2019 African Cup Of Nations – Group D Preview
June 21, 2019
Group D – Winner Odds
Ivory Coast – 10/1 with SportNation
Morocco – 15/2 with Betfair
South Africa – 28/1 with Black Type
Namibia – 200/1 with Ladbrokes
This group is one of the hardest to call, if not the hardest. Morocco went to the last World Cup and have a two-time AFCON champion from this decade in Hervé Renard. Côte d’Ivoire seem to be awakening from the disastrous short spell of Marc Wilmots and could turn some heads. And South Africa have hit the reset button with returning coach Stuart Baxter and could be as fresh and dangerous as ever. Who lands at which spot is really anyone’s guess.
For their part, Morocco may flatter to deceive yet again. Hakim Ziyech is almost an unrivalled playmaker in Africa and a renowned set piece specialist, but he alone will not be enough. Besides, the same team that pressed Spain and Portugal like one unit at 2018 World Cup now looks to be in a state of disarray, having lost their only capable centre forward to internal factions and somehow lost to the Gambia and Zambia (who, I can confirm, are both not going to Egypt) in the run up to the tournament conceding 4 goals in the process. The timing of form just doesn’t seem to be right for Morocco this time around, especially with the key holding midfielder Karim El-Ahmadi looking to be seriously off the pace in tournament preparations.
All things considered, Côte d’Ivoire may as well nick the pole position in this group now, only two years removed from being one of the worst sides at AFCON. They are heading into the tournament with an unproven local coach, a decision that previously led them to a AFCON final in 2012. Ibrahim Kamara knows the country’s talent through and through, having worked with all the youth categories prior, and so he may be the right solution for the Elephants. In their final test before the AFCON, Côte d’Ivoire destroyed Zambia 4:1, and they have one of the hottest up-and-coming stars of Ligue 1 in Nicolas Pépé.
Can the young Victorien Angban and Ibrahim Sangaré finally inject some sense into their central midfield, and can the ever-immature Serge Aurier really lead this team to a medal as the newly appointed captain? We’ll have to wait and see. But they are surely an intriguing side with some fresh new faces.
The same, sort of, goes for South Africa. No Itumeleng Khune in goal, no Aaron Mokoena in defence, no Siphiwe Tshabalala in midfield — you name them, you most likely won’t find them in the squad. This team is here to collect valuable experience first and foremost, with their squad being the fourth least-capped at the tournament and largely consisting of domestic league stars or often-overlooked legionaries.
Bafana will be fun, though, keeping the ball on the ground and playing with more purpose and verticality than often before. Second striker Percy Tau, MVP of the second Belgian division, is the one pulling strings for South Africa on nearly every occasion and may well become the true breakout star of this AFCON, along with the Orlando Pirates fan favourite Thembinkosi Lorch.
Rounding out the group are Namibia, a stubborn, 5-3-2-preferring side that will be extra motivated against South Africa, given that eight of the squad members ply their trade in the neighbouring country, and none of them at any of the biggest clubs. Is this their prime opportunity to seize the spotlight? You’d think so, wouldn’t you?
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