African Nations Cup Day 6 Tips: Low-scoring trend looks set to continue

Angers and Morocco forward Sofiane Boufal
Sofiane Boufal celebrates scoring Morocco's winner against Ghana in their opening game

As the tournament gathers pace, James Eastham looks at four intriguing fixtures taking place on Friday and picks out the smartest bets...

"Morocco’s strength is their defence: their clean sheet vs Ghana (1-0 win) was the 10th in their last 11 fixtures. The smart play is to find ways to profit from Morocco's defensive excellence."

Best Bet: Back Morocco vs Comoros Under 2.0 & 2.5 on the Goal Lines market @ 1.9520/21

Focus on the goals markets

One of the main challenges for African Nations Cup-watchers at the moment is trying to work out whether the low-scoring pattern that dominated the opening round of group games will continue, or whether we're about to see a glut of goals that will see the average goals-per-game count rise.

Senegal vs Guinea (Group B)
Fri, 13:00 GMT

We suspect the low-scoring pattern is set to continue, at least during Friday's matches. Senegal vs Guinea is the day's big game, and there are no obvious reasons to believe this will be a high-scoring encounter.

Senegal struggled to create chances in their opening-game 1-0 win over Zimbabwe, needing a last-minute Sadio Mane penalty to claim the points. Guinea also ran out 1-0 winners (vs Malawi) and were similarly unimpressive in the final third.

With three points on the board, Guinea are likely to adopt a defensive approach here against tournament favourites Senegal. Guinea's interim coach Kaba Diawara experimented with a back five during his team's final warm-up friendlies, and we may see those safety-first tactics used here.

Given how poorly Senegal played in their opening game, there's every reason to believe Guinea can frustrate the opposition. Under 2.0 Goals is available at 1.84/5 and that's our selection.

Malawi vs Zimbabwe (Group B)
Fri, 16:00 GMT

Malawi vs Zimbabwe sees two of the competition's weaker sides go head-to-head.

Both sides suffered 1-0 losses in their opening games, and both have struggled for goals in recent months: Malawi have scored just four times in their last eight internationals, with netting just twice in their last eight internationals. We're happy to back Under 2.0 Goals.

Morocco vs Comoros (Group C)
Fri, 16:00 GMT

Before the tournament began, we backed Morocco to win Group C at 2.01/1. The Atlas Lions are in a strong position to do so after their opening-game 1-0 win over Ghana, and will be confident of making it two wins from two as they take on gutsy but limited Comoros.

Morocco's strength is their defence: their clean sheet against Ghana was the 10th in their last 11 fixtures. Instead of backing Morocco to collect all three points at odds of 1.251/4, the smart play is to look for ways to make their defensive excellence pay instead.

In the Correct Score market, Morocco to win 1-0 and 2-0 are available at 4.47/2 and 4.57/2 respectively. At 1.51/2, 'Yes' in the Morocco Win to Nil market is too short to attract much attention, the same applying to Morocco in the Clean Sheet market at 1.331/3.

The Correct Score Combinations market is more interesting. Morocco to win 1-0, 2-0 or 3-0 is available at 1.715/7, which is the smartest way to back Morocco to win and to keep a clean sheet.

Alternatively, take a look at Under 2.0 & 2.5 on the Goal Lines market at 1.9520/21. With this selection, you'll make a profit as long as the game has two goals or fewer.

Gabon vs Ghana (Group C)
Fri, 19:00 GMT

Gabon are in the driving seat ahead of their game against Ghana on Thursday evening.

Gabon have three points on the board thanks to their opening-game 1-0 win over Comoros, while Ghana are under pressure after losing to Morocco by the same scoreline. These points tallies mean Gabon are likely to play for a draw here, as another point would put them within touching distance of a place in the knockout phase.

The onus is therefore on Ghana to open up the Gabon defence. Yet the Black Stars were poor in the final third in that opening game against Morocco, just as they were in their final pre-tournament friendly against Algeria (3-0 defeat).

Gabon's likely tactical approach, combined with Ghana's attacking problems, makes a low-scoring encounter likely here as well.

PREM WATCH

Sadio Mane got off the scoring mark with the penalty winner in Senegal's opening game and will also be the go-to man for the tournament favourites here. The Liverpool striker is 2.757/4 against Guinea in the Anytime Goalscorer market, and 6.05/1 second favourite (behind Cameroon's Vincent Aboubakar) in the outright Top Goalscorer market.

Jordan Ayew is expected to lead the line for Ghana, and the Black Stars need him at his best against Gabon. The Crystal Palace front man is 3.613/5 in the Anytime Goalscorer market, although his strike rate of 18 goals in 73 appearances for his country suggests little value in those odds.

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JAMES' AFCON 2022 P/L

Staked: 10pts
Returned: +7.85pts
P/L: -2.15pts

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