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African Cup of Nations Tips: Can Togo shock highly-rated Ivory Coast?

Didier Drogba celebrates scoring against Austria in November

"Khlifa and Khazri are dangerous attacking players for Tunisia who should be available at good prices to score"

Khlifa and Khazri To Score v Algeria @ 4.03/1 and 8.07/1 respectively

As the runaway favourites enter the fray, James Eastham tells you where to put your money on day four of the finals.

Ivory Coast v Togo (Tue)

Live on British Eurosport, 15:00 GMT, Match Odds: Ivory Coast 1.351/3, Togo 13.5n/a, The Draw 5.04/1
Will this be the year Ivory Coast - unofficially Africa's finest team for the best part of a decade - finally get their hands on the trophy? At 2.6213/8 to end their wait to be crowned African champions, the market thinks so.

The chances of the tournament favourites making a winning start look good, too. Togo's preparations have been blighted by a pay dispute between players and officials, so the level of focus in the camp may be less than what's necessary to beat Ivory Coast. Some of the senior Togo players that threatened to boycott the tournament are there, including star striker Emmanuel Adebayor, but it's little surprise they're 210.0209/1 to win the tournament and such big odds to collect anything from this game (see above).

One reason Togo might get something is outstanding goalkeeper Kossi Agassa. In France, he was Ligue 2's best goalkeeper at Reims last season. Following the famous old club's promotion to the top flight last May, he has stepped up effortlessly at the higher level, establishing himself as one of the best three or four goalkeepers in Ligue 1 this season. He alone may not be enough to earn a Togo draw or victory, but if he carries his club form into the finals, he stands a chance of keeping the score down.

Throw in the fact Ivory Coast have one of the continent's most obdurate defences - they didn't concede a goal on route to the final 12 months ago, and even though they're more open under new coach Sabri Lamouchi, some of that resolution remains intact - and under 2.5 goals is worth considering. Ivory Coast's formidable array of attacking talent means unders will always be a fairly big price when they play, so this is a decent opportunity to try to profit from that.

Tunisia v Algeria (Tue)
Live on British Eurosport & ITV4, 18:00 GMT, Match Odds: Tunisia 2.9215/8, Algeria 2.8615/8, The Draw 3.211/5

Algeria missed out on the finals 12 months ago but stand a chance of making an impact this year.

The most appealing aspect of their team is just off the front man, where Foued Kadir, Ryad Boudebouz and Sofiane Feghouli are three wonderfully creative ball-players. Kadir, now at Marseille, is arguably Ligue 1's most underrated player of the past 18 months; Boudebouz is an inventive if inconsistent playmaker; and Feghouli is flourishing at Valencia, who picked him up in from Grenoble.

The presence of those three - who may not all start - promises delightful moments from Algeria, although Tunisia - quarter-finalists 12 months ago - will pose a stiff challenge. In Aymen Abdennour they have one of the tournament's most uncompromising centre-halves, and striker Saber Khlifa is one to watch. A quick, powerful and direct forward, he's a streaky goalscorer that could become a Golden Boot contender if he makes a good start.

Look out, too, for Wahbi Khazri: the former France U21 international has scored 12 goals and set-up another 12 in 50 French league games for Bastia over the past 18 months.

The market gives the two sides virtually the same chance of winning the game. It's hard to disagree. I would split my stakes across Khlifa and Khazri, backing both to find the net. They should be available at good prices when the market has liquidity.

Recommended Bets

Best Bet: Saber Khlifa and Wahbi Khazri To Score for Tunisia v Algeria @ 4.03/1 and 8.07/1 respectively (split your stakes)
Ivory Coast v Togo under 2.5 goals @ 1.9210/11

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21 January 2013


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