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2019 African Cup of Nations: Egypt Enter Tournament as +400 Co-Favorites

Gary Gowers

by Gary Gowers in Soccer News

Updated Apr 13, 2020 · 8:08 AM PDT

Egyptian national soccer team
Egypt start the Africa Cup of Nations 2019 as co-favorites on home soil, with a team that includes Mo Salah and other players who play their soccer in the top European League. Photo by Анна Нэсси (Wikimedia Commons)
  • The Africa Cup of Nations kicks off on June 21st
  • Egypt on home soil start as co-favorites alongside Senegal
  • Ghana is also well fancied at short +500 odds

The Africa Cup of Nations kicks off on June 21st with a record number of teams taking part. For the first time, 24 teams will be competing and, also for the first time, the tournament will be taking place in the European summer rather than in the middle of domestic season. It kicks off with the hosts, Egypt, taking on Zimbabwe.

Africa Cup of Nations 2019 Odds

Team Odds
Egypt +400
Senegal +400
Ghana +500
Nigeria +550
Morocco +800
Ivory Coast +1000
Algeria +1200
Cameroon +1400
Tunisia +1800
DR Congo +2200
Mali +2500
Guinea +2500
South Africa +2500
Angola +5000
Uganda +6600

*Odds taken June 17 2019

Egypt start as co-favorites, in part due to home advantage and in part due to having quality players like Liverpool’s European Champions League winner Mo Salah in their squad, but it’s almost certain to be a closer tournament than the odds suggest.

The 24 teams have been split into six groups, where they compete on a round-robin basis, with the top two teams and the four best third-placed teams advancing to the round of 16.

We’ll take a look at each group.

Group A: Egypt, Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Zimbabwe

Egypt, for the reasons stated above, are highly fancied and will understandably fancy their chances of going all the way on home soil. The draw, however, has not been especially kind to them and if they win the group they could end up with a tricky last-16 tie against South Africa.

The Pharaohs’ biggest rivals look likely to be the Democratic Republic of Congo, who have a good squad that contains several players who play in England – most notably Benik Afobe (Wolves), Britt Assombalonga (Middlesbrough) and Jacques Maghoma (Birmingham City), plus the enigmatic Yannick Bolasie, who now plays in Belgium with Anderlecht.

It’s tough to see Uganda and Zimbabwe having enough to edge either Egypt or DR Congo out of the top two.

Pick: Egypt and DR Congo to go through

Group B: Nigeria, Guinea, Madagascar, Burundi

On paper, the Nigerians’ task of qualifying for the knockout phase of the tournament is a straightforward one. They have a talented squad that includes some well-known names – including Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi and Leicester’s Wilfred Ndidi – and have been unbeaten since the 2018 World Cup.

Guinea are second favorites in Group B and are skippered by Liverpool’s UEFA Champions League winning midfielder Naby Keita. He is their leader and talisman and the one they look to for inspiration. A good tournament for him means a good tournament for Guinea.

Burundi and Madagascar – both in their first finals – will enjoy the experience, but it’s hard to see them topping either Nigeria or Guinea.

Pick: Nigeria and Guinea to go through.

Group C: Senegal, Algeria, Kenya, Tanzania

Again, this looks to be a group where the top two are already decided but for a shock result or two, and we’re talking BIG shocks. The big two in the group are both led by English Premier League stars and big names at that. Senegal have Liverpool hitman Sadio Mane leading their line, while for Algeria, Manchester City’s Riyad Mahrez will be the star man. And these two will be familiar foes with their respective clubs finishing one and two in the EPL.

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Kenya and Tanzania both did well to qualify but look unlikely to advance to the knockout stages.

Pick: Senegal and Algeria to go through

Group D: Morocco, Ivory Coast, South Africa, Namibia

Most major tournaments have a “Group of Death” and this is it! Morocco and Ivory Coast will start as favorites, although worth noting is that the searing heat of an Egyptian summer is not conducive to Morocco’s high-energy, high-tempo style of soccer.

The Ivory Coast are always a threat in these competitions, not least because of the fine track record they have in the Africa Cup of Nations. They also have some high caliber player, like Eric Bailly, Serge Aurier, Wilfried Zaha, and Yaya Toure, all of whom have played for the top sides in the EPL. They have reached at least the quarterfinals in each of the last five tournaments.

Also worth noting is that whoever finishes second in the group could face Tunisia in the round-of-16. South Africa, while out at +2500, have players capable of producing some big results, so are worth watching and Namibia can be tricky opponents.

Pick: Morocco and Ivory Coast to go through

Group E: Tunisia, Mali, Mauritania, Angola

As mentioned above, while this may look comfortable for Tunisia, they look likely to face the runners-up of the “Group of Death” in the round-of-16, so, while they look strong, their route to the latter stages is a difficult one.

They should have enough to negotiate this group though with something to spare, and will draw on their experience of playing in this tournament, which they have won once and have also been runners-up twice.

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Mali are expected to finish second in Group E, not least because of the smattering of European experience they have in the form of Brighton forward Yves Bissouma and Antwerp’s Sambou Yatabare.

Pick: Tunisia and Mali to go through

Group F: Cameroon, Ghana, Benin, Guinea-Bissau

Cameroon and Ghana are the big two in this group and are heavily tipped to advance to the knockout stages.

Cameroon, previous winners of this competition, have quality throughout their squad and in Porto’s Vincent Aboubaka, a striker who has a one goal in three record for his country.

Ghana too have excellent quality throughout their squad, including young goalkeeper Andre Onana, who starred in the Ajax team that beat both Real Madrid and Juventus on their way to the UEFA Champions League semifinal. They also have Asamoah Gyan, Emmanuel Agyemang and Andre Ayew – all of whom have extensive European experience.

Both Cameroon and Ghana should have too much for Benin and Guinea-Bissau.

Pick: Cameroon and Ghana to go through

Home Soil is Key

The knockout stages by their very nature leave no room for error and so there will be surprises, but we feel strongly that home advantage for the Egyptians will be the deciding. With a refreshed Mo Salah hitting his best form, we expect the Pharaohs to win it.

Big Pick: Egypt will win the Africa Cup of Nations

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