THE African Cup of Nations’ Group of Death gets started on Monday afternoon with a mouth-watering tie featuring Ghana and Senegal. Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) looks at the best betting opportunities.
Ghana v Senegal | Monday 16.00 | Eurosport
What a fantastic match we have in store for Monday. Ghana, now under the guidance of Avram Grant, start their search for a first Nations Cup title in 33 years against a highly-rated Senegalese side in Mongomo. A slip up in this fist fixture could prove fatal with Algeria and South Africa still to come.
Ghana arrive at the tournament with plenty of unanswered questions. Their World Cup campaign last summer was dogged by off-field issues and the Black Stars are still only a few miles down a long road to recovery. National pride and confidence in the camp was hit hard.
But the Black Stars have made a wealth of changes in squad and coaching personnel in a bid to bite back. Grant is the third boss to get the gig and was only installed in his role two months ago.
Qualifying was comfortable enough but performances were far from convincing. Failure to beat Uganda home or away led to fierce criticism and although they still boast the same energy, pace and power, can Grant get the side firing in time? Probably not.
The former Chelsea manager has been trialling a back three during pre-tournament friendlies and overhauling systems at this late stage is concerning. It’s just four wins in 14 for the Black Stars and just one clean sheet in 12.
That’ll give Senegal plenty of room for optimism. And I’m surprised to see Lions of Teranga rated as big as 11/4 by the markets. That opens up options in our favour and plumping for Senegal +0.25 in the Asian Handicap market at 28/29 (BetVictor) looks the best option to take advantage.
Former French international Alain Giresse has rebuilt the team after a serious of underperforming displays. Senegal arrive on the back of seven wins in their past 10 outings and just four defeats in 24. We’ll get paid our if they win and collect half of our potential winnings should they take a point.
Despite their galaxy of attacking talent, Giresse’s side are built from the back. They can be ugly to watch at times but they’re well-drilled and dogged. Most importantly, they’re effective. Just one goal was conceded in qualifying, a last-minute winner away to Tunisia.
Saido Mane’s injury is a blow and yes, they do lack a link between midfield and attack. Giresse prefers to pack his midfield with destroyers and that can often leave their attack starved of opportunities but remember, we’ll make profit should they avoid defeat.
Ghana v Senegal – Senegal +0.25 Asian Handicap (28/29 BetVictor)