Our outright preview of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations with best bets
Our outright preview of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations with best bets

African Cup of Nations 2021 tips: Outright betting preview and best bets

With the Africa Cup of Nations set to get under way, Jake Osgathorpe - who tipped the winners of the last edition at 12/1 - is on hand to select his best bets for this year's competition.

Football betting tips: AFCON 2021

4pts Algeria to win AFCON 2021 at 6/1 (BetVictor)

2.5pts Cameroon and Senegal to win their groups at 11/10 (General)

1.5pts Nigeria to win Group D at 11/8 (Paddy Power, Betfair)

1.5pt Mali to win Group F at 9/4 (Sky Bet)

1pt e.w Islam Slimani AFCON 2021 top scorer at 14/1 (BetVictor, Sky Bet 1/4 1,2,3,4)

1pt e.w Mali to win AFCON 2021 at 25/1 (General 1/2 1,2)

1pt e.w Ibrahima Kone ACFON 2021 top scorer at 40/1 (Betfred 1/4 1,2,3,4)

Sky Bet odds | Paddy Power | Betfair Sportsbook

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When does AFCON 2021 start?

Like all of the other major tournaments scheduled to take place in 2021, the Africa Cup of Nations was pushed back a year to 2022 and gets underway on Sunday 9th January.

Host nation Cameroon get the competition underway as they face Burkina Faso. The final will take place on Sunday 6th February.

How can I watch AFCON 2021?

Luckily for the UK audience, Sky Sports will be broadcasting all 52 of the tournament’s games from the opening group stage affair right up until the final.

The BBC, meanwhile, will broadcast 10 games including two of the quarter-finals, both semi-finals and the final.

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Which Premier League players are going to AFCON 2021?

With AFCON taking place across January and February, it means Premier League clubs will be without some of their stars for some crucial matches.

Here are the players confirmed to be going to AFCON:

  • Arsenal: Thomas Partey (Ghana), Mohamed Elneny (Egypt), Pierre Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon), Nicolas Pepe (Ivory Coast), Omar Rekik (Tunisia)
  • Aston Villa: Mahmoud Trezeguet (Egypt), Bertrand Traore (Burkina Faso)
  • Brentford: Julian Jeanvier (Guinea), Frank Onyeka (Nigeria), Tariqe Fosu-Henry (Ghana),
  • Brighton: Yves Bissouma (Mali)
  • Burnley: Maxwel Cornet (Ivory Coast)
  • Chelsea: Edouard Mendy (Senegal)
  • Crystal Palace: Cheikhou Kouyate (Senegal), Jeffrey Schlupp (Ghana), Jordan Ayew (Ghana), Wilfried Zaha (Ivory Coast)
  • Everton: Alex Iwobi (Nigeria)
  • Leeds: None
  • Leicester: Daniel Amartey (Ghana), Nampalys Mendy (Senegal), Wilfred Ndidi (Nigeria), Kelechi Iheanacho (Nigeria)
  • Liverpool: Mohamed Salah (Egypt), Naby Keita (Guinea), Sadio Mane (Senegal)
  • Manchester City: Riyad Mahrez (Algeria)
  • Manchester United: Eric Bailly (Ivory Coast), Amad Diallo (Ivory Coast), Hannibal Mejbri (Tunisia)
  • Newcastle: None
  • Norwich: None
  • Southampton: Moussa Djenepo (Mali)
  • Tottenham: None
  • Watford: William Troost-Ekong (Nigeria), Imran Louza (Morocco), Adam Masina (Morocco), Ismaila Sarr (Senegal)
  • West Ham: Said Benrahma (Algeria)
  • Wolves: Willy Boly (Ivory Coast), Romain Saiss (Morocco)

Who will win AFCON 2021?

There are plenty of teams who will fancy their chances of glory in this competition, and those at the head of the betting are the sides with a lot of European-based players.

Senegal are the pre-tournament favourites at a best price of 9/2. Led by Sadio Mane, they do boast an excellent XI filled with star quality from across Europe's top five leagues.

However, there are a few things putting me off backing the Lions of Teranga: the pressure they face as being the continent's overwhelming favourites; squad depth in forward areas an issue with key injuries heading into the tournament; a Covid-19 outbreak in the build-up to the competition.

They will likely be there or thereabouts but preference is for the defending champions ALGERIA TO WIN AFCON 2021.

The Desert Foxes enter this tournament with virtually the same starting line-up that helped them to win the 2019 title, with all of those key players still in the prime of their careers.

They have shown under coach Djamel Belmadi a tactical flexibility along with excellent team chemistry and proven star-power, so in my books they should be the pre-tournament favourites.

Algeria have been on a tear in recent qualifying campaigns too, scoring 19 in six AFCON qualifiers, before notching 25 in six World Cup qualifiers.

Algeria unbeaten run

But, while they boast an incredible attacking process, defensively they are sound too, and the fact that they enter this AFCON tournament with a chance of besting Italy's newly-set record of 37 international games unbeaten shows just how tough they are to beat.

They are the team that every other side should fear, especially as they have won back-to-back tournaments after claiming the FIFA Arab Cup in 2021.

AFCON 2021 Winners (odds via Sky Bet)

  • 7/2 - Senegal
  • 5/1 - Algeria
  • 7/1 - Egypt
  • 8/1 - Ivory Coast
  • 9/1 - Cameroon
  • 10/1 - Morocco, Nigeria
  • 14/1 - Ghana, Tunisia
  • 25/1 - Mali
  • 28/1 - Burkina Faso

Odds correct at 1330 (06/01/22)

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Who is an outsider to win AFCON 2021?

But, at a bigger price, chancing MALI TO WIN AFCON 2021 appeals.

At a general price of 25/1 there appears some juice in backing The Eagles. They have been in sensational form throughout AFCON and World Cup qualifying, winning nine of a combined 12 matches, losing once and scoring 21 goals while allowing just four.

On paper, their squad doesn't look the strongest, but nearly all of their players currently ply their trade in European leagues.

And while their individual quality is perhaps not as good as the likes of Nigeria or Senegal, they have the togetherness, continuity and consistency that makes them ripe for a deep run.

The majority of their squad have come through the international ranks together, with this Mali generation a successful one at youth level.

They were African champions at Under-17 level, silver medallists at the U17 World Cup and Under-20 World Cup bronze medallists between 2015 and 2017.

That crop is now at senior level and playing incredibly consistent football under a manager who has been in place since 2017. The continuity is there, and this generation of Malians could be the next in line as a national team project to have success in the youth ranks and into the senior levels like we have seen from Germany, Spain, France and England over the last decade.

They could be a surprise package at this tournament and are worth some each-way money.

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What are the best Group bets?

We will stick with Mali again in terms of group betting, as a price of 9/4 about MALI TO WIN GROUP F simply looks too big.

I've stated why I like this Mali team to do well at this competition, and they are in a group alongside fading force Tunisia, minnows Mauritania and debutants Gambia.

AFCON 2021 to win Group F (odds via Sky Bet)

  • 8/15 - Tunisia
  • 9/4 - Mali
  • 9/1 - Gambia
  • 14/1 - Mauritania

Odds correct at 1330 (06/01/22)

Tunisia made tough work of an easy World Cup qualifying group featuring Equatorial Guinea, Zambia and Mauritania, and there appears to be turmoil behind the scenes, with fans and players unhappy with manager Mondher Kebaier's style of play and team selection in recent months.

Mauritania shouldn't pose too much of a threat, but Gambia are a bit of an unknown. They won their AFCON qualifying group ahead of Gabon, DR Congo and Angola who are all ranked higher than them in FIFA's World Rankings, but were knocked out of the first stage of World Cup qualifying by Angola.

Group D sees Egypt and Nigeria go head-to-head, with Guinea-Bissau and Sudan expected to be vying for third place.

I have doubts about both the Pharoes and the Super Eagles in terms of winning the tournament, but it is likely that the winner of Group D will be decided in matchday one of AFCON, as the pair face off.

AFCON 2021 to win Group D (odds via Sky Bet)

  • 4/6 - Egypt
  • 5/4 - Nigeria
  • 18/1 - Guinea-Bissau
  • 33/1 - Sudan

Odds correct at 1330 (06/01/22)

Nigeria are the team, in my opinion, with the highest ceiling yet the lowest floor in this competition.

With players like Joe Aribo (Rangers), Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester), Frank Onyenka (Brentford), Taiwo Awoniyi (Union Berlin), Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal), Kalechi Iheanacho (Leicester) and Moses Simon (Nantes), they have a chance.

I'm happy to side with them to get it right in this tournament, mainly by backing NIGERIA TO WIN GROUP D.

Egypt need respecting, but the low-scoring, fine-margin way in which they get results is unlikely to be sustainable for much longer.

AFCON 2021 to win Group A (odds via Sky Bet)

  • 8/13 - Cameroon
  • 13/5 - Burkina Faso
  • 9/2 - Cape Verde
  • 22/1 - Ethiopia

Odds correct at 1330 (06/01/22)

A final group bet comes in the form of a double, pairing two group favourites to both come out on top.

In Group A, tournament hosts Cameroon should prove too strong for Burkina Faso, Ethiopia and Cape Verde.

The Indomitable Lions are now playing at a high-intensity while also boasting the ability to control the midfield and the tempo of the game. Priced at 4/6 generally to win their group, they should oblige.

In Group B, tournament favourites Senegal should progress with minimal fuss against Guinea, Zimbabwe and Malawi, none of whom are in the top 80 of FIFA's World Rankings.

Their starting XI is arguably the best in the competition, and they are highly likely to top their group, as shown by their general price of 2/9, most likely by winning all three of their games.

By combining CAMEROON AND SENEGAL TO WIN THEIR GROUPS we get a very backable 11/10 shot that has a great chance of landing.


Who will be top scorer at AFCON 2021?

When looking to back a top scorer in a major tournament, realistically you want them to play for a team that will go deep in the competition.

Mohamed Salah, while he may be the best player on the planet, is playing on an uninspiring Egypt team where he will be asked to do an awful lot, so 4/1 doesn't appeal.

Sadio Mane may be more of a provider for Senegal with Villarreal's Boulaye Dia likely to lead the line, so his price of 17/2 also doesn't seem like value either.

Sebastien Haller would appeal if he wasn't on an Ivory Coast team that just can't be trusted, so we turn our attentions elsewhere.

AFCON 2021 top scorer (odds via Sky Bet)

  • 4/1 - Mohamed Salah (EGY)
  • 7/1 - Riyad Mahrez (ALG)
  • 8/1 - Sadio Mane (SEN)
  • 12/1 - Sebastien Haller (IVC), Vincent Aboubakar (CAM)
  • 14/1 - Islam Slimani (ALG)
  • 16/1 - Kalechi Iheanacho (NIG)
  • 18/1 - Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (GAB)
  • 25/1 - Baghdad Bounedjah (ALG), Eric Choupo-Moting (CAM), Famara Diedhiou (SEN), Karl Toko-Ekambi (CAM)

Odds correct at 1330 (06/01/22)

Algeria are fancied to go well again, and their main marksman is former Leicester striker ISLAM SLIMANI, and he is the first selection.

At 14/1, he looks like a real value play, especially as his teammate - and bigger named star - Riyad Mahrez is second favourite in this market at 8/1.

Slimani outscored his compatriot in World Cup qualifying, seven to five, as he finished as the leading scorer in the second stage of the competition, and as the centre of the Algerian attack he will likely get plenty of chances created for him by his quality wide players (Mahrez and Youcef Belaïli) and excellent attacking full-backs (Youcef Atal and Ramy Bensebaini).

The second selection in this market comes from the Mali team that are fancied to have a decent tournament, with their main man IBRAHIMA KONE a whopping 40/1.

Ibrahima Kone stats

As already mentioned, Mali were excellent in World Cup qualifying, winning their group with ease, scoring 11 times with no reply.

Sarpsborg 08's 22-year-old forward Kone notched five of those goals in just five appearances, and comes to AFCON on the back of a solid season in Norway where he scored 11 times in 28 appearances.

He is certainly one to watch, and appears to be the missing piece of a solid Mali puzzle that could see them go further than before.

Africa Cup of Nations 2021 best bets

  • 4pts Algeria to win AFCON 2021 at 6/1 (BetVictor)
  • 2.5pts Cameroon and Senegal to win their groups at 11/10 (General)
  • 1.5pts Nigeria to win Group D at 11/8 (Paddy Power, Betfair)
  • 1.5pt Mali to win Group F at 9/4 (Sky Bet)
  • 1pt e.w Islam Slimani AFCON 2021 top scorer at 14/1 (BetVictor, Sky Bet 1/4 1,2,3,4)
  • 1pt e.w Mali to win AFCON 2021 at 25/1 (General 1/2 1,2)
  • 1pt e.w Ibrahima Kone ACFON 2021 top scorer at 40/1 (Betfred 1/4 1,2,3,4)

Odds correct at 1630 GMT (05/01/22)

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