Africa Cup of Nations odds: Salah’s Egypt third favourites but Mane’s Senegal lead the way
Leading contenders in the Africa Cup of Nations odds
The twice rescheduled Africa Cup of Nations finally gets under way this weekend and there are plenty of Premier League clubs who could be missing their star players for up to a month.
Liverpool are without both Mo Salah and Sadio Mane, while Crystal Palace are also missing two of their main strikers in the shape of Wilfried Zaha and Jordan Ayew.
Cameroon will host the event for the first time in 50 years, with 24 teams split into six groups of four.
The top two and the four best third-placed teams will qualify for the round of 16 at which point the event becomes a knockout stage.
— CAF Media (@CAF_Media) January 5, 2022
Senegal have never won the tournament but reached the final in 2019 and are 4/1 favourites in the Africa Cup of Nations odds to finally get their hands on the trophy they probably should have won against Algeria two and a half years ago
The Lions of Teranga had 62% possession, a penalty decision reversed following a VAR review and M’Baye Niang blew a great chance to level when he rounded the keeper only to shoot over, while Ismaila Sarr cleared the bar from a great position.
We’re looking at some of the best hopes to win the tournament which starts on Sunday when hosts Cameroon take on Burkina Faso.
Star names run through the Senegal squad which includes Liverpool’s Mane, Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, PSG defender Abdou Diallo and midfield team-mate Idrissa Gueye among their ranks, while Ismaila Sarr has been released to play by Watford following a complaint by his country to FIFA.
— Football (@FootballSenegal) January 4, 2022
Only Morocco had a better World Cup qualification campaign than Senegal, who won five and drew one of their six games and are 20th in the FIFA rankings, the highest of all African nations.
The reigning champions beat Senegal in the 2019 showpiece when Baghdad Bounedjah’s second-minute deflected strike from the edge of the box proved to be the only goal of the game and they are 5/1 in the Africa Cup of Nations betting to win the tournament again.
Algeria, the world’s third highest ranked African team, have eight members of the side that started the final in Cairo in the current squad which includes Manchester City skipper Riyad Mahrez and West Ham attacker Said Benrahma.
The 2019 hosts have won this tournament more than any other nation, although the last of their seven successes came in Angola 12 years ago when they beat Ghana in the final.
The Pharaohs also reached the final in 2017 when Arsenal midfielder Mohamed Elneny gave his side a half-time lead following an assist from Salah, but Cameroon scored twice in the last half an hour to win the tournament for a fifth time.
Egypt drew their first two qualifiers but still ended up as group winners with three wins and three draws from their six games, and they eased into the third round of World Cup qualifying with 14 points from a possible 18.
Salah has been in sensational form for Liverpool and although his team-mates do not possess the quality of the Reds, the likes of Elneny and Aston Villa midfielder Trezeguet bring a mixture of steel and creativity to Egypt who are 15/2 in the outright Africa Cup of Nations odds.
The 2015 champions have reached at least the semi-finals four times this century and have some serious talent in their squad, including Zaha, in-form Ajax striker Sebastian Haller, Arsenal winger Nicolas Pepe, Manchester United defender Eric Bailly, Lazio midfielder Jean-Daniel Akpa Akpro and Burnley attacker Maxwel Cornet amongst others.
Ivory Coast surprisingly lost their second qualifier in Ethiopia but recovered to win three of their next four games to advance as group winners, but they will not be heading to Qatar in December having finished behind Cameroon.
— FIFCI (@FIFCI_tweet) December 31, 2021
Strangely, on all four occasions Ivory Coast have reached the final the match has ended 0-0 after extra time and gone to penalties as it did against Ghana six years ago.
Patrice Beaumelle is the man tasked with bringing a third title to Ivory Coast who are 15/2 in the Africa Cup of Nations odds.
Twenty members of Cameroon’s squad represent top-flight European clubs, nine of whom play in Ligue 1 in France, and they are 8/1 to repeat their success of 2017.
The Indomitable Lions finished just ahead of Cape Verde in their qualification group and in November reached the third round of qualifying for the World Cup with a winner-takes-all victory against Ivory Coast.
The hosts get the ball rolling in Sunday’s curtain raiser and they are 1/2 to win a group also containing Ethiopia and Covid-hit Cape Verde.
Best of the rest
Morocco are the second highest ranked African team in the FIFA world standings but they are 9/1 in the Africa Cup of Nations odds to win the tournament for the first time since 1976.
PSG right-back Achraf Hakimi is Morocco’s star man, but young striker Abdessamad Ezzalzouli has been getting a few starts for Barcelona this season and could make an impression for a team that were unbeaten in qualifying for this tournament and won all six group games for the World Cup.
— #TotalEnergiesAFCON2021 🏆 (@CAF_Online) January 2, 2022
Nigeria have one of Europe’s most exciting strikers in Napoli’s Victor Osimhen who topped the scoring charts in qualification with five goals.
The Super Eagles also have several Premier League players in their squad, including Brentford midfielder Frank Onyeka, Everton forward Alex Iwobi and Leicester duo Kelechi Iheanacho and Wilfred Ndidi so odds of 10/1 on them repeating their 2013 triumph look reasonable.
All odds and markets correct as of date of publication