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African Nations Cup Quarter Finals: Tournament favourites Senegal to finally find their rhythm

Liverpool and Senegal winger Sadio Mane
Sadio Mane is tournament joint-top scorer with three goals

After making a profit on the last-16 phase having already done so on the group stages, James Eastham previews the first of the quarter-final clashes taking place on Wednesday...

"Senegal have shown flashes of the attacking quality they have and it shouldn't go unnoticed that they've kept three clean sheets in four matches."

Best Bet: Back Senegal -1.0 Asian Handicap vs Benin @ 1.910/11

Favourites' firepower to make the difference

Senegal vs Benin
Wednesday 10 July, 17:00 BST
Live on Eurosport 2

Senegal haven't been at their best so far in these finals but Aliou Cisse's players deserve their status as clear favourites to see off Benin to reach the last four. It says something about the Lions of Teranga that they've got this far relatively unscathed even though they've yet to truly find their rhythm.

Senegal could finish only second behind Algeria in Group C and were then unconvincing in beating Uganda 1-0 in the second round. They've shown flashes of the attacking quality they have, however, and it shouldn't go unnoticed that they've kept three clean sheets in four matches.

That defensive record plus their attacking potential is the reason we're happy to back Senegal on the Asian Handicap. The odds of 1.528/15 on Senegal winning in 90 minutes will be too short for many observers so we prefer backing them with a -1.0 Asian Handicap start. With this selection you'll get your stakes back if Senegal win by a single goal and make a profit if they win by two or more goals.

Benin will be difficult opposition - they've drawn all four of their matches to date (in 90 minutes) - but this will be their toughest test yet and they're unlikely to pass it. The Squirrels a deeply limited attacking side - they failed to score in two of their group games and created virtually nothing in the final third in their 1-1 draw against Morocco in the second round (Benin won on penalties).

Defensively Benin can be solid but the absence of the suspended Khaled Adenon is a significant blow. Adenon provides experience and leadership, and fellow centre-back Olivier Verdon will be more vulnerable without Adenon alongside him.

Unimpressive Super Eagles overrated

Nigeria vs South Africa
Wednesday 10 July, 20:00 BST
Live on Eurosport 2

Underdogs South Africa are the value pick as they look to produce a shock victory against much-fancied Nigeria on Wednesday evening. The Super Eagles are 2.111/10 favourites to win in 90 minutes but this price holds little appeal given how unconvincing Gernot Rohr's highly-regarded players have been.

Nigeria finished second in Group B after a 2-0 defeat to tournament debutants Madagascar in their final group match. They saw off a mediocre Cameroon side 3-2 in the second round but needed some poor defending and questionable decision-making from Cameroon coach Clarence Seedorf to get back into a match that appeared to be getting away from them.

Nigeria have the individual quality and collective potential to win this game in 90 minutes but nothing justifies their short odds to claim victory in normal time. South Africa produced arguably the performance of the second round when they secured an unexpected yet totally deserved 1-0 win over hosts Egypt in Cairo so will carry great momentum from that triumph into this game.

It would be a risk to back South Africa to win: they're better at shutting out the opposition than they are creating scoring chances. Yet there's no need to back the Bafana Bafana to win in 90 minutes: their big odds to do so simply opens up worthwhile opportunities to support them in other markets.

Consider laying Nigeria to win in 90 minutes, backing The Draw or backing South Africa with a small start on the Asian Handicap. Of those three options, we favour the game ending in a stalemate in 90 minutes: the odds of 3.211/5 on this happening underrate South Africa's chances of taking this game into extra-time.

James’ tournament P/L

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

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