African Cup of Nations betting: All you need to know
Soccer fans across Africa and beyond have had to wait patiently for the latest edition of the continent’s greatest tournament. But at last, after a 12-month delay because of Covid-19, here it is. The African Cup of Nations 2021 dates are January 9 to February 2022 – bring it on.
Algeria landed the African Cup of Nations for the second time in their history with a 1-0 victory over Senegal in Cairo. Baghdad Bounedjah’s deflected second-minute shot from long range was enough to seal the trophy for a side who overcame the Ivory Coast and Nigeria to reach the final.
Golden Boot Winner
Odion Ighalo (Nigeria)
Odion Ighalo, who had moved from Watford to Chinese soccer more than two years previously, found the net five times during the tournament. His goals took Nigeria all the way to the semi-finals and a third-place finish – and helped to secure a loan move six months later to the club he had supported as a boy, Manchester United.
Golden Ball Winner
Rais M’Bolhi (Algeria)
Algeria’s progress to the trophy was founded on the outstanding performances in goal of Rais M’Bolhi. In seven matches, the French-born 33-year-old goalkeeper conceded just two goals – and won the Man of the Match award in the final against Senegal. It was the crowning moment in a career that had seen M’Bolhi play in several leagues around the world.
The battle to win the African Cup of Nations 2021 is certain to be intense and there are several leading contenders at the head of the Afcon betting for the tournament winner. Egypt, propelled by the goals of Liverpool’s Mo Salah, are likely to start as favorites. They have won the tournament a record seven times, although their last win was as long ago as 2010. Egypt cruised through the Afcon qualifiers, conceding only three goals in their unbeaten Group G campaign.
Ghana has not won the trophy since their fourth triumph in 1982 but will have plenty of supporters after topping their Afcon qualifiers group ahead of Sudan. Senegal, runners-up in 2019, were the first team to reach the finals through the Afcon qualifiers and have strong hopes of going one better this time. Ivory Coast, twice winners in the past, will also have plenty of supporters in the Afcon betting. As will Cameroon, hosts and five-time champions – although no host nation has won the trophy since Egypt in 2006.
Many of the most lethal African strikers ply their trade in the top European leagues. They will no doubt have their supporters in the Afcon betting as fans try to predict who will win the Golden Boot this time. However, it’s worth noting that none of the men who topped the goalscoring charts at the last three tournaments played for the team that lifted the trophy. Nevertheless, many fans in Egypt and beyond will be convinced that Premier League sensation Mo Salah will translate his stunning Liverpool form to the international stage.
Intriguingly, one of Salah’s leading rivals for the Golden Boot, and in the African Cup of Nations odds, could be one of his club-mates. The excellent Sadio Mane will spearhead Senegal’s bid to win the trophy for the first time. And if Gabon go deep into the tournament, it will probably mean that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Arsenal is hitting the net regularly. Similarly, Hakim Ziyech of Chelsea could reward support if Morocco get further than the last 16 stage, where they went out in 2019.
This is sure to be one of the most popular Afcon betting markets in the countdown to the tournament. There will be many African Cup of Nations final predictions as bettors try to work out which two teams will face off for the trophy. The form lines for this particular wager are especially hard to predict. Over the last five tournaments, no fewer than nine different nations have reached the final, with only Ivory Coast getting to the last stage twice.
It’s also not possible to be sure that teams who meet in the group stage will not clash again in the final. Algeria and Senegal, who dueled for the trophy in 2019, were in the same group. Leading teams such as Egypt, Ghana and Nigeria will surely go a long way in the tournament – and it’s often worth checking out the form of sides in the group stage to see if you can pick out a team that will pick up momentum as the matches go by.
Cameroon was originally awarded the honor of hosting the 2019 tournament, but in 2018 the decision was made to switch them to the African Cup of Nations 2021 instead. The event was then postponed for 12 months because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The event will no doubt get a warm welcome from the people of Cameroon, which has hosted the event once before, in 1982. Cameroon has been African Cup of Nations champions five times, and in 1990 became the first African nation to reach the quarter finals of the FIFA World Cup.
This newly constructed ground in the capital Yaounde, named after long serving Cameroon president Paul Biya, will hold 60,000 fans and will undoubtedly be packed when the hosts open the African Cup of Nations 2021 against Burkina Faso. They will hope Cameroon are back when the venue stages the final a few weeks later.
Six of the countries competing at the tournament have won the trophy more than once:
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