Africa Cup of Nations

Africa Cup of Nations QF Tips: Hosts Ivory Coast facing tough challenge from Mali

Cape Verde and Fatih Karagumruk striker Ryan Mendes
Ryan Mendes will be a key threat for Cape Verde

The goalscorer markets offer the best value on Saturday's Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals, writes James Eastham...

  • Underrated Mali deserve support

  • Back Sinayoko to find the net

  • Percy Tau the player to follow

Mali vs Ivory Coast - Sat, 17.00

What to make of hosts Ivory Coast, so close to crashing out of this most unpredictable of tournaments in the group phase, and now among the favourites to win it?

The Elephants' penalty shoot-out victory over holders Senegal at the Last 16 stage has sent fans crazy and expectations sky high. Yet in reality Ivory Coast are not playing that well.

They weren't bad against Senegal, but they weren't great, either. Are they playing well enough to justify their status as 2.47/5 favourites against Mali? Not really.

Eric Chelle's Mali - 3.8514/5 to win this game in 90 minutes - have quietly impressed all the way through this tournament. Well-organised, resilient and making progress thanks to three goals from emerging star Lassine Sinayoko, who plays his club football for Auxerre, in France's Ligue 2 - they won Group E thanks to their W1-D2-L0 record before beating Burkina Faso 2-1 in the Last 16.

It's understandable that Mali are underdogs given that Ivory Coast have home advantage and momentum. At the prices available, however, we'd rather be with Mali. Based on how the two sides have played, plus the relative quality of the likely starting line-ups, Mali appear underrated.

Our selection is to back Mali on the Asian Handicap. Alternatively, consider Mali on the Draw No Bet market at 8/52.60 or Mali And Draw on the Double Chance market at 4/61.67.

Back Mali 0 & +0.5 Asian Handicap @ 2.01/1

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Cape Verde vs South Africa - Sat, 20.00

The market finds it almost impossible to separate these two sides and an extremely close game appears on the cards.

Cape Verde are 2.915/8 to win, while South Africa are 3.02/1 and the Draw is 3.02/1. It's difficult to argue with those odds given how well-matched the teams are.

Both teams have played entertaing, effective football at times. Cape Verde have been slightly the more impressive results-wise - they're W3-D1-L0 from four matches, whereas South Africa are W2-D1-L1 - but South Africa have beaten higher calibre opposition thanks to their 2-0 win over Morocco in the Last 16.

For selections on the game, we prefer looking to the goalscorer markets. Ryan Mendes is Cape Verde's all-time leading scorer (17 goals) and scored the crucial late penalty as they beat Mauritania (1-0) in the Last 16.

The fact that Mendes should be on penalties again here helps, and the former Lille forward will also be dangerous in open play.

For South Africa, Percy Tau is our selection. His experience (45 appearances) will be crucial - and, like Mendes, he's likely to be on penalties.

Mendes is available at 4/15.00 in the Player to Score market while Tau is 10/34.33. We suggest splitting your stakes across the pair.

Back Ryan Mendes in the Player to Score market @ 4/15.00

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And why not try this Bet Builder?

Back Mali And Draw in the Double Chance market and Lassine Sinayoko in the Player to Score market @ 11/26.50

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Recommended bets

James' AFCON P/L

Staked: 34pts
Returned: +29.94pts
P/L: -4.06pts

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Prices quoted in copy are correct at time of publication but liable to change.