There’s no hiding place now – we’ve seen the adrenaline-fuelled efforts of teams, so now it’s time to see them settle down and achieve based solely on ability.
Given the calibre of match-up on Thursday in general, that may seem rather fanciful, but there lots to enjoy about the African Cup of Nations. This is in large part due to the lack of defensive awareness.
They are always feisty affairs and it’s terrific. Here’s a tasty treble to keep you ticking over.
Madagascar v Burundi: Both Teams to Score: No – 13/20
We warned you that you might be struggling for quality on this one. The only differentiator for most people here is that there’s no film called Burundi, and you’ve more chance of finding Madagascar on a map.
With that all being told, you could very easily pass off these two teams are overachieving, given that Burundi only went down to a late Ighalo goal against Nigeria in the opening round of fixtures and Madagascar led against a quietly-fancied Guinea outfit.
But, in reality, you’re clutching at straws. There isn’t a player in the Madagascar squad that’s played over 38 times for their country, nor is there a single player playing at a higher level than Maroco Ilaimaharitra, who’s in Charleroi’s squad.
Burundi can boast Saido Berahino, but can you actually boast about Saido Berahino? Back a lack of goals.
Algeria v Senegal: Algeria to win – 13/5
Oh look – two teams who won in the opening round of fixtures. This feels new.
Anyway, these sides on paper have very rich traditions. Usually, Algeria produce super players, only for them be picked up by the French, while Senegal have a history of supplying technically-sound players in the Premier League.
But, that’s all complete cliché and we won’t turn this into one of those pieces!
Algeria seemed the most composed of all teams in the opening fixtures and while Riyad Mahrez is playing at the highest level, perhaps nobody in world football is enjoying life as much as Baghdad Boundjah, who Leeds very nearly signed in the off-season and he’s too much for almost any AFCON defence to handle.
Senegal certainly have more high-profile players, as Gueye, Kouyate and Mané alone would cause problems, but they’re not as well-drilled and I smell an upset here.
Kenya v Tanzania: Tanzania +1 – 8/13
It’s just hard to look at this Kenya team, see where the goals are coming from and then be happy to back them at the prices.
There honestly might not be a bigger disparity in quality between one player and the rest, as there is between Victor Wanyama and his teammates.
He did that score that one absolute cracker at Anfield though. Tanzania boast no standout player, but their FA has slightly more infrastructure in place to progress football at local level, hence the infusion of youth, especially in midfield.
I can feel it, lads. This is Tanzania’s coming out party. Get on now, before it’s too late.
* All prices correct at time of posting.