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African Nations Cup Last 16: Senegal set to shine, Morocco facing tough Benin test

Liverpool and Senegal attacker Sadio Mane
Sadio Mane scored twice in Senegal's 3-0 final group game win over Kenya

After eight profitable days out of 12 and 14% ROI overall in the group phase, James Eastham brings you the smartest selections as the knockout phase gets under way in Egypt...

"Senegal’s goalscoring potential is clear: Sadio Mane and Ismaila Sarr got on the scoresheet in the 3-0 win over Kenya, and there are other talented attackers in their squad, too."

Best Bet: Senegal -0.5&-1.0 Asian Handicap v Uganda @ 1.910/11

Back obdurate Benin to avoid defeat

Morocco vs Benin
Friday 5 July, 17:00 BST
Live on Eurosport 2

Based on how these two sides played during the group phase, this encounter in Cairo looks set to be a lot closer than the market thinks. Morocco are 1.664/6 favourites, with Benin 7.413/2 and The Draw 3.55/2.

If you look at the final group tables, then Morocco's status as odds-on favourites makes sense: Herve Renard's side topped Group D with a perfect record of nine points from three games, while Benin made it through to the knockout phase with a much poorer record of just three points from three games. Benin drew all three of their first-round fixtures to qualify out of Group F as one of the best-third placed teams.

All's not as it seems, however: all three of Morocco's wins came by a 1-0 scoreline, and only one of their three performances was convincing: they were the better team in their big match vs Ivory Coast, but needed a late own goal to see off Namibia and a late free-kick winner to clinch a win over South Africa.

Morocco deserve to be favourites - but their chances of winning in 90 minutes are clearly overrated. Benin have yet to lose in this competition, having earned draws against Ghana (2-2) and Cameroon (0-0). The value lies with one of the three following options: laying Morocco in the Match Odds market, backing the game to finish in a draw after 90 minutes or supporting Benin with an Asian Handicap start (for a full guide to Asian Handicap betting, click here).

The other market to consider is Under 1.5 Goals. Five of the six group matches involving these two teams featured no goals or one goal. Morocco are likely to enjoy more of the possession and do more of the attacking but their lack of a cutting edge in the final third in open play was obvious throughout their group phase performances. Under 1.5 Goals is an appealing selection at 2.47/5.

Title contenders to roar through to last eight

Uganda vs Senegal
Friday 5 July, 20:00 BST
Live on Eurosport 2

Senegal are strong favourites to see off Uganda and claim their place in the quarter-finals. The short odds on a Senegal win seem fair given the difference in quality between the teams. Senegal are 1.618/13 to win in 90 minutes, with Uganda 8.27/1 and The Draw 3.711/4.

Senegal won two of their three group games, beating Tanzania 2-0 and Kenya 3-0 to make it to the knockout phase. In between those two victories they lost 1-0 to a very good Algeria side but there's hardly any chance Uganda will pose the same threat Algeria did.

Senegal's goalscoring potential is clear: in a low-scoring tournament they're one of only two teams (Algeria being the other) that managed to score twice and three times in two separate group games. Sadio Mane and Ismaila Sarr got on the scoresheet in the win over Kenya and there are other talented attackers in their squad, too.

Uganda started the tournament strongly with their surprise 2-0 win over DR Congo but have faded since then: they could only draw 1-1 with Zimbabwe and then lost 2-0 to hosts Egypt in their final group game. There's a good chance Sebastien Desabre's players have peaked, and will find this fixture against Senegal a game too far.

With Senegal odds-on to win consider backing the favourites at around evens on the Asian Handicap. With our selection you'd make a small profit if Senegal win by a single goal and a bigger profit if they win by two or more goals - something the Lions of Teranga have shown they're eminently capable of doing.

James’ tournament P/L

Staked: 36pts
Returned: +41.05pts
P/L: +5.05pts

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