THE African Cup of Nations quarter-finals continue on Saturday night with Tunisia taking on tournament hosts Equatorial Guinea. Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) shares his betting views on the big game.
Tunisia v Equatorial Guinea | Saturday 19.00 | Eurosport
Tournament hosts Equatorial Guinea continue their incredible story with a last eight tie against Tunisia. A 2-0 win for EG against Gabon saw the National Thunder clinch second spot in Group A and survive the group stage without defeat.
It’s a remarkable tale and now they go in search of a first semi-final appearance in their history. Their previous Nations Cup last eight tie came on home soil three years and the Thunder were trounced 3-0 by Ivory Coast. A repeat scoreline is unlikely this time around.
The match has been relocated to Bata. Having initially been due to play in Ebebiyi, tournament organisers moved it to the port city, citing concerns over the pitch. And that’s a good omen for EG; they’ve never lost in Bata.
Coach Esteban Becker, appointed just 11 days before the start of the tournament, has defender Diosdado Mbele back from suspension and the Argentine is likely to charge his team with sitting back and trying to hit Tunisia on the break. It’s no cliché to say, Equatorial Guinea are just happy to be here.
Tunisia topped Group B and will have their sights set on the semi-finals. Head coach Georges Leekens is well aware of the intimidating atmosphere his side will face as well as EG’s threat and pace on the counter.
The Eagles of Carthage arrive with a serious pedigree and a squad that’s ready to make their mark on this competition. The North Africans have lost just once since the start of 2014 and that came against Belgium. They also took four points off EG in World Cup qualifying for 2014 and are ranked 34 places higher in Africa and 96 players ahead of their hosts in the world rankings.
Tunisia’s famed defence hasn’t got to grips with the tournament just yet but in skipper Yassine Chikaoui alongside the dangerous Ahmed Akaichi, you get the feeling Leekens’ side have enough tools in their armoury to crush Guinea’s dreams. They’re tough, rugged and unforgiving and appear to be playing their way into the competition.
I’m going to be a bit bold now and bypass the straight Tunisia win and instead take the Eagles of Carthage to come through in 90 minutes in a match featuring Under 2.5 Goals. The 2015 Nations Cup has seen 19/24 group-games feature fewer than three goals and that includes 5/6 matches involving Equatorial Guinea and Tunisia. Betfair have made it a 23/10 shot and I’ll have a small nibble on that.
Tunisia v Equatorial Guinea – Tunisia to win and Under 2.5 Goals (23/10 Betfair)