THE African Cup of Nations quarter-finals are upon us. Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) shares his view on the first last eight clash between neighbours Congo and DR Congo.
Congo v DR Congo | Saturday 16.00 | Eurosport
A Congo derby gets the quarter-finals of the Nations Cup underway on Saturday afternoon and it’s as tight a betting contest as you’re likely to find this weekend. DR Congo are rated 9/5 favourites with Congo available to back at 21/20 and the draw 2/1. Take your pick…
It’s a fascinating duel. Firstly, there’s a frosty relationship between the two countries with many families separated on either side of the border and plenty of political wrangling ongoing. Secondly, Congo coach Claude LeRoy has previously had two spells as DR Congo coach and thirdly, this is the first football clash between the neighbours for 41 years! It all gets added to a bubbling melting pot!
Starting with Congo then. The Red Devils topped Group A in their first appearance at a Nations Cup finals for 15 years having collected seven points from their three pool fixtures. It was an impressive show of force from LeRoy’s men who beat all the odds to book their place in the knockout rounds.
And the experienced French boss is in confident mood, saying “Our potential, talent, vigour make us a good bet for the semi-finals.” I like that. LeRoy has seen and done it all in Nations Cup history and without a doubt, he’s a huge positive for Congo to have onside.
Thievy Bifouma has been the Red Devils star, scoring two of their four goals in the competition to top the Golden Boot standings. And it’s interesting to note, all four of their goals in the group-stage arrived after half-time. Interesting, eh?
Meanwhile, DR Congo created history by becoming the first side to draw six successive Nations Cup games. Incredibly the three points collected from their three Group B draws was enough to see them progress in a tight pool.
But Florent Ibenge’s men must do without injured captain Youssef Mulumbu. The Leopards will also need to be more clinical in front of goal. Yannick Bolasie’s failed to hit top gear since their opening game and Ibenge (formerly LeRoy’s assistant) will need more from the DR Congo star if they’re to progress.
So with seven of the 12 pool games across Group A and B ending all square plus 10 of the 20 quarter-finals from the five previous tournaments also ending in stalemates, draw hunters will be attracted to the 2/1 (Coral) on offer for a repeat. To be fair, at those quotes, it’s well worth a wee investment.
Rather than pick out a potential semi-finalist, I prefer to delve into the goals markets. Looking at the eight Nations Cup tournaments this millennium, we can see that only 13/32 quarter-finals have featured Over 2.5 Goals with 9/32 completing 90 minutes with just one goal or fewer.
We can also see that 19/32 of the last eight matches producing exactly 2-3 goals and 17/32 gave punters winning Both Teams To Score selections. The results certainly give us hope that the weekend’s ties could throw up a few classic encounters.
Both Congo and DR Congo were involved in 2/3 Both Teams To Score group games as well as 2/3 pool matches to produced exactly 2-3 goals. So with all that considered, I’m going to take Both Teams To Score at 5/4 with William Hill.
Four of the six games involving the sides featured both teams getting on the scoresheet and the quarter-final trends are also in our favour.
Congo v DR Congo – Draw (2/1 Coral)
Congo v DR Congo – Both Teams To Score (5/4 William Hill)