With the quarter finalists decided, we take a look at the eight teams still in contention for the big prize
Despite reservations on the part of some coming into the tournament, arguably tinged with racism, this year's AFCON has proved to be as exciting as ever and captivated the attention of fans from around the world. There have been some spectacular goals, magical upsets, moments of madness and everything else you could want from an international tournament. As the competition enters its quarter final stage this weekend, we decided to check in with the eight nations still in Cameroon to see who is most likely to be crowned African champions, in the eyes of the bookies and our experts.
All odds provided by Bet 365
The Front Runners
With current holders Algeria and their star man Riyad Mahrez heading home early, 2019's beaten finalists Senegal are the bookies favourites to win the tournament. Liverpool star Sadio Mane helped see them through to the last eight with his crucial opening goal against Cape Verde, before Bamba Dieng sealed that win. Mane suffered a head injury during the game and is a doubt for their next match against Equatorial Guinea. With or without him, the West Africans are in a strong position to at least reach the semis and could well win the whole thing.
Senegal are currently 5/2 favourites to lift the trophy.
Hosts Cameroon have been electric so far and are rightly considered one of the most dangerous teams in the tournament. Striker Vincent Aboubakar is on fire, having scored six goals in four games, and stands far above the rest as the top scorer at AFCON 2021. Second place goes to his countryman Karl Toko Ekambi who himself has three goals in four games. With those two up front and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting as back up, it's difficult to see any defence keeping The Indomitable Lions quiet. The only solace their next opponents, Gambia, can take is that Cameroon have conceded one goal in each of their four games. Whether they'll concede enough to outweigh their phenomenal attack is another matter. They should, in all likelihood, breeze past the underdogs and into the last four. They clearly have what it takes to become six time champions.
Cameroon are right now 3/1 to win AFCON 2021.
Rounding off the favourites are Morocco. The Atlas Lions were our expert pick going into the tournament and by our judgement they remain probably the most well balanced and professional side at the tournament. While they have their attacking bright lights in Sofiane Boufal and the returning Youssef En-Nesyri, they also have what many teams at AFCON lack which is elite defensive players in Achraf Hakimi and Romiane Saiss sitting in front of world class Sevilla goalkeeper Yassine Bounou. Morocco have already won the trophy before back in 1976, but to do so again they'll have to get past the mighty Egypt in a match which could determine the winner of the whole tournament.
Morocco ominously lurk behind West African rivals Senegal and Cameroon as third favourites to win at 4/1 odds.
The Middle of the Pack
Slightly behind the front three, somewhat surprisingly, are record seven time winners Egypt. With arguably the best player on the planet right now in Mohamed Salah leading their line, and the record they have in the tournament historically, it may be difficult to understand how The Pharaohs are being counted out so easily. The truth is Egypt do not look like the team of old. They are very pedestrian in their play, evidenced by their failure to score more than two goals from open play across four games, one from Salah and one from Mohamed Abdelmonem. On the other hand, they've conceded just one goal in those games so perhaps they are strong enough and organised enough to grind out three more wins and take home an eighth crown. They needed penalties to get past an impressive Ivory Coast outfit in the last 16 and they should expect an equally close contest against their North African rivals Morocco in the quarters. We, and the bookies, don't see them going all the way this time around. They seem far too one dimensional and if Salah isn't on top form, they struggle.
Egypt are currently 11/2 to win the Africa Cup of Nations.
Tunisia have been quite poor but somehow managed to reach the last eight. They got through the group stage by the skin of their teeth as one of the four best third placed teams, courtesy of the three points they earned hammering Mauritania. Their other two group games saw them lose 1-0 to both Mali and most shockingly to minnows Gambia. Youseff Msakni's goal was enough for them beat Nigeria in the last 16, in a game which also saw Everton's Alex Iwobi sent off for the Nigerians. Overall, the Mauritania win aside, it's been slow and plodding from Tunisia going forward and they don't look a special team. The North Africans do have pedigree at AFCON, having won the 2004 edition of the tournament, and reached the last four in 2019, but they are very much outsiders to win this year.
Tunisia sit as 9/1 outsiders to lift the trophy.
Burkina Faso will themselves face Tunisia on Saturday in the hope that they can make it into the last four for the third time in a decade. As we discussed in our prediction of this match, Burkina Faso are considered the underdogs going into that clash. They are ranked 60th by FIFA, 30 places below Tunisia, and have far longer odds to win the tournament than their opponents. This can only be based on the fact that Burkina Faso, unlike Tunisia, have never won AFCON, because right now they look a much more exciting team and they've also reached the last four in recent years. Aston Villa striker Bertrand Traore has been causing problems for several defences throughout this tournament as his side have scored in each of their four games so far. If they can get through a tough test against Tunisia, there's no reason why the Burkinabe can't feel confident about their chances. We feel they are going under the radar as a potential outside shot to win the tournament.
That being said, Burkina Faso currently sit 25/1 in the bookies odds to lift the trophy.
The Rank Outsiders
It's not every day you see a team pick up six points from three group games - that's more than Senegal achieved - and still be considered absolute underdogs but that is the case for Equatorial Guinea. Their 1-0 win over holders Algeria shocked the world. The delightfully named "National Thunder" then went on to beat fellow outsiders Sierra Leone by the same scoreline to set up a last 16 clash against Mali which they won on penalties following a 0-0 draw. They may have only scored two goals in four games but they've conceded only one during that time. They are clearly very strong defensively and not to be taken lightly. While nobody would have expected them to get this far, people are certainly taking notice now and with huge odds being offered some will be tempted to take a punt on one of AFCON's two biggest underdogs. Equatorial Guinea did reach the quarter finals back in 2012 and the semi finals in 2015, both tournaments which they hosted, so they know what it takes to go relatively deep in the tournament and the bookies could be there for the taking on this one.
Equatorial Guinea are 50/1 outsiders to win their first ever AFCON
The Gambia, Gambia, let's call the whole thing off. The debutants are still alive in what is proving to be one of the great stories of international football. Like Comoros, The Gambia have taken AFCON by storm. Ranked 150th by FIFA and below the likes of Afghanistan, they were understandably written off coming into the tournament, but emerged from their group as one of only six out of twenty four teams to secure seven or more points from their three games. They snuck past fellow minnows Mauritania 1-0, drew 1-1 with group winners Mali and embarrassed Tunisia 1-0. Highly sought after young Bologna striker Musa Barrow gave them a 1-0 victory over Guinea, in a game which saw both teams reduced to 10 men, and The Gambia made it into the quarter finals in their inaugural appearance at the Africa Cup of Nations. The newcomers have scored in each of their four AFCON games. It's difficult to see the fairy tale continuing when The Scorpions face holders Cameroon next, but with three clean sheets in four games perhaps The Gambia could be the team to keep Aboubakar and co quiet.
The Gambia are 50/1 with bookies to win this year's Africa Cup of Nations.
Remember you can watch all remaining fixtures from AFCON 2021 via live stream with Bet 365. All you need to do is open an account or login to your own, make sure you have credit in your account and/or place a bet of any kind, and you'll have access to free live streaming from the world's favourite sports betting company. Simply click on the small video icon next to the fixture of your choice and enjoy the match.
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