The 2019 Africa Cup of Nations is the 32nd edition of the tournament, the first to be held in June and July rather than January and February, and is the largest in the competition’s history.
There will be 24 teams lining up in Egypt when it all begins on 21st June, when in the past there have been 16 at most. With the teams split into six groups of four, the top two from each group plus the four best third placed teams will make it through to the round of 16. From there, it is straight knockout with four wins required to take the title.
Hosts Egypt are the most successful team in the history of the tournament, with seven wins, and were beaten finalists last time out in 2017. They were also the last host nation to win the competition, in 2006. With pedigree like that, plus having Mohamed Salah to call upon, it’s no wonder they are the 9/2 favourites with RedBet to lift the trophy.
The best football betting sites also think the Pharoahs will stroll their way through Group A. SportNation have them at just 2/5 to win their group, making them the shortest priced favourite to top any of the six groups. Assuming they do, they will play a third placed team in the first knockout round, and then a guaranteed group runner up in the quarter-finals should they get there.
Topping Group A will also ensure Egypt play all of their games through to the final at the 75,000 capacity Cairo International Stadium. The draw has been kind to them.
Even so, the Pharoahs are actually the seeds with the lowest FIFA ranking at present, and didn’t top their group in qualifying. They’re not even the highest ranked team in Group A, though as they rarely lose on home soil to fellow African teams, it would be surprising if they didn’t go deep into the tournament.
Bookmakers have Senegal as second favourites to lift the trophy, and they may prove to be the better value bet. The Lions of Teranga have surprisingly never won the competition, having only made it to the final once, in 2002.
They go into this year’s edition as the highest placed team in the FIFA rankings though, and are captained by Sadio Mané, who has been on fire for Liverpool this year.
He finished the Premier League season by sharing the Golden Boot with Salah and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (whose Gabon side failed to qualify here), but he was the top scorer in 2019 with 14 goals. If Mané can take that form to Egypt, 888Sport’s price of 5/1 for Senegal to go all the way looks very appealing.
But before you start thinking of backing Senegal in the football betting, consider the draw for the knockout phase of the competition. It looks likely Aliou Cissé’s side will top Group C. They are priced with Karamba at 20/31 to do that, making them the third shortest favourite to top a group.
Assuming they do so, they will be on course for a semi-final with Egypt on 14th July. Which is not to say they can’t beat them – they won the last meeting, in 2014, which was in Cairo – but the draw has ensured that if all goes to plan with seeding, the two shortest priced teams in the betting can’t meet in the final.
With that in mind, is there a nation in the other half of the draw we should keep an eye on? A glance at how it will play out reveals the winners of Groups B and F should meet in the quarter-finals.
Based on the odds, that should be Nigeria – who are 10/19 with MansionBet to top Group B – and Ghana, who are 5/6 with the same firm to win Group F. These countries are fourth and third favourites in the outright betting respectively, at 9/1 & 6/1 with Karamba.
So will this leave the path relatively clear for the winners of Group D? Like Egypt, they won’t have to face another group winner until the semi-finals. But based on the odds, it appears to be the toughest group to call.
It looks to be a shoot-out between Ivory Coast and Morocco. The former are 21/20 to top the group with Bethard, who have the latter priced at 6/5. With South Africa in there too, this looks to be the inevitable ‘group of death’.
The last six meetings of Ivory Coast and Morocco has seen two wins each and two draws, with under 2.5 goals every time. Whoever emerges from their Group D clash triumphant might be a decent value bet to lift the trophy. Grosvenor have Ivory Coast at 7/1 and Morocco 15/2.
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