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African Nations Cup Quarter-Finals: Shocks and thrills on cards in Egypt

Nottingham Forest and Algeria midfielder Adlene Guedioura
Algeria midfielder Adlene Guedioura celebrates his side's 3-0 second-round win over Guinea

Having made a healthy profit on the tournament so far, James Eastham previews the second day of quarter-final action, taking place on Thursday...

"On the basis of what has gone before at the tournament, this looks an evenly-matched contest, and Madagascar arguably deserve to be minor favourites."

Best Bet: Back Madagascar in the 'To Qualify' market vs Tunisia @ 3.39/4

Goals at both ends the smart bet

Ivory Coast vs Algeria
Thursday 11 July, 17:00 BST
Live on Eurosport 2

We backed Algeria before the tournament began and the Fennecs have been the best team in the competition. They were 14.013/1 to lift the trophy when we flagged them up and are now trading as 4.67/2 second favourites behind Senegal.

The significant change in price means you could lay off Algeria to lock in a small profit but we prefer to let our bet run. Algeria are 2.285/4 to claim victory in 90 minutes in this quarter-final clash, with Ivory Coast 3.814/5 and The Draw 3.185/40.

There are plenty of reasons to support Algeria. They've won four out of four games, scoring nine goals and conceding none. Virtually every member of their highly settled starting line-up has played well, and they have tremendous quality on the bench, too: Napoli winger Adam Ounas is the tournament's three-goal joint-top scorer despite spending only 88 minutes on the pitch.

Ivory Coast have yet to play to their potential but it would be foolish to write them off. They laboured to a 1-0 win over Mali in the second round but they have tremendous individual quality in attack and it's starting to show: for example, Wilfried Zaha has scored in each of their past two games and will be the danger man here.

Wilf Zaha 1280.jpg

Given the attacking pedigree of these two sides the chances of there being goals are underrated. The price of 2.915/8 Over 2.5 Goals reflects the fact that only 10 of 44 (23%) games in the tournament have had over 2.5 goals but it's worth noting that Over 2.5 Goals occurred in three of eight last-16 clashes.

We prefer 'Yes' in the Both teams to Score market at an odds-against price, however. We don't believe Algeria's clean-sheets record can go on forever, and Ivory Coast have the firepower to end it. An Algeria line-up containing Riyad Mahrez (two goals), in-form Youcef Belail (two goals) and Baghdad Bounedjah should also be able to find the net in normal time.

Madagascar underrated once again

Madagascar vs Tunisia
Thursday 11 July, 20:00 BST
Live on Eurosport 2

Madagascar have played better football than Tunisia at this tournament yet the market is still struggling to take Nicolas Dupuis' side seriously. Madagascar are 5.69/2 to win in 90 minutes, with Tunisia 1.865/6 and The Draw 3.39/4.

Consider the evidence. Madagascar topped Group B with seven points from three games, beating Nigeria, one of the tournament favourites, 2-0 in their final group game. They then played as well as DR Congo in the second round, winning 4-2 on penalties after a 2-2 draw.

Tunisia finished second in Group E - on paper, no stronger than Group B - with three points after three straight draws. They then won 5-4 on penalties after a 1-1 draw against Ghana in the second round.

On the basis of what has gone before this looks an evenly-matched contest, and Madagascar arguably deserve to be minor favourites. It's nigh-on impossible to justify Tunisia's status as odds-favourites given Alain Giresse's side have yet to win in 90 minutes in four outings.

The big price on Madagascar throws up other good ways of backing them. Options to consider include laying Tunisia to win, backing Madagascar with a +0.5 start on the Asian Handicap or simply backing Madagascar in the To Qualify market. The latter's our preference: the odds on the underdogs reaching the semi-finals are simply too good to ignore.

James’ tournament P/L

Staked: 44pts
Returned: +50.50pts
P/L: +6.50pts

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