ONE of Mark O’Haire’s (@MarkOHaire) African Cup of Nations fancies make their tournament bow on Sunday night. Who’s he backing?
Tunisia v Cape Verde | Sunday 19.00 | Eurosport
On Sunday we get our first glimpse of Tunisia, a side I’m very fond of with strong claims for a shot at outfight glory. Georges Leekens has rebuilt the North Africans into a machine; strong and resolute at the back with enough spice to grab an all-important goal.
Late injuries to Saber Khalifa and Fakhreddine Ben Youssef haven’t helped their cause in the attacking stakes but the Carthage Eagles are bullies. They remind me of a Jose Mourinho side; they’ll grind you down, they’ll win the battle, they’re unglamorous, they’re resilient and extremely hard working. They’ll come out on top, eventually.
Belgian boss Leekens has a plan for all occasions. Of course the loss of two more forward-thinking players hasn’t helped but he should be able to ‘find a way’. They were unbeaten in qualifying and shutout the highly-rated Senegalese in both games. I’m remaining bullish about their chances.
Opponents Cape Verde have enjoyed a rapid rise to join the continent’s elite. It’s their second successive Nations Cup and the tiny island nation have retooled and claim their ready to upset some of their more illustrious opponents.
The Blue Sharks impressed in 2013 and were one of the first teams to book their place for the 2015 renewal. It was a fairly comfortably qualifying pool they negotiated and, things just aren’t as rosy as they can often be portrayed with Cape Verde.
In the past year alone they’ve failed to break down Zambia, Mozambique and Luxembourg and coach Rui Aguas knows they must find the keys to unlock defences. Right now, the only way I can see them penetrating this Tunisian defence is via their wicked set-pieces.
The islanders do pose a threat from dead-ball situations but I’m going to invest faith in Tunisia here. Their staunch defensive organisation makes them a real force and BetVictor’s 13/15 (basically, 5/6) on Tunisia -0.25 in the Asian Handicap sticks out.
With this selection, we’ll only lose half our stake should the game end in a draw. We’ll have a full payout if Tunisia take all three points.
For those who want a bigger price, seven of Tunisia’s last 11 victories have seen them win ‘to nil’. BetVictor make it 11/5 they follow suit on Sunday.
Tunisia v Cape Verde – Tunisia -0.25 (13/15 BetVictor)