The Africa Cup of Nations concludes in Egypt on Friday, as Senegal play Algeria in the final at 8pm.
Pre-tournament favourites, Senegal, were slightly fortunate to reach the final, after a huge goalkeeping error handed them a 1-0 extra time win against Tunisia. Senegal and Tunisia each missed a penalty in normal time before the Tunisian goalkeeper, Moez Hassen, parried the ball onto his own defender’s head in the 100th minute, gifting Senegal a win.
Surprisingly, Senegal have struggled offensively in the knock-out stages, scoring only three goals in three games, including the comedy of errors.
Liverpool’s Sadio Mane will be hoping to spark the underachieving Senegal attack into life – and with talents like Ismaila Sarr, Keita Balde and M’Baye Niang at their disposal, they are capable of scoring more goals. Senegal have relied heavily on their defence – conceding only one goal all tournament.
Ironically that was in the 1-0 loss to Algeria in the group stages.
Defensive talisman Kalidou Koulibaly is suspended and while he is a huge loss, Senegal still have a very strong starting 11.
Algeria advanced to the final in dramatic fashion – with Riyad Mahrez scoring a free-kick with virtually the last kick of their 2-1 semi-final win against Nigeria. Their defence has looked shaky since losing right-back, Youcef Atal, to a shoulder injury in their quarter-final match against the Ivory Coast. He had been arguably The Desert Foxes’ best player at the tournament, not only solidifying a good defence but excellently linking-up with Riyad Mahrez going forward.
Despite terrific defensive records during the competition, the finalists have each lost integral parts of their back-line and the attacking talent each side possess is sure to cause problems for their opposition. Senegal’s attacking threat may be too much for Algeria, and the pre-tournament favourites represent value to win the game in 90 minutes.
Selection: Senegal to win in 90 minutes @ 9/5.
Despite terrific defensive records during the competition, the finalists have each lost integral parts of their backline.
However, given the amount of attacking talent they possess, goals could be on the cards here, with both teams to score looking a good bet.
Selection: Both Teams to Score ‘Yes’ @ 5/4.
Sadio Mané has been a constant threat for Senegal throughout the tournament, scoring 33 per cent of their goals.
His running behind the lines could cause Algeria all sorts of problems and given how clinical he is when he gets a chance, Mané looks a stand-out bet in the first goalscorer market in Friday’s final.
Selection: Sadio Mané first goalscorer @ 9/2.
*Prices correct at publication