Algeria out to make history in group of death at Africa Cup of Nations
Algeria kick off their bid to win the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Equatorial Guinea against opposition they have never beaten in South Africa.
Coral make Christian Gourcuff’s Desert Foxes 11/8 favourites to win a ‘group of death’ that also contains Ghana and Senegal, and this without any doubt is the toughest pool at this year’s finals.
While history is against Algeria, it is firmly on the side of the Black Stars, so Avram Grant will be targeting victory over the Lions of Teranga.
Ghana v Senegal
Even when Senegal recorded their only win over Ghana back in 1973, they lost the subsequent penalty shoot-out after a 3-3 aggregate scoreline over a two-legged qualifier. The Black Stars are 2/1 chances to top Group C, and 11/10 favourites to put the Lions to the sword once more.
Grant’s midfield is more notable for its absences than inclusions, and that is the one potential chink in Ghanaian armour that Senegal (2/1 to win here) should seek to exploit. Expect a full-blooded duel between West Ham United’s Cheikhou Kouyate and Black Stars anchor Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu.
Considering Kevin-Prince Boateng, Michael Essien and Sulley Muntari, mainstays of Ghana’s engine room, are all sitting this tournament out, punters may want to consider a draw in this opening contest at 11/5.
In ex-Sunderland striker Asamoah Gyan, however, Grant has a top class player who delivers at AFCON. He also has a goal against Senegal, who look very weak in central defence, on his CV already. Back first-choice Black Stars frontman Gyan to grab the opener here at 9/2.
Marseille man Andre Ayew will continue his supporting role, and chipped in with a couple of goals behind leading marksman Gyan in qualifying. Odds of 7/4 say the older Ayew brother will net anytime.
Senegal’s problem is selecting from their cadre of fine forwards. There may need to be an element of pragmatism required here, but Premier League pair Papiss Cisse (15/8 in the anytime market) and Mame Biram Diouf (better at 9/4) should be playing some part in attack.
Algeria v South Africa
Despite never beating Bafana Bafana, now is the best chance Algeria will ever get, because of the largely domestic squad selected by South Africa. The Desert Foxes are odds-on at 5/6 to finally end their hoodoo and win here.
Unknown quantity South Africa are 3/1 to record what would be a shock victory over Gourcuff’s team, with a draw priced at 2/1. As Algeria have proven performers in Europe, like Valencia winger Sofiane Feghouli and Porto star Yacine Brahimi, their status as favourites is deserved.
A 2-0 Desert Foxes win looks really good value at 7/1, while punters that fancy Bafana Bafana to score, perhaps through Bournemouth striker Tokelo Rantie, in this contest should take 5/1 on them doing that but Algeria recording victory.