2019 African Cup of Nations – Group A Preview
June 21, 2019
Group A – Winner Odds
Egypt – 9/2 with Unibet
DR Congo – 25/1 with Betfred
Uganda – 125/1 with SportNation
Zimbabwe – 125/1 with Black Type
This year’s AFCON takes place in Egypt, which shouldn’t have been the case, but Cameroon were stripped of the right to host in November 2018 having failed to convince CAF regarding infrastructure and security.
Egypt, who coincidentally faced Cameroon in the last Afcon final two years ago and lost (talk about revenge!), will now therefore get a premium chance to add to their record collection of seven gold medals which includes three straight triumphs from the late noughties. They have already won three times as hosts (2006, 1986 and back in 1959 when they were called United Arab Republic and a three-team Afcon made sense), and failed at home just once, in 1974, when they at least claimed bronze.
Just for that home record, they’ll be fancied by many again this year. And truth be told, Egypt would probably be among top candidates on a foreign soil, too. They had a fairly straightforward qualifying campaign, slipping up just once in their March dead rubber game in Niger, while Mohamed Salah didn’t need to stretch that much through. When needed though, the Liverpool star was still as seamlessly dominant as he always is (and his 2 goals and 2 assists in one game against Niger may have felt like overkill).
That said, a lot of Egypt’s problems that held them back in 2017 and 2018 seem to persist in 2019. While their defence is now more dynamic and their attack finally unshackled, they still typically can’t buy a goal from their starting striker (it’s either Marwan Mohsen or the ageless “Koka” – it’s a bit like picking your own poison at times), and don’t get that much of a tangible final product from the attacking midfielder in the hole, or nearly any creative support from their central midfield of Mohamed Elneny and Tarek Hamed.
To conclude: despite a greater freedom enjoyed by all the forwards and Koka rejuvenating his career at Olympiacos, this could be as one-man Egypt team as ever in the past years, and so they may be there for the taking. The issue is, who’s doing that taking? Uganda have a good defence and tons of pace up front, but they are overly reliant on Farouk Miya and Emmanuel Okwi when it comes to offensive production and already went goalless in their 2017 AFCON encounter with Egypt, so they may falter again here with a similar XI in place. Zimbabwe are basically Uganda, only they centre around one man instead of two; Khama Billiat already stole the show on one or two occasions in 2017 and will be one to watch here, as well.
Finally, there’s DR Congo, a throwback of an African national team — physical, direct, efficient, with little to no creative spark in the middle of the park. This feels more like one last ride for Youssouf Mulumbu and Trésor Mputu rather than a serious attempt at winning the whole thing from the perennial also-rans.
Here are the bookmakers offering the best 2019 African Cup of Nations betting odds
Author: Tomáš Daníček
Tomas is a journalist who's ruthlessly been covering AFCON for Czech readers since 2012, but mostly a blogger with passion for African and Asian football which he often channels for everyone to see over at @Sandal4Goalpost and @shootlikeodil