2.5pts Ryan Mendes (Cape Verde) to commit 2+ fouls vs South Africa at 8/11 (Sky Bet)
1pt Ryan Mendes (Cape Verde) to be carded vs South Africa at 6/1 (bet365, Unibet)
This article will be updated daily throughout the quarter finals
Not the most glamourous of quarter finals. I don't think anyone expected either Cape Verde or South Africa to get here.
Bafana Bafana caused arguably the biggest upset at the tournament to get to this stage, beating the highest-ranked side (13th in FIFA rankings) and pre-tournament favourites (11/2) Morocco in the last round, though they were fortunate to do so.
Morocco racked up four Opta-defined big chances in the game, one of which was a penalty which Achraf Hakimi hit the crossbar with while the score was 1-0. South Africa were clinical on the day - two goals from five shots equating to 0.32 xG - and Morocco weren't. That is the variance that can occur in knockout football.
Cape Verde needed an 88th minute penalty to squeeze past Mauritania, with the round of 16 hardly their best display at the tournament so far, but one of these two will be in the semis. The bookies can't split the pair in the market, most going 17/10 apiece to win the game and 17/20 apiece to qualify.
There isn't much between them, and so I'm happy to avoid the traditional markets and search elsewhere.
One player has caught my eye, Cape Verde's RYAN MENDES.
He has impressed with his attacking output at AFCON, scoring two and assisting one in his four outings, but it's his fouling stats that stand out.
Mendes has committed nine fouls at a clip of 2.6 per 90 minutes, so backing him TO COMMIT 2+ FOULS appeals, even at a short-ish price of 8/11.
This bet has landed in three of his four AFCON games, only failing when he played just 64 minutes against Egypt where he registered just one foul, though it has to be mentioned that Cape Verde had already qualified top of the group, meaning the stakes weren't as high as the other three games.
Even at his Turkish club side Fatih Karagumruk, Mendes is among the fouls, registering 13 in his last seven club outings, covering the 2+ line in four of those. This bet should probably be shorter than 8/11.
Given the stakes of the game, and the likely tight nature of the contest, we could be in for a scrappy and niggly game that lends itself towards fouls and cards, and given the referee appointment, I'm also going to back MENDES TO BE CARDED as he's an obscene 6/1 to have his name taken.
For someone who has averaged 2.6 fouls per 90 at the tournament, and 2.10 fouls per 90 across his last 11 games for club and country, that is simply too large.
The referee here is Jean-Jacques Ndala Ngambo, who has so far reffed two games at AFCON, brandishing six yellows in Cape Verde's opener against Ghana and four yellows as Angola beat Burkina Faso - both group games.
This is a much bigger stage for him, with the stakes much higher, and given he was card-happy in the groups, they could be like confetti in the knockouts.
Friday, February 2
Saturday, February 3
1.5pts Nigeria to win and Under 3.5 Goals vs Angola at 23/20 (Coral)
1pt No first scorer in DR Congo vs Guinea at 5/1 (General)
1pt Mali to keep a clean sheet vs Ivory Coast at 2/1 (William Hill)
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