- AFCON reaches the semifinal stage
- Books have Senegal as +125 favorites to win it
- Tunisia outsiders but in with a real shout
The Africa Cup of Nations is down to the last four, and the semifinals take place on Sunday (July 14). First off it’s Senegal vs Tunisia, who kick off at 12pm ET at the 30 June Stadium in Cairo. That’s followed by Algeria vs Nigeria (3 pm ET) at the Cairo International Stadium.
2019 AFCON Odds
*Odds taken 07/12/19
The Senegalese have been among the favorites to win the tournament from the word go, and with Egypt exiting stage left in the round-of-16 stage after the surprise defeat by South Africa, the stage now looks set for them to go on and win it. But, as reflected by the odds of +125 for Senegal to win the whole thing, they have not been firing on all cylinders.
The tournament has been a really tight one so far with the knockout stages, in particular, seeing several games go to extra-time and penalties, and most being decided by the odd goal.
2019 AFCON Semifinal 1: Senegal vs Tunisia – Odds
|Senegal||-0.5 (+105)||+115||O 2.0 (-110)|
|Tunisia||+0.5 (+140)||+290||U 2.0 (-101)|
Senegal, while cruising to two comfortable wins in their group, lost 1-0 to Algeria in their second game and qualified for the knockout phase via second place in Group C. They then made it to the semifinal by virtue of two narrow 1-0 wins.
A comfortable 2-0 win over Tanzania got their tournament off to a flier but they were rocked by a 1-0 defeat by fellow semifinalists Algeria in their second game – a result that may be significant if the two teams meet again in the final.
The Lions of Teranga secured their route through to the knockout phase with a comfortable 3-0 win over Kenya, but the 1-0 win over Uganda that followed was tight, nervy and a sign of things to come, with their quarterfinal with Benin also being a similar type game and won by the same scoreline.
But, the Senegalese have talent and the old adage about not playing well and still winning could well apply here, not least because they have Liverpool’s sensational Sadio Mane leading their line. They remain favorites for a reason.
Tunisia are the lowest-ranked team of the final four and are the outsiders (+500) but what they do have is that priceless commodity called momentum.
Their performances in Group E were underwhelming, with draws against Angola (1-1), Mali (1-1) and Mauritania (0-0), and they needed a penalty shoot-out to win their round-of-16 game against Ghana (5-4 on pens).
But it all came together in the quarterfinal when Tunisia produced a composed and professional performance to beat the tournament’s surprise team, Madagascar, even if the 3-0 scoreline was a little harsh on their opponents.
It’s a win that has set them up nicely for a semifinal they believe they can win, and we too believe they have enough to get over the line and cause an upset.
Pick: Tunisia to beat Senegal in 90 minutes (+115)
2019 AFCON Semifinal 2: Algeria vs Nigeria – Odds
|Algeria||0.0 (-155)||+130||O 2.0 (-110)|
|Nigeria||0.0 (+120)||+215||U 2.0 (-110)|
Sportsbooks’ odds reflect the popular view that this semifinal will be even closer than the first, with very little to choose between two quality teams. Algeria at +130 on the moneyline are narrow favorites, but this is one that will be decided by the small margins.
Mahrez the Star
The Algerians have impressed throughout, with their talismanic leader Riyad Mahrez one of the players of the tournament so far. The Desert Foxes skipper has been inspirational, leading from the front and linking cleverly with the team’s attack.
Mahrez was instrumental in as Algeria went undefeated in the group stage, with victories over Kenya (2-0), Senegal (1-0) and Tanzania (3-0) giving them an easy passage through to the second phase.
An equally comfortable 3-0 win over Guinea in the round-of-16 set up a quarterfinal clash against the mighty Ivory Coast and after a nail-biting 1-1 draw, the Algerians progressed thanks to a 4-3 win in the penalty shoot-out. They look in good shape and have shown they are able to find a way to win tight games.
Tunisia produced a composed and professional performance to beat the tournament’s surprise team, Madagascar
Just One Blip For Super Eagles
Nigeria’s route to the semifinal had just the one blip when they lost their second group game but, generally, it’s been an authoritative campaign. Wins over Burundi and Guinea had already guaranteed a safe passage through for the Super Eagles before a surprise 2-0 defeat by Madagascar – the competition newcomers – altered their planned route through the knockout phase.
It's all over from the Cairo International Stadium as #Nigeria eliminate South Africa. The Super Eagles have now registered 50 wins at #AFCON2019 finals. It ends 2-1 in favour of the Super Eagles. pic.twitter.com/ueQhj729aX
— Saa Albashir (@SaaAlbashir) July 10, 2019
But, while the route may have been more difficult than expected, the end result was the same. Two wins, firstly over Cameroon (3-2) and then South Africa (2-1), have set them up nicely for the showdown with Algeria, and it promises to be a firecracker of a game.
We do think though that the North Africans may just edge this, mainly due to their extra class in midfield and in the attacking third – but it will be tight.
Pick: Algeria to beat Nigeria in 90 minutes (+130)