Dave Farrar predicts Egypt and Mali will pip another couple of close-run games against Ghana and Uganda.
“I'm tempted to play the Asian Handicap again, but I'll take a risk here and back Mali for the win. It's with a nod to their price, but still, in a close game, a sensible and potentially profitable play.”
This is an intriguing one: two closely matched countries who both had good results on the opening day. Ghana needed a penalty to get past a physically strong and slightly uninspired Uganda, while Mali were strong and resolute as they got a draw against Egypt which sets them up well for the rest of the Group.
Mali will feel that, if they draw this game as well, and then beat Uganda in their final match, then that could be enough to qualify. This group, though, may be even tighter than that, and if everyone beats Uganda, then Mali will be vulnerable.
Mali have drawn their last two competitive internationals 0-0, and that scoreline has to be a big runner here against a Ghana side that can also struggle in front of goal, but is solid defensively.
Ghana had some troubling results in a weak qualifying group, and I can't recommend them with confidence here after they again failed to shine against the Ugandans. I think that this one will be another extremely tight game, but I also think that it's priced a little too much in Ghana's favour.
Mali have a good record in this Africa Cup of Nations (as do Ghana) and deserve a little more respect than that. I'm tempted to play the Asian Handicap again, but I'll take a risk here and back Mali for the win. It's with a nod to their price, but still, in a close game, a sensible and potentially profitable play.
Recommended Bet: Back Mali to beat Ghana @ [4.0]
Egypt let us down in their opening game, failing to beat Mali at a short price, and while I always worry about them as a threat in the outright market (I've seen too many of these AFCON tournaments over the years not to) I don't think that they're good enough to win the whole thing.
They're still good enough to be a factor in the quarter finals, getting out of this group and causing problems, and that path is likely to start against Uganda.
Uganda didn't look awful in their opener against Ghana, but performed as we expected. Their qualifying results showed us that they would be a team in the Togo and DR Congo mould. Unambitious, and extremely hard to break down. And so it proved.
That expectation is why you can back Egypt to beat them here at something approaching a reasonable price. They're available at around [1.85], and while I'm still a little sore at Algeria's failure to get past Zimbabwe, I'll trust another short priced North African team on the basis that they are simply too big.
There's some mileage too in looking at the Egypt 1-0 in the Correct Score market at around [7.0], but I think they'll win this and take some of the pressure off their final game, sending Uganda swiftly towards the exit.
Recommended Bet: Back Egypt to beat Uganda @ [1.85]