The Ivory Coast are top of the betting boards as they look to defend their African Cup of Nations title.
The action gets going in Gabon on Saturday and we will have daily betting previews on the blog covering all the action.
Outright Betting – click here to bet
Ivory Coast 7/2
20/1 and better the balance
Note prices correct at the time of writing but are subject to change.
The likely contenders
The Ivory Coast broke a drought stretching back to 1992 when they beat Ghana on penalties in the 2015 final. They battled through qualification in a 3-team group and at one point played out 3 successive 0-0 draws in 2016. They did beat Uganda 3-0 and Sweden 2-1 in friendlies in late 2016 and with an impressive looking squad they deserve their place at the top of the boards although personally I am looking to take them on. They are 9/20 to top their group.
Senegal look big runners with several players plying their trade in the top European leagues. They don’t have the best AFCON record of late though and didn’t get through the group stages in 2015. They are 13/10 favourites to win their group which should be competitive and includes Algeria and Tunisia as well as Zimbabwe.
Algeria coasted through qualification and will be looking to improve on their quarter-final exit to eventual winners Ivory Coast in 2015. They have some quality players in the squad and are priced at 15/10 to win their group which as mentioned above is a tough one.
Cameroon came through qualifying on the back of an excellent defence which only saw them concede in 1 of their 6 matches. They were runner-up in this tournament in 2008 but flopped badly in 2015 and have a number of key players are either injured or have opted not to play. They are in a group with hosts Gabon and are 12/10 to top it.
Gabon will be fired up in front of their home fans but they must overcome a poor record in this tournament including a group stage exit in 2015. Their last 3 international matches have all been draws, 3 of them scoreless. I can see them going deep but in my view are unlikely winners and perhaps the 14/10 they win their group is a better betting option.
Egypt won this event from 2006 to 2010 but amazingly have not qualified for the finals since pulling off that hatrick. They saw off Nigeria in qualification and are also going well in the bid for a place in World Cup 2018 and in my opinion they are in with a genuine shout here. They are in a tough group and share favouritism at 14/10 with Ghana.
The 2015 losing finalists Ghana have a proud AFCON pedigree and they have featured in the business end of this tournament 4 of the last 5 years but have not lofted the trophy since 1982. They have not been in great form of late and I think they may battle to exit a tough group including Egypt, Mali and Uganda.
The last team I will highlight is Morocco. They have been hit by injuries to some key players but remain a lively threat and may be over-priced at 4/1 to win their group which includes the Ivory Coast. A recent friendly defeat to Finland broke a 13-match unbeaten run and even without some of their star players they could be big runners.
Senegal to win at 5/1 – they need to come through a tough group and have the squad class and depth to win this.
Gabon to win Group A at 14/10 – home ground advantage and question marks over group favourites Cameroon
Morocco to win Group C at 4/1 – I think there is value in the price as feel Ivory Coast may be a bit overrated by the bookies.