For the next month, lovers of the beautiful game are set to be thrown into an emotional maelstrom with the 32nd edition of the Africa Cup of Nations.
The biennial international men’s football tournament, organised by the Confederation of African Football (CAF), is scheduled to kick off on Friday night in Egypt. The north-east African nation was handpicked by the CAF Executive Committee to host the tournament after current title holders Cameroon were stripped of the hosting rights for failure to deliver the necessary infrastructure and security systems.
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The 2019 AFCON will be unique in every sense of the word, as it is the first time the competition will be held in June and July rather than the traditional January-February schedule. This was done to align the tournament with the European season, bringing an end to the longstanding rows between national team coaches and European clubs over the release of players in the middle of the season.
With the 2019 edition of the tournament also witnessing an increase in the participating nations from 16 to 24 teams, competition for the top prize in African football will be fiercer than ever before.
The action commences on Friday, so let’s look at the latest 2019 AFCON odds for some of the pre-tournament favourites.
Egypt AFCON 2019 odds
+400 at Bovada
Egypt, seven-time winners of the competition, will be making their 24th appearance in the finals. They hold the current record for most number of continental titles won, and it’s no surprised that they have been listed as favourites to lift the trophy on home soil.
The current team may not necessarily match up to the imperious nature of Hassan Shehata’s squad that lifted the trophy three successive times between 2006 and 2010, but the Pharaohs will be desperate to clinch the continental title in front of the adoring eyes of their home supporters.
Having lost to Cameroon in the final two years ago, the onus will be on Mohamed Salah to inspire his side to glory after his swashbuckling performances last season propelled Liverpool to their sixth European Cup title.
Senegal AFCON 2019 odds
+600 at Bovada
Senegal is notable for many things, such as being the first African country to advance to the quarterfinals of the FIFA World Cup back in 2002, but the nation’s desire to claim the AFCON title is of particular note. The Lions of Teranga are the only accomplished side not to have lifted the trophy, with their closest effort coming in 2002 when they lost to Cameroon on penalties.
Although they did not make it past the group stage in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the Senegalese have the strongest overall squad in the tournament with the likes of Kalidou Koulibaly of Napoli, Cheikhou Kouyaté of Crystal Palace, Barcelona’s Moussa Wagué and Champions League winner Sadio Mane.
Having qualified as Group A winners with one of the tournament’s most potent attacking lines, Senegal have all the pieces required to justify the pre-tournament chatter surrounding their credentials for the crown.
Ghana AFCON 2019 odds
+650 at Bovada
The Ghanaian men’s national football team will be bidding for their fifth continental title in this year’s AFCON. Although this is a methodical and well-groomed side that often reaches the latter stages of the competition, success has proven elusive over the last few decades.
The Black Stars last won the Africa Cup of Nations in 1982 when they beat tournament hosts Libya on penalties. They have lost five finals since, most recently to Ivory Coast in 2015.
The Group F winners are renowned for starting the tournament with a bang and will hope to end the jinx in Egypt, especially after failing to qualify for the FIFA World Cup in Russia last year.
Nigeria AFCON 2019 odds
+800 at Bovada
Ranked as one of Africa’s most consistent teams on both the continental and international stage, Nigeria will be chasing for their fourth AFCON title when they make the trip to Egypt.
Champions of the 2013 edition, in which they beat Burkina Faso by a solitary goal in the final to lift the trophy, the youthful Super Eagles are undefeated since their group-stage exit at the Russia 2018 World Cup.
Winners of Group E, Nigeria could become harder to beat as the tournament progresses – a quality that gives them a good fighting chance for the crown.
Ivory Coast AFCON 2019 odds
+1000 at Bovada
Ivory Coast may have one of the most star-studded sides in the tournament with the likes of Wilfried Zaha, Maxwel Cornet and breakout star Nicolas Pepe, but their AFCON 2019 outright odds would appear to suggest otherwise.
This has plenty to do with the fact that despite having household names like Laurent Pokou, Gaston Adjoukoua, Didier Drogba and Yaya Toure over the years, the West Africans have only managed to lift the trophy twice in 22 appearances.
Their failure to book a ticket to Russia last year could very well be used as a stepping stone to bolster their chances of winning Africa’s flagship sporting event.
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