The Bookies’ Favourites
Of the groups who made it to January’s event, Ivory Coast and Ghana are all over again amid the favourites, and yet again if equally acquire their to start with phase groups the draw signifies that they would not satisfy until eventually the closing.
Ivory Coast are obvious favourites, and in accordance to FIFA the greatest rated crew in the event. A group of nicely-known players who require no introduction to soccer supporters, they experienced easily, beating the highly rated Senegalese both equally dwelling and away. Nonetheless, the draw has placed them in a group with Africa’s second optimum rated team, Algeria. The winner of the match concerning these two on 30th January should have a somewhat straightforward operate by means of to the closing. The loser would in all probability have to get past both very last year’s champions Zambia or a robust Nigerian aspect, and substantially-fancied Ghana, to get to the last. So 30th January looks like a crucial deciding match, but Team D is further complicated by the inclusion of Algeria’s neighbours Tunisia derby online games are often tricky to forecast, and each are solid teams. On stability, mainly because of the North African derby sport and Ivory Coast’s vast working experience, I suggestion them to acquire this group, but if Algeria can get a result on 30th January Ivory Coastline could be in trouble…
Ghana are next favourites, with odds of about 6/1. Despite the fact that they really should stay clear of Ivory Coast until eventually the final if they get their group, the draw has offered the Black Stars with combined fortunes. On the a single hand, they are in a team with outsiders DR Congo and Niger, so qualification from the group need to be easy. On the other hand, the other place in the group is taken by Mali, who completed 3rd final yr, beating Ghana in the third position playoff. If Ghana fail to earn their team – and their destiny is very likely to be made the decision in the match from Mali on January 24th – they will possibly experience a quarter closing versus hosts South Africa, and then a likely semi-closing towards favourites Ivory Coastline. Even though nevertheless a powerful crew, quite a few of Ghana’s stars of a several decades back are ageing, so for me they search particular to qualify from their group, but I you should not see them as event winners this time.
Potentially surprise 3rd favourites are Nigeria. Despite the fact that the Tremendous Eagles have a prolonged historical past in international tournaments, they failed to qualify for this event very last calendar year, and only competent this time by beating Rwanda (who are ranked 124th in the globe!) 2- on aggregate, and then beating Liberia (rated 98th). Prior to that, their aggressive file is not as well very hot both – in 2012 they have lost to Egypt and Peru, beaten Namibia (who are rated 108) 1-, and drawn with Malawi (ranked 96). FIFA charge Nigeria as Africa’s 13th strongest facet, so I am a minor surprised at the bookies ranking them as 3rd favourites. Potentially it is for the reason that in Team C they face previous year’s surprise champions Zambia, unfancied Burkina Faso and lowly Ethiopia, so it is fair to expect them to qualify from the team stage. Over and above that, they would experience Ivory Coastline, Algeria or probably Tunisia, all of whom would extravagant their chances from Nigeria. So for me, the bookies have got this one particular erroneous I you should not extravagant the Tremendous Eagles to fly over and above the quarter finals.
Fourth favourites are hosts South Africa. Their crew is hardly littered with intercontinental superstars, and as hosts they have had couple competitive matches in the make-up to the match, just a string of friendlies. Most recently the Bafana Bafana played reigning champions Zambia, and came out 1- losers. On a a lot more optimistic note, they of training course have a big household benefit the South African crowds will be vibrant, passionate and noisy in their aid. They also uncover themselves in one particular of the weaker teams. Along with South Africa (ranked 76 in the environment by FIFA) in Team A are Morocco (75), Angola (83) and event newcomers Cape Verde (rated 51 following some outstanding final results in qualifying, but rated as entire outsiders by the bookies). It really is a rough team to contact, with Cape Verde being this sort of an mysterious power and the other 3 being so near in their rankings nearly anything could come about. The household group could therefore be the choosing element, and South Africa may possibly scrape by means of the team phase. Over and above that, they would almost certainly encounter both Ghana or Mali in the upcoming round, so personally I are unable to see how they justify their status as 4th favourites.
The Solid Next Tier
Very last year’s champions Zambia are 5th favourites at 9/1, but then final calendar year you could have received 40/1 on them just before the event! They are plainly a more powerful crew than anybody gave them credit for a 12 months back, but their results considering that have been mixed a – draw with Angola, defeats to Sudan and Malawi, but victories about Ghana, South Africa and Uganda. My view is that previous calendar year was a a single-off, and that the Copper Bullets have neither the star names nor the consistency to gain the title once again. They are drawn in Group C with Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Ethiopia, and are the optimum rated crew in that group, in accordance to FIFA. But qualification from the team will only result in a quarter ultimate against a single of the a few powerful Team D groups, and despite the fact that they managed to defeat Ivory Coast in past year’s closing, I question they can manage it two times, so my prediction is that they’ll get by way of the group stage in advance of crashing out.
Assuming Zambia do qualify, their probable opponents in the next round contain Ivory Coast, Algeria and Tunisia. Tunisia, ranked 46 in the world and priced at 11/1, are seasoned campaigners, acquiring certified for the finals every time due to the fact 1994 they gained the function in 2004. They may possibly not have numerous star names to simply call on, but there appears to be to be a excellent blend of youth and working experience in their squad, and current benefits have largely been constructive. Ivory Coast will be obvious favourites to qualify best of Team D, and 2nd position is possible to go to the winner of the match among Tunisia and Algeria on 22nd January qualifying in 2nd area would depart Tunisia with the chance of dealing with reigning champions Zambia or Nigeria in the future spherical, which even though tough would be far from not possible. So the crucial aspect for Tunisia’s destiny is the match versus Algeria…
As Africa’s 2nd optimum rated workforce, Algeria have been dealt a cruel blow by getting set in the exact same team as Ivory Coast and Tunisia. As opposed to Ivory Coast, they have fewer “star names”, with most of their crew actively playing their club football at home. However, they have some working experience, with the typical age of the crew currently being mid-twenties. To start with matches in main tournaments can be anxious affairs, and Algeria’s is in opposition to their neighbours Tunisia on 22nd January. Algeria have in the previous been wonderful in some “significant stress matches”, and absolutely lost the plot in some others, so it will be attention-grabbing to see how they cope with their opening recreation. It’s a tough attract for Algeria, but not an not possible just one, so you should not publish them off just due to the fact they have ended up in the same group as Ivory Coast. The bookies price them at about 11/1 (exactly the similar as Tunisia, so the bookies clearly see it as a near connect with among these two sides), and if they get off to a powerful begin those people odds will shorten rapidly. They have the opportunity to defeat any person – the query is regardless of whether or not they have the nerve to do it.
In a comparable scenario, Africa’s 3rd ranked team Mali have been drawn in the exact same team as fourth rated (and 2nd favourites) Ghana. So all over again, a great deal is dependent on the meeting in between the two on January 24th. Mali have the skill to acquire this sport on a excellent day – they beat Ghana in last year’s 3rd place playoff, and have a short while ago beaten Algeria in a World Cup Qualifier, so they are a potent crew who concede several plans in open up perform. I would again them to defeat the other two groups in Group B – Niger and the Democratic Republic of Congo – without having too considerably issues, and so qualify from their team irrespective of their consequence versus Ghana. Their likely quarter last opponents would be both Morocco or South Africa, and though the latter have a massive residence assistance advantage, equally are ranked effectively beneath Mali, so personally I feel 12/1 (their current value) are exciting odds for these kinds of a solid crew with a favourable attract.
Morocco – presently rated by the bookies’ at 16/1 – are positioned in Team A with South Africa, Angola and Cape Verde. Ranked 72nd in the World according to FIFA, their past report in this event has been relatively “strike or overlook” – they won the occasion in 1976, arrived 2nd in 2004 and third in 1980, but far more frequently than not they possibly fall short to qualify, or go straight out in the initial spherical. They have chalked up some remarkable effects in the final 18 months (versus the likes of Iraq and Ivory Coast), and they have players with expertise and knowledge. Considerably will count on how much South Africa’s house assistance can influence situations, and the match among Morocco and Angola could very well be decisive the winner is possible to qualify from the team phase, but with the prospect of going through possibly Ghana or Mali in the up coming round, I suspect we is not going to be observing a Moroccan group in the closing.
The “May possibly Get Lucky” Mid-Tier
Angola have qualified for the previous 4 match finals, though they have under no circumstances obtained over and above the quarter finals. They uncover on their own in Group A (the toughest group to predict), which contains South Africa (FIFA rated 84), Angola (79), Morocco (72) and Cape Verde (63). South Africa have house benefit. Cape Verde are the highest ranked group but have never ever just before qualified for the finals, so this is new territory for them. My funds would be on South Africa and Morocco qualifying from the team, and the bookies appear to be to agree, but just about anything is attainable in African football, and this group could toss up some surprises I wouldn’t wager in opposition to Angola (or even Cape Verde for that issue) scraping as a result of.
Burkina Faso – ranked 89 in the globe by FIFA and viewed by the bookies as relative outsiders at 33/1 – are in Group C. The most likely qualifiers from this group are Zambia and Nigeria, but Burkina Faso are no mugs. Only 2 times considering that 1996 have they failed to qualify, so they have knowledge. It really is honest to be expecting them to get a gain versus Ethiopia, so if they can get paid a attract in opposition to a person of the two a lot more fancied teams, they may get by, but it is unlikely, which is reflected in their odds.
Togo are in Group D. With a much more favourable attract they could possibly have fancied their probabilities of acquiring to the quarter finals, but they experience Ivory Coastline, Tunisia and Algeria, all of whom are prospective team – if not event – winners. So regrettably I are unable to see Togo acquiring further than the team stage. The bookies rate them at 40/1, which with a respectable draw would be excellent odds. With the attract Togo acquired, I might say 40/1 is being form!
Cape Verde could be this year’s shock offer. They certainly astonished many by qualifying, and have progressively crept up FIFA’s rankings to now sit at amount 63. Not long ago they have recorded some remarkable outcomes, knocking out Cameroon to qualify, and only losing 1- in a modern welcoming from Ghana. They obtain by themselves in Group A, which is the most difficult to forecast, so it is significantly from extremely hard for Cape Verde – rated as outsiders at 50/1 – to all over again shock all people and qualify from their team. Nevertheless, the prospects are that they would then encounter Ghana or Mali in the future round, the two of whom have robust, skilled groups. It is terrific to see Cape Verde qualifying for the match, but I won’t be able to see them profitable it.
The Democratic Republic of Congo, the third lowest ranked qualifier (rated 99 in the planet by FIFA and 60/1 by the bookies). They experienced a simple attract in qualifying, beating the Seychelles and Equatorial Guinea, neither of whom have at any time competent for a significant event finals. They find by themselves in Team B, with very rated Ghana and Mali, and outsiders Niger. On paper this should be the least difficult group to forecast, and Ghana and Mali will qualify, and Niger and DR Congo will be on early flights property.
Which provides us neatly to fellow-outsiders Niger, ranked 107 in the globe and 100/1 by the bookies. In their favour, they did qualify for last year’s finals, even though they crashed out in the to start with round, so they do have some experience at least. In qualification Niger knocked out Guinea who are rated noticeably greater than on their own, but I can not see them obtaining a result from both Ghana or Mali, and hence cannot see them acquiring outside of the group phase once more.
And last but not least Ethiopia, earning their to start with overall look at the finals since 1982. The Ethiopians struggled by way of the qualification course of action, successful both equally their ties on the away objectives rule. They are placed in Team C with Zambia, Nigeria and Burkina Faso, all of whom have more experience. Owning claimed that, I you should not see any individual from Group C as match winners, so something could materialize, but I assume the bookies have obtained it about ideal with Ethiopia, ranking them as complete outsiders at 200/1. Great to see them again, but I concern it will be a traveling pay a visit to!
So there you have it. Sixteen groups, 30 two matches, and only one particular eventual winner. Most of the funds is likely on Ivory Coastline, Ghana and South Africa, but never be amazed if an outsider – Mali or Algeria – tends to make it by to the semi-finals at least. But the just one certainty in African soccer is that it will constantly shock you!