After ten days of intense action in the group stages, we are finally entering the playoffs. Sixteen teams have made it phase two, while eight returned home. Can Cameroon defend the title? They are going to be involved in some derby match action against Nigeria. Let’s take a look who are the biggest favorites to win the African Cup of Nations 2019 and predict match winners.
Hosts are favorite #1, Benin the biggest underdog
Egypt is having a great time so far playing in front of the home crowd. Pharaohs have won every single match so far, kept their net intact and scored five goals. Judging by the odds, Salah and co are the biggest favorites to win the tournament priced at 4.33 odds. They are followed by Senegal at 5.00, Algeria & Morocco at 9.00 and Nigeria at 11.00. Interestingly, the reigning champions Cameroon are nowhere close to the top of this list. The biggest underdog going into playoffs are Benin, priced at 201.00 odds to win the whole event according to BettingSitesOnline.ca. The Action Starts on Friday
The first game of playoffs is scheduled for Friday night. Morocco is a huge favorite to continue the perfect run and beat Benin. Moroccans are only one out of three teams so far which had 100% win rate in the group stages. Many have seen this squad as a dark horse going into the tournament. They have a mix of very experienced players and young rising stars. Hakim Ziyech is Ajax’s player and many fans are expecting him to play the crucial role here. Morocco’s current goal difference is 3-0 (won all three encounters 1-0). Benin, on the other hand, has stood bravely in the group of death, yet to suffer a defeat in ACON 2019. All Benin’s games so far ended without a winner – goalless draws against Guinea-Bissau and Cameroon, 2-2 FT against Ghana. It wouldn’t be wise to underestimate them, but still, our prediction is Morocco to advance.
As for the other Friday clash, Uganda will lock horns with Senegal. We mentioned above that Senegal are favorite number two to win the tournament, but they will have to fix a couple of things. So far this squad managed to beat Tanzania 2-0 and Kenya 3-0 while losing to Algeria 0-1. Lions of Teranga were looking absolutely amazing during the preparations, having won six straight matches ahead of ACON 2019. Led by Liverpool’s super-star Sadio Mane, we do predict them to reach the final stages at least. Uganda was in Group A alongside with Egypt, Congo DR, and Zimbabwe, collecting the total of four points there. The only disastrous performance was against the hosts, while the other two were solid. Playoffs were Uganda’s goal, but that doesn’t mean they won’t push for more.
Nigeria Going Against Cameroon
No one really expected to see this clash so early in the tournament. Nigeria is warm favorites to eliminate the reigning champions Cameroon, but they will need to work on consistency to make it happen. The Super Eagles struggled to secure two narrow victories in the group stages against Burundi and Guinea, while the encounter against Madagascar turned into a true disappointment. They have lost to AFCON debutants and ended groups as 2nd. As for their opponents, The Indomitable Lions are still undefeated, but the fans were not happy with performances against Ghana and Benin. Cameroon has won five points in their respective group which was not enough for the 1st position. Nigeria should take advantage of champions’ poor form and secure a ticket to the quarter-finals.
Salah To Inspire The Squad Once Again
Even though Ahmed El Mohamady is the top goal scorer at the moment, Mohamed Salah has played a crucial role in Egypt’s squad so far. Liverpool’s star has come into this tournament just a couple of weeks after lifting the UEFA Champions League trophy and being one of the best players in the previous season. Egypt is big favorites in the upcoming clash against South Africa, but things might not go as smooth here as many fans would expect. South Africans have had an amazing period in the last 12 months, having lost only one out of ten encounters going into the tournament. They were a decent opponent to Ivory Coast and Morocco in the group stages as well, so this should be one narrow contest. The winner of the clash between Egypt and South Africa will play against a winner from Mali and Ivory Coast.
The Remaining Matches
In the remaining duels, Madagascar will play against Congo DR, Algeria will try to continue with their amazing run against Guinea, Mali takes on Ivory Coast, and finally, Ghana will play against Tunisia on Monday night. We should see plenty of amazing football action in the next couple of days!