup of Nations favourites at odds of 11/2 6.50 +550 5.50 5.50 -0.18 with BoyleSports. Senegal is in a spot of FIFA World Cup qualifying bother but it received the rough end of the pineapple throughout its 1-2 away loss to South Africa and its position in the group is salvageable. Senegal boasts a strong defence, which is a prerequisite for success in a major competition, and an array of attacking talent capable of unlocking any opponent. One is a big fan of the World Football Elo Ratings and, according to them, Senegal is ranked second behind Cote d’Ivoire in the CAF confederation. But Senegal has closed the World Football Elo Ratings gap between it and Cote d’Ivoire considerably over the last 12 months and one expects that trend to continue into the future.
Unlike most CAF Africa Cup of Nations teams, Senegal does not have an obvious weakness in this grade of tournament and Sadio Mane may end up being the star of the overall event. Mane has gone to another level since joining Liverpool from Southampton in a record-breaking transfer that made him Africa’s most expensive player.
CAF Africa Cup of Nations host Gabon is relatively short in the betting for a side that the World Football Elo Ratings rank as the region’s 17th best team. That is because home advantage is great, Dortmund forward Pierre-Emerick Aubemeyang leads Gabon’s attack and the Panthers will kick off in CAF Africa Cup of Nations Group A alongside Burkina Faso, Guineas-Bissau and Cameroon. One thinks that CAF Africa Cup of Nations Group A is the weakest of the four pools so Gabon should breeze through to the knockout stage but the Panthers may struggle to make it any further than the last eight – they are likely to run into either Algeria or Senegal in the quarter-finals.
Senegal has not won the CAF Africa Cup of Nations, the nearest that it has gone to glory being when it finished second in 2002. Senegal is the smartest single CAF Africa Cup of Nations play but, if you want to bet more conservatively, dutching the Lions of Teranga with Algeria, which is available at odds of 71/10 8.10 +710 7.10 7.10 -0.14 with Marathonbet, is the way to go. The CAF Africa Cup of Nations dutched wager works out at odds of 13/5 3.60 +260 2.60 2.60 -0.38 .
Senegal to Win the African Cup of Nations
14th January – 5th February 2017
Odds: 11/2 6.50 +550 5.50 5.50 -0.18
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