IT’S Group B’s time to shine as the African Cup of Nations continues with the second round of fixtures. Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) eyes up the best bet in Zambia’s clash with Tunisia.
Zambia v Tunisia | Thursday 16.00 | Eurosport
It’s all to play for in Group B. With both opening round fixtures ending 1-1, a win or loss could prove decisive for any of the four sides contesting Thursday’s football.
Tunisia were my outright selection pre-tournament and the team I wanted to be with in Group B. The outright pick heralded from their kind draw and the fact all the bigger African powerhouses were congregated in Groups C and D. Therefore, should Tunisia qualify, they wouldn’t be facing any of those major nations until the semi-finals.
Another big reason behind the decision was the continuity amongst the squad, the level-headed nature of the players (many of which still play domestically), their highly-rated Belgian coach Georges Leekens and their resolute defence.
Now the North Africans took a long time to get going against Cape Verde and only came away with a 1-1 draw. But they did look to be the most likely winners as the game went on. Having grabbed the lead it was only a debateable penalty that cost the Carthage Eagles taking maximum points.
There’s no doubt late injuries to forward-thinking Saber Khalifa and Fakhreddine Ben Youssef has had an effect on the proficiency of their frontline. However, this Leekens team are built from the back, ugly in nature and all about winning. And at any cost.
Most of the betting markets I’ve wanted to explore for this match are quite cramped. But I’ll happily invest my faith in Tunisia at BetVictor’s 23/20 with rival firms as short as even-money. Why?
Well as already mentioned, the Carthage Eagles are a bit of a machine. They’ll grind you down and look too outwork you before picking you off. They’re a tough team, powerful and imposing and that should be evident against a fairly lightweight Zambian side.
Zambia’s squad is young and inexperienced and in their tournament opener, showed little in the way of attacking bite against DR Congo. Given Singuluma grabbed a very early goal and from then on in, they were second best.
Key midfielder Nathan Sinkala has been ruled out of the tournament to further weaken Honour Janza’s charges and although they’ll look to sit back and nick a goal on the break, they just don’t have the attacking quality to really hurt this Tunisian side.
During qualification, the Copper-headed Bullets only managed six goals and three of those came at home to minnows Niger. In fact, they’ve only scored two goals or more in five of their last 25 outings so finding a way to goal is going to be a big issue.
Three defeats in 18 is creditable enough. We know Zambia are difficult to beat and tough to breakdown but this is a Tunisian team with just one defeat in 11 to their name and that came against Belgium. Egypt, Senegal and South Korea have all been beaten during that spell and they should be able to add Zambia’s name to that list on Thursday.
Zambia v Tunisia – Tunisia to win (23/20 BetVictor)