AFCON 2019 Odds
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Who are the AFCON 2019 favourites?
This is perhaps the strongest AFCON lineup we have seen, with many sides featuring star players at the very top of the European game. This should make for a wide open competition with the top eight sides in particular capable of beating one another on their day.
Hosts Egypt boast perhaps the tournament’s best player in Mohamed Salah. There is an issue with how dependent the side can be on their talisman, however.
The Liverpool attacker has scored at an impressive rate of 0.62 goals per match for his national side, however his 39 goals almost match the totals of the rest of the squad combined (42 international goals). They will need him fit and firing to make the most of their home advantage.
Senegal possess arguably the strongest overall squad with Kalidou Koulibaly anchoring a solid backline and Champions League winner Sadio Mane headlining what is, alongside the Ivory Coast, the tournament’s most threatening attack.
AFCON 2019 team-by-team preview
The Ivory Coast are one team that potentially have a stronger side than the odds reflect. An attack featuring Nicolas Pepe, Wilfired Zaha, and Maxwel Cornet should be too much for Namibia and South Africa in the group stage.
However, the team may struggle defensively against the continent’s better sides. Eric Baily’s absence through injury leaves Serge Aurier to lead a backline inexperienced at the top level.
The Ivory Coast’s group D challengers Morocco are another side who can contest for the trophy. Youssef En-Nesyri has shown good progress this year and will have the impressive Hakim Ziyech to create for him. Coach Herve Renard has two AFCON wins already, most impressively with Zambia in 2012, so certainly has some pedigree in this competition.
Neighbouring Algeria also possess genuine quality in the form of Riyad Mahrez and a solid overall squad.
Nigeria are another strong side and are undefeated since the 2018 World Cup. They are always a threat in this competition and, with a youthful but talented squad, this year’s tournament should be no different.
Ignoring home advantage Senegal are the pick of the sides but much will depend upon how effective Salah can be for the hosts. If a team can neutralize him in the knockout stages then the favourites will be in trouble.
In contrast it is difficult to see many teams capable of doing this to Senegal’s multifaceted attack.
AFCON Outsiders to watch
Surprisingly it is Guinea who can boast what could be the tournaments best midfield pairing. Amadou Diawara, and, especially, Naby Keita, are high-class performers who can get the most from the dangerous Francois Kamano on the break. Keita in particular is crucial to the team, so how he recovers from his injury problems ahead of the tournament will be pivotal to their success.
A kind group draw, with minnows Madagascar and Burundi, could mean the Liverpool midfielder’s unique talents are not needed until the knockout stages, so he could be available for their pivotal matches.
It is difficult to see many of the other true longshots challenging such a strong selection of big sides. Angola are one of the few who could manage, with several solid Europe-based players in their lineup.
A strong defence made up of players from the like of Girona, Lazio, and Sporting Lisbon can provide a base for new addition Wilson Eduardo to shine.
The 28 year-old was highly thought of as a youth player and brings some attacking nous to an otherwise solid squad. He scored on debut in the side’s 1-0 win over Botswana, hinting at a strategy that may be successful for the underdogs.
The Angola +0.75 handicap can be backed at 1.900* on the +0.75 handicap for their opening game against Tunisia. They are capable of causing a shock in that fixture to start their tournament off well.
Making Africa Cup of Nations predictions: Mismatched teams
This AFCON tournament is the first to feature the expanded 24 team format. Three debutants (Mauritania, Burundi and Madagascar) have qualified, alongside six teams who have never progressed beyond the group stage.
There are some generally fairly poor-quality teams in the competition which could see some higher-scoring wins in what has usually been a low-scoring tournament in recent years. The 2017 edition featured just 2.06 goals per match, the lowest in the past five tournaments. This will be expected to increase this time around.
AFCON goals per game
Given the tournament format, with the four best third-place teams qualifying alongside the group winners and runners-up, the strongest sides shouldn’t be too stretched until the knockout stages arrive. Expect the draw to play a part in which of the outsiders can progress, and bear in mind the implications of group standings ahead of the final group stage fixtures.