Jake (@JAKEOZZ) is +8.7pts in profit across AFCON 2023 so far
1.5pts Zambia to beat Tanzania at 6/5 (10bet)
I was quite high on Zambia's chances of advancing from group F at this AFCON tournament, which is still a possibility, but boy were they fortunate to escape with a point against DR Congo.
Avram Grant's side were severely outplayed, losing the shot count 25-3 and the xG battle 2.54-0.30, with the Zambians scoring from a freakish long range goal after the DR Congo keeper came flying out of his box leaving an open net for a swift finish from a throw-in.
They are going to have to improve on that display if they are to finish in the top two, but this looks a good opportunity to do just that, with Tanzania the second lowest-ranked team in the competition and fresh off a 3-0 hammering against Morocco.
Tanzania could barely get near Morocco's goal in that one, taking just two very long range shots on their way to racking up 0.03 xG across the 90 minutes, while the pre-tournament favourites had no issues breaking them down (2.53), even before a late red card for the underdogs.
Over their last 40 internationals, Tanzania have a W12 D10 L18 record, and while that looks ok on the face of it, context is required. They haven't beaten any team in that time that is ranked higher than 90th in the FIFA World Rankings - which is 71% of this AFCON field - picking up wins against the likes of Niger (129th), Madagascar (109th), Malawi (123rd) and Somalia (198th).
Zambia sit 84th in the rankings, but despite their poor display in their opener, are an improving nation, shown by the fact that they topped their AFCON qualifying group ahead of Ivory Coast and the fact they have found consistency in results and scoring, winning eight and netting in 12 of their last 15 internationals.
That is enough for me to think the 6/5 available, and 23/20 generally, for ZAMBIA TO WIN here is too big to turn down.
These two sides are in the same World Cup qualifying group, and have both played Niger away, with Zambia going off at 8/13 and Tanzania at 13/10 - meaning the bookies thought Zambia had an 18% greater chance of winning in Niger than Tanzania - the odds against price for this head-to-head looks too big. I'd back this down to even money.
Thursday, January 18
Friday, January 19
Saturday, January 20
Sunday, January 21
This is a big game. Not only because it pits two of the tournament favourites against eachother, but because finishing runner-up in Group A could see a much tougher upcoming schedule than finishing top.
The group winners get to take on a third place team from one of group C, D or E - likely Guinea, Angola or Tunisia - whereas the runners-up in A play the runners-up in C, which will likely be either reigning champions Senegal or 2021 AFCON third place finishers Cameroon.
The incentive is there for both host nation Ivory Coast and Nigeria then to avoid a much tougher round of 16 clash, meaning we could see quite an open game, even more so as Nigeria failed to beat Equatorial Guinea in their opener.
If they had, a draw would have suited both, and top spot would've gone down to goal difference in the other two matches, but the Super Eagles' failings against the Equatoguineans means they have to win here to likely stand any chance of securing top spot.
Their performance in that opener was impressive despite the result. They created 3.52 xG, peppering their opponents and being unfortunate to not get three points, and the attacking firepower they possess should give them a great chance of breaking down Ivory Coast as they search for victory.
At the other end though, question marks remain, and Ivory Coast, who brushed Guinea aside in their opener, can take advantage of a lackluster defence.
Adding all of that together, seeing BOTH TEAMS TO SCORE available at 11/8 is hugely appealing between two sides who boast plenty of attacking firepower.
Arguably the most deadly player on the pitch is likely to be VICTOR OSIMHEN, and his price TO SCORE ANYTIME is simply too big to turn down in what I feel is likely to be higher scoring game than the market suggests.
There are some injury doubts around the Napoli forward, but I'm willing to take the chance he plays, and if he doesn't it'll be a void bet.
Osimhen has missed a large chunk of the season due to injury, but has scored seven times in 13 Serie A appearances, and looked his unplayable self in Nigeria's opener, registering a goal, six shots and 1.95 xG.
This Super Eagles team is built to supply their main man, and at 16/5, as short as 21/10 in places, he's worth chancing to double his tournament tally.
Both these nations caused huge shocks in their opening matches to leave group B wide open.
Cape Verde beat Ghana and Mozambique held Egypt, with the Pharaohs needing a last minute penalty to draw 2-2. Both deserve plenty of credit for their performances, but I think more stock can be put in CAPE VERDE's display, and their price TO WIN here and guarantee a spot in the knockout rounds appeals.
Ghana, priced as pre-tournament sixth favourites, were no match for the Blue Sharks, who racked up 2.99 xG, highlighting their attacking ability and meaning their win over one of Africa's biggest names was no fluke.
Mozambique, ranked 38 places higher than Friday's opponents in the FIFA World Rankings, scored twice from six shots, two on target, that equated to 0.80 xG. It wasn't a great attacking display, meaning I have more trust in Cape Verde.
The Mozambicans have still never won at AFCON (D3, L10), and could well be reeling from the devastating late equaliser they conceded, with coach Condé Chiquinho visibly disappointed after a frustrating finish to the game.
All in all, Cape Verde have shown more not only in their one game at AFCON, but over a long period to suggest they warrant being shorter than the 6/5 on offer, having generally made light work of minnows in the last year.
My pre-tournament expectations of Cameroon remain the same; they are to be opposed.
Their opening performance against Guinea was concerning, drawing 1-1 with the team ranked 34 places behind them in the FIFA World Rankings despite playing against 10-men for the entire second half.
In that 45, Cameroon mustered just nine shots equating to 0.44 xG, which doesn't bode well ahead of a game against the reigning champions, and neither does the fact that the xG totals were 0.26-0.25 in the first half when it was 11vs11.
Across their last 11 international matches, their only wins have come against Burundi (ranked 139th in the world) and Mauritius (177th), failing to beat the likes of Libya (120th), Namibia twice (115th) and Niger (129th). They are not the force they used to be.
Senegal appear to have maintained momentum from their AFCON success, helped by refreshing their squad with good young players to go along with the experienced stars, meaning they are in a good place to once again contend.
After comfortably beating Gambia in their opener, I am a little surprised to see an odds against price available for SENEGAL TO WIN here - with even money generally also value.
Aliou Cisse's side look defensively strong and still as potent in attack despite new faces and a new formation (3-4-3), and can wrap up Group C here by repeating the feat they managed in October last year, the last time these sides met (1-0), when Cameroon were arguably stronger with the likes of Bryan Mbuemo and Vincent Aboubakar available.
Some bookies are making Tunisia slight favourites for their clash with Mali, while most have it as a pick'em, but I think that's a massive mistake we can take advantage of.
Tunisia are one of the higher ranked teams at AFCON (28th in the FIFA rankings), but they were simply abysmal against Namibia in their opener, losing to the minnows (115th) who were priced at 9/1 to get the victory.
What's worst is that the result wasn't even unjust, it was fully deserved. The rank outsiders out shot (13-10) the illustrious Tunisians and won the xG battle comfortably (TUN 0.69 - 1.76 NAM), so while we should see some sort of a reaction, the fact they face the strongest side in the group next up is a concern.
I'll keep making this point, but North Africans do struggle south of the Sahara Desert, and so far at this tournament we have seen Egypt (priced at 9/20) need a late penalty to equalise against Mozambique, Algeria (1/2) held by Angola and Tunisia (2/5) beaten by Namibia. The only North African team to win their opener was Morocco and they played the second lowest ranked team at the tournament.
Of all those teams mentioned though, Tunisia's performance was the worst, so I'm happy to take MALI TO WIN DRAW NO BET here.
Mali were one of my picks to win AFCON, and while they were slow to start against South Africa, with Bafana Bafana missing a first half penalty, the Malians found their rhythm in the second half, dominating proceedings (2nd half xG: MAL 1.88 - 0.15 SA) to win comfortably.
They have now won nine of their last 11, scoring 24 times and conceding just six, so they really are a team peaking at the right time.
I'm happy to take the shorter price on Draw no Bet as opposed to straight win just given the low-scoring nature of AFCON in general, and Tunisia's low-scoring style that brings the draw into play.
Neither Algeria nor Burkina Faso were overly impressive in their group openers; the former were held by Angola (ranked 117th in the world) and the latter needed a stoppage time penalty to beat Mauritania (105th).
Both sides struggled to create chances but looked solid at the back, meaning we could be in for a tough watch on Saturday, especially given the kick-off time and weather forecast.
The pair meet in Bouaké at 2pm local time, where it will be 36 degrees. As mentioned in my pre-tournament preview, North African sides tend to struggle south of the Sahara desert due to climate, and that could prove the case once again for the 2019 champions Algeria.
Since lifting the trophy in Egypt, the Desert Warriors have played four AFCON games and won none, all four coming in sweltering heat south of the Sahara.
They are short priced favourites based on their quality individuals, but BURKINA FASO are worth getting on side in the DOUBLE CHANCE market at odds against.
The Burkinabè are quite happy to play defensively and frustrate their opponents, and this approach has worked wonders for them in recent editions of AFCON, reaching the semi-finals in three of their last four outings.
The conditions look to favour Burkina Faso, as does the state of play, with a draw likely enough to see them qualify and put them on the brink of winning the group. They are in form too, winning eight of their last 14 games against African nations, so chance them to hold Algeria at the very least.
Odds correct at 1210 GMT (19/01/24)
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