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African Nations Cup Third Place Play Off: Also-rans to take game to wire

Tunisia manager Alain Giresse
Tunisia Alain Giresse has built a well-organised side that are hard to play against

With a profit on the tournament already guaranteed and having pushed for the two finalists before the competition kicked-off, James Eastham picks out the best bets on the game for third place...

"Tunisia’s W1-D5-L0 record on games in 90 minutes at this tournament shows how difficult they are to beat and suggests The Draw could be the smart selection on this match."

Best Bet: Back The Draw @ 3.211/5

Close game likely and the trend says goals

Tunisia vs Nigeria
Wednesday 17 July, 20:00
Live on Eurosport 2

It's the game nobody wants to play so we are likely to see plenty of changes to the starting line-ups when Tunisia and Nigeria go head-to-head in the third-place play-off in Cairo on Wednesday night. Tunisia are still recovering from their extra-time semi-final defeat to Senegal while Nigeria are licking their wounds after going out to a Riyad Mahrez injury-time free-kick against Algeria.

The potential for a lack of motivation on both sides is the great unknown. How much will these two sides want to win? How focused can the players possibly be on a game that doesn't really matter? If managers Alain Giresse (Tunisia) and Gernot Rohr (Nigeria) rotate heavily, will the players handed a chance to catch the eye genuinely be keen to impress, or apathetic?

Looking at how the two sides have played across the tournament, Nigeria deserve to be favourites. They collected more points than Tunisia during the group phase (six vs three) and then won their first two knock-out games - 3-2 vs Cameroon in the second round, 2-1 vs South Africa in the last eight - without needing extra-time.

Tunisia have won just one of their six games to date, and on the occasion of that victory, a 3-0 win over Madagascar, really only played well in the second-half. Their 90-minute record reads W1-D5-L0, which shows what a struggle they've had to win matches.

Tunisia's record also shows how difficult they are to beat, however, suggesting The Draw could be the smart selection on this match. Nigeria are 2.68/5 to win in 90 minutes, with Tunisia 3.259/4 and The Draw 3.211/5. Of those three options, the stalemate's comfortably the most appealing.

One significant trend on the tournament is that the knockout phase has been higher-scoring than the group stages. The 36 group matches averaged just 1.75 goals a game, with only eight of them (22%) featuring Over 2.5 Goals. During the knockout phase, the average goals-per-game count (in 90 minutes) has risen to 2.21, with six of 14 knockout games (43%) featuring Over 2.5 Goals. Both teams have scored in seven of 14 (50%) knockout games.

Given how this trend has developed there may be some interest in backing a high-scoring game. Over 2.5 Goals is available at 2.56/4, while 'Yes' in the Both teams to Score? Market is available at 2.111/10. Both are worth considering.

James’ tournament P/L

Staked: 48pts
Returned: +55.10pts
P/L: +7.10pts (15% ROI)

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