African Cup of Nations 2017

Gabon host the 31st AFCON and there is a place available at the Confederations Cup for the winner of the tournament.



I’m going to take a look at the markets on offer and hopefully highlight some of the best bets.

You can watch the tournament live on British Eurosport.


Defending champions and two-time winners Ivory Coast go into the tournament with the pressure of knowing they’re the ones to beat.

However they struggled in their qualifying group, which featured just Sierra Leone and Sudan. The Elephants only won one of their four games, drawing the other three and only netted three goals.

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Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha switched allegiances and will play a big part in this Elephants side. He was on the scoresheet in a friendly win over Uganda the other day.

Jonathan Kodjia is likely to be the biggest part of the puzzle. If they can get him scoring goals then they’ll be winning games because they don’t concede many goals – just four let in on their way to glory in 2015.

The Ivoirians are in a tricky little group. DR Congo will offer a stubborn test for top spot with some useful players in their side. Chancel Mbemba will lead their defence with Cedric Bakambu and Dieumerci Mbokani likely to spearhead the attack. Despite the absence of creator in chief Yannick Bolasie being out injured they have a unity in the squad and can cause a few problems.

Morocco are without a number of key players including Southampton’s Sofiane Boufal, so they’ll have their work cut out, as will Togo likely to build a squad around free agent Emmanuel Adebayor.

Senegal made light work of a weak qualifying group winning all six matches, scoring 13 goals and conceding just two in the process.

There looks to be a good balance in Aliou Cisse’s squad despite pressure from the nation to get the best out of this set of players.

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Solid at the back with Kalidou Koulibaly who will have protection in front of him with Everton’s Idrissa Gueye and West Ham’s Cheikhou Kouyate.

There is plenty to like going forward with Saido Mane the key creator. Moussa Sow has been recalled to the squad and his pace will add something in behind while Stoke’s Mame Biram Diouf is likely to get plenty of chances with those creative forces. There is plenty to like about this squad and hopefully they’ll perform.

This group (B) looks between these and Algeria in truth. As we know Algeria have Leicester pair Riyad Mahrez and Islam Slimani but they come into this competition in dubious form under George Leekens, who is still trying to get the best out of his men.

They dropped two points in qualifying to get here but in recent times they’ve struggled. Just one point from their opening two World Cup qualifiers sees them sit bottom but they do come up against Nigeria, Cameroon and 2012 AFCON champions Zambia.

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Hillel Soudani was top scorer in qualification and the Algerian could be in for a good tournament with the quality he has around him. If Leekens can balance this squad then they could go far.

Tunisia will give as good as they get and they beat Algeria back in 2013. They’ll be well organised and hoping to keep games as tight as they can to frustrate. Zimbabwe are here for the first time since 2006 but their appearance will only be a fleeting one given the strength of the competition and off-the-field problems.

Group D looks a tasty one with both Egypt and Ghana competing in it. The former won the tournament three years running from 2006 to 2010 but have missed the last three due to political reasons.

The tournament is much richer when they are here and the Pharaohs have plenty of young quality alongside experience in this squad.

Former Chelsea player Mohamed Salah is their key tormentor with Ramadan Sobhi and Mahmoud Hassan all chipping in up field. At the back then Hull’s Ahmed Elmohamady has the knowhow, as does veteran goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary. Anchoring the midfield will be Mohamed Eleny doing a similar job to the one he does for Arsenal

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The Pharaohs topped their qualification group having seen off Nigeria and they are two from two in World Cup qualifying having beaten Ghana and Congo.

Ghana will make it tricky for Egypt but Avram Grant’s men will have their work cut out reversing that form.

I can remember watching their World Cup qualifier against Uganda, which they drew 0-0 and looked rather unconvincing.

The runners-up two years ago after losing on penalties look rather blunt in attacking areas. Andre Ayew has returned from injury in recent weeks and he’ll be the talisman with hopes lying at his feet in the goalscoring department.

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Christian Atsu was named player of the tournament in 2015 and if he can recapture that form then he’ll give defenders plenty to think about but they do look rather light in attacking areas.

Group A looks tough to call. Hosts Gabon were quarter-finalists when they co-hosted the tournament five years ago and with the firepower of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang up front then if he gets service he could carry them out of this group.

Off the pitch there has been political tension following a recent election but if coach Jose Luis Camacho can unite the nation to get behind his side then the likes of Juventus’ Mario Lemina and Sunderland’s Didier N’Dong could shine.

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I can see them topping this group. Cameroon aren’t what they once were and haven’t won it in 2002 when they were back to back winners.

After players like Joel Matip and Eric Choupo-Moting have turned down the call-up’s there squad looks bare on experience. They do look reliant on Besiktas forward Vincent Aboubakar while Clinton N’Jie will look to show Spurs fans what he has to offer.

Burkina Faso could sneak into second place under the stewardship of Paulo Duarte once more. They narrowly missed out on the previous World Cup and if 2013 Player of the Tournament Jonathan Pitroipa can show what he’s capable of alongside youngster Bertrand Traore these could be a surprise package in Group A.

The experience of Charles Kabore will be a crucial factor to their chances. His 74 caps sees him as the most capped in this squad and his presence in midfield will offer some resilience.

The two teams I’m tipping are 33/1 to be the two finalists with Paddy Power and Betfair, if you have full confidence!


Senegal (11/2 e-w – Various)

Egypt (10/1 e-w – SkyBet)

Top Scorer

Gabon and Borussia Dortmund forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been well touted to claim the Golden Boot as he did back in 2012 when Gabon last hosted the tournament.

That year he was one of seven players to score three goals and share the crown. He’ll be looking at the Guinea-Bissau game that opens the tournament as the one to get off to a good start. We all know he has quality and that is proven in his record, especially this season at Dortmund where he has 16 goals in 15 games.

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The fact that Gabon could face either Algeria or Senegal in a quarter-final suggests that Aubameyang might have to get his goals in the group phase and for me it isn’t worth taking him at the prices.

With me fancying Egypt to do well in the competition then Mohamed Salah is a good price.

He was joint third top scorer in qualifying with five goals and with him the likely penalty taker then the Roma man can make a mark in this market.

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The 24 year old has 29 goals in 49 appearances for his national team and he’s already netted eight times in Serie A this season.

Not only do I think he’ll be a good play in this market but he could be in line for Player of the Tournament if the Pharaohs do end up going all the way.

The top scorer in qualifying for this tournament was Algeria’s El Arabi Hillel Soudani with seven goals. His partnership with fellow attackers Islam Slimani and Riyad Mahrez will be crucial, but he was plagued by injury before Christmas.

Given that record in qualifying the man that now plies his trade in Croatia for Dinamo Zagreb is as big as 33/1 with Bet365. If he can continue his record of ten in 17 for his club side then that could be a big price.

Slimani chipped in with four during qualifying and it’ll be interesting to see how they utilise the Leicester forward with him having a few injuries earlier in the season.

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With 23 goals in 46 games for his nation the 28 year old is on the shortlist in this market at 12/1 best price with Paddy Power.

Jonathan Kodjia will have the weight of expectation on his shoulders for the Ivory Coast but the 27 year old has made a superb start to his life on the international stage.

He only made his debut back in May and he’s netted three in six. With him leading the line for the Elephants feeding off the likes of Zaha and Gradel then the Aston Villa forward has to be on the list.

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With Senegal being tipped by myself you have to consider either Saido Mane at 16/1 with Stan James or their top scorer in qualifying Mame Diouf at 33/1 with Bet365.

Diouf will be in his more natural position of centre forward and not right wing back as he’s been playing for Stoke of late. Not the most natural in front of goal but is capable of getting at least three with the players feeding him, especially with crosses into the box.

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Mane is the crucial player to Senegal. If he fires then so will the team. He’s usually the one getting the assists for the national side, so keep that in mind. This pair will share penalty taking duty.

In the previous tournament three goals was enough to see five players share the crown. Two of them were Dieurmerci Mbokani and Andre Ayew.

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The former is 66/1 with Bet365 with the later at 25/1 with Betfred. With DR Congo likely to get out of their group then Mbokani is going to have to perform in doing so. Ayew has only recently returned to fitness, so may still be lacking that killer instinct and his record of 12 goals in 71 appearances wouldn’t make him off too much interest.

If you go each-way then the bookies are offering three places at quarter the odds.


Mohamed Salah (14/1 e-w – BetVictor/Betway)

Jonathan Kodjia (10/1 e-w – Various)

Other Group Markets

Group A To Qualify – Burkina Faso (6/4 – William Hill)

Group B Dual Forecast – Algeria/ Senegal – EVS (SkyBet)

Group C To Qualify – DR Congo – 11/10

Group D Dual Forecast – Egypt/Ghana – 13/8 (SkyBet)


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