The Africa Cup of Nations 2019 – hosted by Egypt – is one of the premier international football tournaments of the summer.
Cameroon will be looking to retain their title and gain their sixth win overall. However, they will face a strong challenge from hosts Egypt and other top nations. After studying the form and stats, we fancy Senegal to lift the title, with Guinea as a dangerous outsider.
52 games will take place from 21st June to 19th July across six venues in Egypt. The hosts will play the opening match against Zimbabwe at the Cairo International Stadium and hope to return to the same venue for the final four weeks later.
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Each country will play against the other three teams in their group in a round-robin format. The top two teams will qualify for the last 16, along with the four best third-placed sides. After that, the competition will be in a knockout format until the final in Cairo.
AFCON Previous Winners
Who is historically strong in the Africa Cup of Nations? Which nation has the most wins?
Egypt have the best history in the AFCON and lead the way with seven wins, two ahead of Cameroon. This is the 32nd edition of the Africa Cup of Nations and it’s well worth looking back at the past 6 editions to get an idea of teams who perform well.
Gabon & Equatorial Guinea
Different winners in each of the last five tournaments suggest it’s very open. Ghana have been ultra-consistent, reaching the semi-finals in six successive competitions, but can they get the win this time?
AFCON 2019 – Main Contenders
TOP TIP – Senegal to win 7/18.00+7007.007.00-0.14
Hosts Egypt head the betting at 9/25.50+4504.504.50-0.22. Their chances could hinge on one man, the great Mohamed Salah. One year ago, a half-fit Salah failed at the World Cup in Russia.
He probably should not have played, handicapped from a shoulder injury that led to his early substitution during the Champions League final against Real Madrid. The entire World Cup was a bitter disappointment for Egypt.
12 months on, Salah approaches this tournament in a much better frame of mind and body. He scored in this seasons Champions League final, and there appear to be no fitness issues for the Egyptian. There is huge pressure though, and Salah does not seem to enjoy having the hopes of a nation on his shoulders.
Ultimately, Salah can’t do it alone and will need support from the rest of his team.
Unfortunately, the Egypt squad appears thin on quality. Mohamed Elneny of Arsenal is the second biggest name but is unlikely to provide much creativity. That role may fall to Mahmoud Trezeguet of Kasimpasa in the Turkish league.
Their defence looks functional at best, mainly composed of players from the Egyptian league. Ahmed El Mohamady and Ahmed Hegazi plied their trades in the second tier in England last year, and neither have convinced during stints at a higher level.
The opposing teams will have two clear aims. Stop Salah, and stop the ball getting to Salah. He may be able to overcome the extra attention against the weaker teams and being host always comes with big advantages. However, the stronger outfits will likely be able to stifle him.
Senegal are second in the betting at 7/18.00+7007.007.00-0.14. They look a more balanced outfit than the favourites. Flair is provided by the wonderful Sadio Mane, also a recent winner of the Champions League and teammate of Salah at Liverpool. He has good support from the likes of Keita Diao of Inter Milan, and Ismaila Sarr of Rennes.
The Senegalese midfield is solid rather than spectacular. Alfred N’Diaye of Malaga and Idrissa Gueye of Everton are both defensively minded – Gueye, in particular, is super-reliable. The role of creator may fall to Cheikhou Kouyate. Their defence will be marshalled by the Napoli rock Kalidou Koulibaly.
The entire squad play their football in Europe, mostly in the highest tier of the top leagues.
On paper, they look to have the best squad heading to Egypt.
Ghana are always a strong contender, reaching the semi-finals in each of the last six championships. Up front, Asamoah Gyan has long been their chief source of goals, with 51 in his 106 appearances. However, he is a veteran now at the age of 33. The Ayew brothers Jordan and Andre will need to provide assistance.
Their midfield will be led by Kwadwo Asamoah, winner of multiple league titles with Juventus and now an important player with Inter Milan. Thomas Partey of Atletico Madrid is a superb defensive midfielder, whilst Christian Atsu of Newcastle is a more creative influence.
Their defence appears functional, though without any star names. Overall, they have a good first XI, but without huge strength in depth. They also look weaker than the Ghana teams who have come close to this title in the last decade.
Nigeria at 8/19.00+8008.008.00-0.13 are another team who seem well-balanced, but with no stand-out spark. Up front, Odion Ighalo and Kelechi Iheanacho are both excellent goal scorers, and Alex Iwobi of Arsenal can provide creativity.
Wilfred Ndidi is a superb defensive midfielder, who appears ready to take over the role previously played by Jon Obi-Mikel. However, they both seem likely start as Obi-Mikel is captain.
Their defence is very young for a tournament of this nature. William Troost-Ekong of Udinese will likely be the senior player at the back, aged 25. Born in the Netherlands, the centre-back takes huge pride in playing for Nigeria.
10/111.00+100010.0010.00-0.10 shots Ivory Coast look like they could provide lots of entertainment. Maxwel Cornet and Nicolas Pepe are two of the hottest properties in football this summer, linked with many top clubs.
Max Gradel, Franck Kessie and Jean Michael Seri are all attacking midfielders. Even the right back Serge Aurier is an attacking threat, however he is prone to leaving large gaps behind him. Jean-Philippe Gbamin and Wilfried Kanon will provide defensive power but overall they are a team more suited for attack.
Morocco were defensively well-organised at the 2018 World Cup in Russia but carried little attacking threat. They don’t seem to have solved those problems, as they only scored eight goals in their six qualifying games. Expect them to be difficult to beat but unimaginative.
Algeria will hope that Riyadh Mahrez can perform some of his magic tricks in Egypt. They will need him to, as otherwise they are a very limited team. Yacine Brahimi is an exciting winger who has shone occasionally for Porto in the Champions League. Captain and centre-back Rafik Halliche has played in 2 World Cups and 3 AFCONS so brings plenty of experience.
In midfield Sofiane Feghouli has been impressive for Galatasaray, having earlier played six seasons at Valencia in Spain. There is at least a solid spine there, but it’s doubtful that they have enough to make a big impact.
Holders Cameroon are always a threat in these tournaments. Their squad has no star names which is reflected in odds as big 17/118.00+170017.0017.00-0.06. However, it is a similar squad of journeymen to their victorious side of two years ago.
Clearly, Cameroon have the belief that they can beat the best on the continent. This will be their first tournament with Clarence Seedorf as coach. It will be exciting to see how this Dutch legend gets on.
AFCON 2019 – Best of the Rest
Tunisia had a tough group at the World Cup in Russia, facing eventual semi-finalists England and Belgium. They held England until the 90th minute and scored twice against Belgium so have some potential. The squad they are bringing to Egypt looks weaker than last summer though.
DR Congo will look to Anderlecht striker Yannick Bolasie for inspiration. He has never been truly convincing at a high level despite some big money transfers.
Mali are always competitive but appear to have a weaker squad than usual this time.
33/134.00+330033.0033.00-0.03Guinea have a sprinkling of talent across the pitch. Naby Keita of Liverpool is the biggest name, but there is plenty of quality throughout. Their back four all play in the French top tier. Amadou Diawara of Napoli is a quality defensive midfielder who made his debut for Guinea during qualification.
Up front, Ibrahima Traore is an important player for Borussia Monchengladbach, however much will depend on the fitness of Keita, who suffered a season-ending injury at the start of May.
Guinea qualified with panache, finishing ahead of the fancied Ivory Coast.
They have a realtively easy group. Past Egypt, Madagascar and Burundi look weak, so Guinea should qualify easily. Hopefully, Keita will be fully effective by then and they can push on towards the later rounds.
At a similar price, South Africa look one to avoid. Most of the squad play in the South African league and they appear a very limited set of players for this level.
AFCON – The Outsiders
The Africa Cup of Nations has been expanded to 24 countries for the first time. Inevitably there a few weak links amongst the qualifiers. Mauritania, Madagascar and Burundi will make their debuts in the event this summer, whilst Tanzania return after a 40-year absence.
Mauritania should prove themselves the best of that quartet having qualified ahead of the useful Burkina Faso. Angola will have their usual Portuguese influence, but don’t appear to have the required quality.
It’s great that Victor Wanyama gets to play in a big tournament, but his Kenya look the ultimate one-man team. Namibia will target the ‘derby’ against South Africa but seem very poor overall.
Benim and Guinea-Bissau are in the same group, and a high scoring victory may be enough for one of these outsiders to qualify for the last 16. Progress beyond that is unlikely. Similarly, Zimbabwe and Uganda are in the same group, and one of them may sneak into the second round.
Is the Africa Cup of Nations on TV?
Yes. In the UK all games will be shown live on Eurosport. In the USA all games will be shown live on beIN Sports.
Who will be the Africa Cup of Nations winners?
Our top tips are:
Winners – Senegal 7/18.00+7007.007.00-0.14
Winners – Guinea 33/134.00+330033.0033.00-0.03
Where is the Africa Cup of Nations being held?
The Africa Cup of Nations hosts are Egypt, with the final taking place in the Cairo International Stadium.
When is the Africa Cup of Nations 2019 taking place?
The opening match of AFCON between Egypt and Zimbabwe takes place on June 21st at 10pm local time. The final is on the 19th of July.
JK hails from Dublin and is an avid fan of all sports. He's been gambling with success for nearly 30 years and believes that research and dedication is the key. JK's attention to detail and knack of spotting opportunities that others often miss gives him the edge over the bookies.
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