THE final African Cup of Nations quarter-final promises to be a thriller as pre-tournament favourites Ivory Coast and Algeria go head-to-head.
Ivory Coast v Algeria | Sunday 19.30 | Eurosport
Before the competition began, we spoke about the lopsided nature of the Nations Cup draw. A number of continental heavyweights were thrown together in Group C and D and it always promises to throw up a titanic quarter-final tussle. That’s what, on paper, we should have here…
Before Ivory Coast’s final group game against Cameroon, I gave them pelters. Yeah, I called them a disgrace and labelled the Elephants ‘appalling’ in the tournament. Luckily enough for Herve Renard’s side, Cameroon were even more inept, ponderous and useless, allowing Ivory Coast to saunter through as Group D winners.
But I can’t get away from those poor performances. Max Gradel’s wonder goal in that final pool fixture does not disguise for faults and I just can’t fathom how the Elephants can be chalked up as pre-match favourites here. Yes, Gervinho and Cheick Tiote are back but they’re just so overrated.
Luckily for us, that opens up a number of options to get with Algeria. The Desert Foxes turned it on in their final group game against Senegal when it mattered most and it was no surprise; Christian Gourcuff’s men were playing on a better surface. That match was played in Malabo, the same venue for Sunday’s quarter-final.
There’s no doubting the improved surface led to a much more fluid Algerian game. Their short-passing game was badly hindered by the surfaces in Mongomo during their first two outings. It really is a big plus, for Algeria.
The Desert Foxes have made it past the quarter-final stage once since winning the tournament in 1990, and with a semi-final against DR Congo in wait, this is surely the best possible chance for the North Africans to go the distance now.
Paddy Power are 11/10 on Algeria in the Draw No Bet market and that looks hugely generous. The Desert Foxes are Africa’s top-ranked side and well capable of giving the Elephants exactly what they deserve on Sunday night.
And yes, you guessed it… I can’t resists a small splurge on Ladbrokes’ 5/4 for Both Teams To Score. Ivory Coast haven’t failed to get on the scoresheet in a competitive game since the 2012 Nations Cup final. They’ve now seen 22/28 outings feature BTTS winners whilst 19/34 Nations Cup quarter-finals have also banked in the Both Teams To Score column.
Ivory Coast v Algeria – Algeria draw no bet (11/10 Paddy Power)
Ivory Coast v Algeria – Both Teams To Score (5/4 Ladbrokes)