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Business time in African Cup of Nations

Frank Monkhouse | 5 February 2017

We look at the final two matches

A hectic weekend of football is enhanced by the final two matches in this year’s African Cup of Nations, as Burkina Faso and Ghana battle it out for the bronze medal on Saturday, before a champion will be crowned when Egypt meet Cameroon the following evening.

As is often the case with this competition, we have not been short of an upset or two, and few would have predicted that hosts Gabon and defending champions Ivory Coast would both be eliminated at the group stage. The final four also caught a few off-guard.

Burkina Faso vs Ghana

The battle for third-place, and these matches are always a strange affair, certainly for punters. Both sets of players will be suffering the heartache of missing out on the final, and must now go onto the pitch and decide who is the third-best team. It can’t be an easy match to get up for.

Burkina Faso came that little bit closer to the big day than their opponents, with Ghana losing 2-0 in the semi-finals to Cameroon while The Stallions lost on penalties to Egypt. Paulo Duarte’s men were runners up in 2013, but aren’t expected to match that effort here, with Ghana priced as favourites.

Apart from that semis loss to Cameroon, the Black Stars have been involved in tight matches throughout this tournament, with no more than one goal the difference on four occasions. Add to that the fact that three Burkina Faso matches have ended 1-1, including vs Egypt last time, and the draw looks a worthwhile investment here.

Egypt vs Cameroon

The match that followers of this competition have been waiting for, and although it’s an unlikely final-two, we do have a cracking game on our hands.

In their 22 African Cup of Nations appearances, Egypt have been settled as winners no less than seven times, last beating Ghana to the prize in 2010. The Pharaohs needed to call on all of that experience last time to edge past Burkina Faso 4-3 on penalties, after a 1-1 finish, meaning their record in this year’s cup reads three wins and two draws. With each of those victories coming with a 1-0 score, it’s obvious they don’t like to make things easy on themselves.

The question punters must ask themselves is – have Egypt been riding their luck from the start and will be found out here, or have they been grinding out results and are destined to win another title? I’m with the latter.

Cameroon strolled to a 2-0 victory over Ghana in the last four, but that was only their second win so far, their other being a 2-1 over the minnows of Guinea-Bissau. The Indomitable Lions have drawn three times, with two of their last three starts ending 0-0. I expect Egypt to prove difficult to break down, and have them as narrow victors, with a 1-0 correct score looking worthy of our attention.

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