Africa Cup of Nations tips: Paddy’s complete pre-tournament betting preview

Our tipster James Walters is on the hunt for some value picks.

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*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change.

The Africa Cup of Nations finally kicks off on Sunday – a year after originally scheduled. Covid resulted in the lengthy delay to proceedings, which sees some of the world’s top talent head to hosts Cameroon. Algeria are defending champions having won the previous edition of this tournament back in 2019 and they’ll be confident of defending their crown this year with a handy-looking squad captained by Manchester City’s Riyad Mahrez.

We’ve looked through Paddy’s markets for AFCON 2021 and found some value picks.

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Outright Winner:

Senegal

Algeria beat Senegal 1-0 to win the competition back in 2019 but it’s worth backing them to go one further this year.

Senegal are the pre-tournament favourites and with good reason. The spine of their team is rock-solid, with Chelsea’s Edouard Mendy in goal and captain Kalidou Koulibaly marshalling the defence, Idrissa Gana Gueye and Cheikhou Kouyate breaking up play in midfield and Liverpool superstar Sadio Mane the main attacking threat.

Senegal also have Watford’s Ismaila Sarr in their ranks, however, it’s unclear how fit the winger is. Algeria look to be Senegal’s biggest threat, with City’s Mahrez the focal point of their side. A special mention also has to go to Egypt, who have half a chance simply because they have the best player in the world right now, Mohamed Salah.

9/2
Senegal Winner

Ivory Coast

While Senegal and Algeria are at the top of the betting, Ivory Coast could pose a strong challenge. They last won the competition in 2015, and may not boast superstar talents like Didier Drogba and Yaya Toure anymore, but their current squad is filled with current and former Premier League stars. Eric Bailly and Willy Boly will likely start in the centre of defence, while former Tottenham defender Serge Aurier will be at right-back.

AC Milan’s Franck Kessie and Jean Michael Seri of Fulham will be in the middle of midfield and Nicolas Pepe, Wilfried Zaha and Maxwel Cornet will be hoping to start in attacking positions with Ajax’s Sebastien Haller leading the line. The former West Ham man has netted 22 times in all competitions this season, including scoring in his first six Champions League appearances.

7/1
Ivory Coast Winner

Top Goalscorer:

Riyad Mahrez

Riyad Mahrez is arguably the most logical pick for the Top Goalscorer award: He shoots on sight, he’ll be on penalties and free kicks, and Algeria will likely go far in the competition, meaning he’ll have more chances to score than others. Mahrez netted three times in the competition in 2019 and was joint-second in the race for the Golden Boot.

50/1
Riyad Mahrez (Algeria) Top Goalscorer

Mohamed Salah

However, can we really rule out Mohamed Salah? The 29-year-old has netted 23 goals in 26 appearances in the Premier League and Champions League this season. Salah is currently six goals ahead of the chasing pack in the Premier League top scorer race and he’ll likely be at the top when he returns to Liverpool. Like Mahrez, Salah will be on penalties, which is key when backing a top goalscorer.

16/1
Mohamed Salah (Egypt) Top Goalscorer

The aforementioned Haller and Salah’s Liverpool team-mate Sadio Mane could also come into contention, but the goals would look more likely to be spread around in their sides than either Algeria or Egypt’s.

To Reach The Final:

Algeria

Algeria will be confident of retaining their crown and at the prices backing them to just reach the final looks a fair value bet. Djamel Belmadi’s men are in fine form and they’re currently on a 33-match unbeaten run. Their last defeat came in October 2018 and they can beat Euro 2020 champions Italy’s 37-game streak at AFCON this year.

Winner and Top Goalscorer Double:

Senegal and Riyad Mahrez

Senegal have a great chance of winning this year’s tournament, however, there’s no guarantee Sadio Mane will win the Golden Boot to go with it. Senegal to Win the Tournament and Riyad Mahrez to be Top Goalscorer is a smarter move at a better price. As mentioned above, Mahrez is Algeria’s main threat and they will likely go far in the tournament to give him plenty of chances to score.

enegal beating Algeria in the final with Mahrez scoring a brace would be ideal for this bet…

Africa Cup of Nations betting tips

Outright Winner: Senegal or Ivory Coast
Top Goalscorer: Mohamed Salah or Riyad Mahrez
To Reach The Final: Algeria
Winner and Top Goalscorer Double: Senegal and Riyad Mahrez

*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change.

Africa Cup of Nations tips

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