GROUP A comes to a close in the African Cup of Nations with all four sides still in with a great chance of reaching the quarter-finals. Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) explores the best bets for Congo’s clash with Burkino Faso.
Congo v Burkino Faso | Sunday 18.00 | Eurosport
The task to reach the quarter-finals for both sides is simple. Congo must avoid defeat, Burkino Faso must win. It’s an exciting finale to a group that’s failed to really ignite with just five goals being plundered in the first four fixtures.
Led by French witchdoctor Claude Le Roy, Congo are again rated as big outsiders (14/5 Bet365) to bag the points. They’re chasing a first knockout appearance at the Nations Cup since 1992 and it would represent LeRoy's seventh quarter-final appearance from eight attempts with five countries!
The Red Devils are unlikely to deviate from their tried-and-trusted methods under their The Witchdoctor. They’re renowned for being tough to beat and will offer a defensive-first approach by surrendering possession before looking to speedster Thievy Bifouma when breaking on the counter.
In both previous group games (against Equatorial Guinea and then Gabon) we’ve seen Congo start slowly. The current leaders of Group A have been slow out of the blocks and benefitted from a number of squandered opportunities from their opposition.
But it was a similar story in qualifying. The Red Devils avoided defeat in all three of their road trips during Nations Cup qualifying too. Defending champions Nigeria, the highly-rated South Africa and Sudan couldn’t beat Congo as hosts. With Le Roy in the dugout, can we possibly oppose them again?
I fancied Burkino Faso to put a marker down at this tournament, especially with a kind draw. But they’re to score in their first two games despite firing in 38 shots and hitting the woodwork in both previous outings. It’s been a very frustrating tale for those like me, backing them outright.
It might sound likes sour grapes but I still believe the Stallions have been one of the better sides to watch at this year’s competition. Paul Put’s men have been excellent in possession and only struggled once reaching the final third.
But Paul Put’s men know it’s their final chance and I just can’t see Burkino Faso’s lack of goals continuing on Sunday. With Jonathan Pitroipa, plus Bertrand and Alain Traore in attack, I remain confident in their ability to engineer enough openings to notch and bag the win they need to reach the knockout stage.
Congo v Burkino Faso – Burkino Faso to win (13/10 Ladbrokes)