Born in the south east of Ireland, Simon put his life-long love of football to good use when he started a successful independent blog in 2010. That opened up an alternative route to a career in journalism, and having had work published across a number of sites and publications, Simon joined the staff at Spotlight Sports Group in 2018.
This month, the top 24 international teams from across Africa will converge on host cities across Egypt, as they prepare to contest the 32nd edition of the Africa Cup of Nations.
To stand a chance of making it all the way to the tournament’s final in Cairo on July 19th, the competition’s leading contenders must successfully navigate their way through the Africa Cup of Nations Group Stages.
While the early favourites to top each section have already been established, international tournament Group Stages remain notoriously unpredictable, and there is potential for an early shock or two in Egypt.
Check out our 2019 Africa Cup of Nations Group predictions and betting tips below:
Click here to view our 2019 Africa Cup of Nations outright predictions and betting tips – including 6/1, 8/1 and 10/1 picks!
Egypt – 2/5
DR Congo – 9/4
Uganda – 16/1
Zimbabwe – 25/1
- Egypt lost just 1 of their 8 matches in the lead up the 2019 AFCON
- Egypt were beaten just once in their last 12 meetings with DR Congo, Uganda and Zimbabwe collectively between 2004 and 2017.
Host nation Egypt are the bookmakers’ clear favourites to top their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations section, and it’s easy to see why.
Spearheaded by arguably the best player involved in the competition, Mohamed Salah, and backed by what is certain to be a vociferous home support, the 2017 Runners-up heavily out-rank their Group A opponents in terms of quality.
Egypt kick off their campaign against Group minnows Zimbabwe on June 21st in Cairo, and a solid win there should set them on their way to topping the section with relative ease.
Nigeria – 4/7
Guinea – 7/4
Burundi – 16/1
Madagascar – 20/1
- Nigeria were the top scoring team in tournament pre-qualification rounds, rattling the net 14 times in total across their games.
- Guinea are unbeaten in 3 previous encounters with Nigeria.
We’re backing Nigeria to top 2019 AFCON Group B, though it’s likely that they will need to avoid defeat against bogey team Guinea to finish as section winners.
Even though they eventually made a Group Stage exit, Nigeria gave a good account of themselves at last year’s World Cup in Russia, and Gernot Rohr’s side can call on extensive major tournament experience to aid their attempts to make it to the knock-out rounds of the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.
Nigeria flexed their goal scoring muscles in AFCON pre-qualifiers, registering more goals in total than any other team from the continent, though their goal-scoring prowess regressed considerably of late – in fact, Nigeria failed to score in 3 of their most recent 6 games.
Nigeria’s Match Day 2 clash with Guinea on June 26th looks like the most pivotal fixture in Group B, but if the Super Eagles can avoid defeat against the team they haven’t beaten in 3 previous meetings, top spot should be theirs.
Senegal – 4/6
Algeria – 11/8
Kenya – 16/1
Tanzania – 25/1
- Senegal are the highest placed African team in FIFA’s official world rankings (22nd).
- Senegal were also the best performing African nation at last summer’s World Cup in Russia, taking 4 points from their 3 Group matches against Poland, Japan and Colombia
Senegal and Algeria should have little trouble in securing qualification from Africa Cup of Nations Group C, though the section’s strongest teams tussle for top spot should make for more compelling viewing.
Armed with some of the most exciting attacking players on show in Egypt, Senegal are our pick to go all the way and win the 2019 AFCON next month.
Sadio Mane, Ismaila Sarr and M’Baye Niang make up a potential lethal trident of match-winning forwards for Senegal, and having lost only 2 of their last 19 matches, Les Lions de la Téranga should have the blend of confidence and quality they need to top their Group ahead of Algeria.
Read our guide detailing 10 exciting players to look out for at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.
Ivory Coast – 11/10
Morocco – 5/4
South Africa – 5/1
Namibia – 50/1
- Ivory Coast lost just 1 of their last 10 international fixtures.
- Morocco won just 2 of their most recent 7 games ahead of the 2019 AFCON.
At 10/1, Ivory Coast are priced just outside the clutch of bookmakers’ favourites to win the 2019 AFCON outright, however, the high volume of mercurial talent in their squad makes them an unpredictable and potentially dangerous tournament outsider.
With players like Wilfried Zaha, Jean Michaël Seri, Ibrahim Sangaré, Franck Kessié, Maxwel Cornet, Wilfried Bony and Nicolas Pépé among their number, Les Éléphants certainly aren’t lacking in game-changers, though getting those stars to click has proved tricky for coach Ibrahim Kamara.
Morocco are Ivory Coast’s biggest threat in Group D, though their increasing reliance on Ajax winger Hakim Ziyech has become a worry – the 25-year-old scored 4 of Morocco’s last 5 goals.
The Moroccan’s good recent record against the Ivory Coast (2 wins from 2) gives them a key psychological edge over the Group favourites however, and we think Hervé Renard’s men can upset the odds to squeeze into 1st place ahead of the Ivorians.
Tunisia – 1/1
Mali – 11/10
Angola – 14/1
Mauritania – 16/1
- Tunisia won 4 of their last 5 matches ahead of the 2019 AFCON, a sequence that includes a win over beaten World Cup finalists Croatia.
- Mali have only won 3 of their last 15 games – 2 of those were against South Sudan.
Tunisia have been priced just ahead of Mali as favourites to top 2019 Africa Cup of Nations Group E, but looking at the nations’ respective recent form, the Tunisians look superb value at evens.
Mali were able to win just 20% (3) of their most recent 15 games, and 2 of those victories were secured against a weak South Sudan side, who are ranked 168th in the world.
In contrast, Tunisia warmed up for the AFCON in Egypt with a series of positive results, including a hugely impressive 2-1 friendly win over last year’s World Cup finalists Croatia in Varaždin.
On paper, Mali seem to have more talent available to them, but under the instruction of Frenchman Alain Giresse, Tunisia have been making great strides – in fact Giresse’s win rate is 80% since he took the Tunisian job last December.
Ghana – 4/5
Cameroon – 11/8
Benin – 8/1
Guinea-Bissau – 33/1
- Ghana scored 2 or fewer goals in 13 of their last 14 fixtures.
- Cameroon are unbeaten in 9 of their last 12 games, and they beat Ghana 2-0 when the teams last met in 2017
Reigning Africa Cup of Nations champions Cameroon start their defence of the competition as 2nd favourites to win their Group and the joint 8th favourite to lift the trophy itself next month in Cairo.
Their Group F rivals Ghana are the bookmakers’ tip to finish as the section’s top team, however, the lack of goal-getting fire power in the Ghanaians’ ranks could severely hamper their chances.
There are pockets of quality in both Cameroon’s and Ghana’s AFCON squads, though the nations are united in their ineptitude in forward areas.
Neither Benin or Guinea-Bissau have the class necessary to take advantage of Ghana and Cameroon’s toothlessness however, and Group F promises to be a two-way race to the top between the section’s biggest names.
Cameroon are unbeaten in their last 5 meetings with Ghana (3 wins, 2 draws), and drawing momentum from that positive head-to-head record could be enough to see them finish in first place.
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We’ll be covering the entire 2019 Africa Cup of Nations campaign over on our match preview section. Make sure to check it out!
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