The Bookies’ Favourites
Of the teams who manufactured it to January’s match, Ivory Coastline and Ghana are all over again among the favourites, and nonetheless again if both equally gain their to start with stage groups the draw suggests that they will not meet until the closing.
Ivory Coastline are apparent favourites, and in accordance to FIFA the optimum rated group in the match. A team of properly-identified gamers who require no introduction to soccer lovers, they capable comfortably, beating the very rated Senegalese both dwelling and away. Even so, the attract has placed them in a group with Africa’s 2nd maximum rated workforce, Algeria. The winner of the match involving these two on 30th January should have a rather simple run by way of to the closing. The loser would in all probability have to get earlier either very last year’s champions Zambia or a strong Nigerian aspect, and substantially-fancied Ghana, to get to the final. So 30th January seems like a critical selecting match, but Team D is more challenging by the inclusion of Algeria’s neighbours Tunisia derby games are constantly hard to predict, and both of those are potent groups. On balance, because of the North African derby sport and Ivory Coast’s extensive practical experience, I tip them to win this team, but if Algeria can get a outcome on 30th January Ivory Coastline could be in trouble…
Ghana are second favourites, with odds of all-around 6/1. Whilst they ought to prevent Ivory Coastline right up until the final if they acquire their group, the draw has presented the Black Stars with mixed fortunes. On the one hand, they are in a team with outsiders DR Congo and Niger, so qualification from the group should really be easy. On the other hand, the other put in the team is taken by Mali, who finished 3rd last year, beating Ghana in the 3rd spot playoff. If Ghana are unsuccessful to acquire their team – and their fate is probable to be decided in the match in opposition to Mali on January 24th – they will in all probability facial area a quarter ultimate in opposition to hosts South Africa, and then a potential semi-closing in opposition to favourites Ivory Coast. Though continue to a solid group, a lot of of Ghana’s stars of a few decades ago are ageing, so for me they seem specified to qualify from their group, but I do not see them as match winners this time.
Most likely surprise 3rd favourites are Nigeria. Whilst the Super Eagles have a extensive record in international tournaments, they failed to qualify for this match previous year, and only experienced this time by beating Rwanda (who are ranked 124th in the environment!) 2- on combination, and then beating Liberia (ranked 98th). Prior to that, their aggressive document isn’t really also sizzling either – in 2012 they have misplaced to Egypt and Peru, overwhelmed Namibia (who are ranked 108) 1-, and drawn with Malawi (ranked 96). FIFA fee Nigeria as Africa’s 13th strongest facet, so I am a little shocked at the bookies rating them as 3rd favourites. Possibly it is since in Team C they confront last year’s shock champions Zambia, unfancied Burkina Faso and lowly Ethiopia, so it is good to assume them to qualify from the team stage. Beyond that, they would face Ivory Coast, Algeria or potentially Tunisia, all of whom would fancy their chances towards Nigeria. So for me, the bookies have bought this a single completely wrong I you should not extravagant the Tremendous Eagles to fly further than the quarter finals.
Fourth favourites are hosts South Africa. Their crew is barely littered with worldwide superstars, and as hosts they have experienced couple of aggressive matches in the construct-up to the tournament, just a string of friendlies. Most lately the Bafana Bafana played reigning champions Zambia, and arrived out 1- losers. On a a lot more good note, they of course have a massive residence benefit the South African crowds will be vibrant, passionate and noisy in their assist. They also find on their own in a person of the weaker teams. Together with South Africa (rated 76 in the earth by FIFA) in Group A are Morocco (75), Angola (83) and match newcomers Cape Verde (rated 51 after some remarkable final results in qualifying, but rated as full outsiders by the bookies). It’s a rough team to call, with Cape Verde staying these types of an unfamiliar power and the other three remaining so close in their rankings everything could occur. The property crowd could therefore be the determining element, and South Africa could scrape as a result of the group stage. Outside of that, they would possibly face possibly Ghana or Mali in the upcoming spherical, so personally I are unable to see how they justify their position as 4th favourites.
The Sturdy Second Tier
Last year’s champions Zambia are 5th favourites at 9/1, but then past 12 months you could have got 40/1 on them before the tournament! They are plainly a stronger crew than any one gave them credit for a yr in the past, but their effects given that have been blended a – attract with Angola, defeats to Sudan and Malawi, but victories more than Ghana, South Africa and Uganda. My impression is that previous 12 months was a one particular-off, and that the Copper Bullets have neither the star names nor the consistency to acquire the title all over again. They are drawn in Group C with Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Ethiopia, and are the highest ranked team in that group, according to FIFA. But qualification from the group will only outcome in a quarter remaining towards one particular of the 3 solid Team D groups, and despite the fact that they managed to triumph over Ivory Coast in final year’s last, I doubt they can regulate it twice, so my prediction is that they will get as a result of the team stage ahead of crashing out.
Assuming Zambia do qualify, their probable opponents in the upcoming round contain Ivory Coastline, Algeria and Tunisia. Tunisia, rated 46 in the planet and priced at 11/1, are seasoned campaigners, having competent for the finals each time due to the fact 1994 they gained the celebration in 2004. They might not have many star names to connect with on, but there appears to be a fantastic mix of youth and practical experience in their squad, and the latest results have mostly been positive. Ivory Coastline will be very clear favourites to qualify top of Team D, and 2nd put is most likely to go to the winner of the match concerning Tunisia and Algeria on 22nd January qualifying in 2nd place would leave Tunisia with the likelihood of struggling with reigning champions Zambia or Nigeria in the following spherical, which while rough would be much from impossible. So the important aspect for Tunisia’s destiny is the match towards Algeria…
As Africa’s 2nd maximum ranked team, Algeria have been dealt a cruel blow by currently being put in the identical team as Ivory Coastline and Tunisia. When compared to Ivory Coastline, they have fewer “star names”, with most of their group actively playing their club football at residence. Even so, they have some knowledge, with the regular age of the group becoming mid-twenties. To start with matches in significant tournaments can be nervous affairs, and Algeria’s is against their neighbours Tunisia on 22nd January. Algeria have in the previous been superb in some “large tension matches”, and absolutely lost the plot in some others, so it will be appealing to see how they cope with their opening recreation. It can be a tricky attract for Algeria, but not an difficult a single, so will not create them off just simply because they’ve finished up in the identical group as Ivory Coast. The bookies level them at about 11/1 (just the very same as Tunisia, so the bookies certainly see it as a close contact amongst these two sides), and if they get off to a solid start out individuals odds will shorten promptly. They have the probable to beat any person – the question is whether or not they have the nerve to do it.
In a similar circumstance, Africa’s third rated crew Mali have been drawn in the identical team as fourth rated (and next favourites) Ghana. So again, significantly is dependent on the meeting in between the two on January 24th. Mali have the capability to gain this activity on a good working day – they conquer Ghana in very last year’s 3rd place playoff, and have not too long ago overwhelmed Algeria in a Earth Cup Qualifier, so they are a strong workforce who concede number of goals in open enjoy. I would again them to beat the other two teams in Team B – Niger and the Democratic Republic of Congo – without far too significantly problems, and so qualify from their team no matter of their outcome versus Ghana. Their possible quarter closing opponents would be either Morocco or South Africa, and although the latter have a massive household help advantage, both equally are ranked very well under Mali, so personally I consider 12/1 (their existing cost) are interesting odds for this kind of a strong crew with a favourable draw.
Morocco – at this time rated by the bookies’ at 16/1 – are positioned in Team A with South Africa, Angola and Cape Verde. Rated 72nd in the Entire world in accordance to FIFA, their past record in this match has been considerably “hit or miss out on” – they gained the party in 1976, came next in 2004 and 3rd 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 amazing results in the past 18 months (against the likes of Iraq and Ivory Coast), and they have gamers with expertise and experience. Much will count on how a lot South Africa’s house aid can influence occasions, and the match amongst Morocco and Angola could perfectly be decisive the winner is most likely to qualify from the team phase, but with the prospect of dealing with either Ghana or Mali in the following round, I suspect we won’t be looking at a Moroccan team in the remaining.
The “May well Get Blessed” Mid-Tier
Angola have qualified for the final four event finals, although they have hardly ever received over and above the quarter finals. They come across them selves in Team A (the most difficult group to forecast), which contains South Africa (FIFA ranked 84), Angola (79), Morocco (72) and Cape Verde (63). South Africa have property advantage. Cape Verde are the greatest ranked crew but have never ever prior to experienced for the finals, so this is new territory for them. My revenue would be on South Africa and Morocco qualifying from the team, and the bookies seem to agree, but everything is feasible in African football, and this group could throw up some surprises I wouldn’t guess towards Angola (or even Cape Verde for that make a difference) scraping through.
Burkina Faso – ranked 89 in the earth by FIFA and viewed by the bookies as relative outsiders at 33/1 – are in Group C. The most very likely qualifiers from this group are Zambia and Nigeria, but Burkina Faso are no mugs. Only two times considering that 1996 have they failed to qualify, so they have experience. It is really reasonable to count on them to get a get against Ethiopia, so if they can earn a draw against a person of the two a lot more fancied teams, they may perhaps get via, but it is unlikely, which is reflected in their odds.
Togo are in Team D. With a a lot more favourable attract they may have fancied their chances of getting to the quarter finals, but they facial area Ivory Coastline, Tunisia and Algeria, all of whom are opportunity group – if not tournament – winners. So unfortunately I can not see Togo receiving beyond the team stage. The bookies price them at 40/1, which with a first rate draw would be very good odds. With the draw Togo got, I might say 40/1 is becoming variety!
Cape Verde could be this year’s shock package deal. They undoubtedly astonished quite a few by qualifying, and have gradually crept up FIFA’s rankings to now sit at quantity 63. A short while ago they have recorded some amazing results, knocking out Cameroon to qualify, and only getting rid of 1- in a current pleasant in opposition to Ghana. They come across themselves in Team A, which is the most difficult to predict, so it is far from impossible for Cape Verde – rated as outsiders at 50/1 – to all over again surprise every person and qualify from their team. Nevertheless, the odds are that they would then facial area Ghana or Mali in the subsequent round, both equally of whom have strong, professional groups. It is excellent to see Cape Verde qualifying for the match, but I can’t see them successful it.
The Democratic Republic of Congo, the third cheapest ranked qualifier (rated 99 in the entire world by FIFA and 60/1 by the bookies). They experienced a simple draw in qualifying, beating the Seychelles and Equatorial Guinea, neither of whom have at any time qualified for a big event finals. They uncover themselves in Team B, with hugely rated Ghana and Mali, and outsiders Niger. On paper this should be the least complicated team to predict, and Ghana and Mali will qualify, and Niger and DR Congo will be on early flights house.
Which provides us neatly to fellow-outsiders Niger, ranked 107 in the planet and 100/1 by the bookies. In their favour, they did qualify for very last year’s finals, although they crashed out in the 1st spherical, so they do have some knowledge at minimum. In qualification Niger knocked out Guinea who are rated considerably better than them selves, but I won’t be able to see them having a final result against either Ghana or Mali, and thus can not see them obtaining past the group phase all over again.
And lastly Ethiopia, producing their first appearance at the finals because 1982. The Ethiopians struggled through the qualification approach, winning each their ties on the absent targets rule. They are positioned in Team C with Zambia, Nigeria and Burkina Faso, all of whom have more practical experience. Owning reported that, I will not see any individual from Group C as tournament winners, so just about anything could occur, but I assume the bookies have bought it about appropriate with Ethiopia, score them as comprehensive outsiders at 200/1. Wonderful to see them back again, but I dread it will be a traveling visit!
So there you have it. Sixteen groups, 30 two matches, and only just one eventual winner. Most of the income is heading on Ivory Coast, Ghana and South Africa, but will not be surprised if an outsider – Mali or Algeria – tends to make it by way of to the semi-finals at least. But the a single certainty in African soccer is that it will normally surprise you!