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2017 Africa Cup of Nations Futures Odds and Betting Tips

Algeria(0-0-0) @ Gabon(0-0-0)

  • Where: Stade de l'Amitié. Libreville, Gabon
  • When: January 14, 2017 11:00 am EST
  • Moneyline: Algeria (7/1 Odds) to Win Africa Cup of Nations

The 2017 African Cup of Nations is set to begin next week in Gabon, and as always, there is plenty of intrigue as the contenders for the continent’s five World Cup slots for Russia next year begin to emerge. The tournament winner gains entry into the eight-team Confederations Cup, which provides at least three matches of valuable experience against the international elite, this summer in Russia.

And with the January transfer window open, European clubs are keen to find promising young talent or perhaps lure a big-name star with a lucrative payday.

Gabon is a substitute host for the 31st edition of this tournament. Originally, Libya was set to host the African Cup of Nations, but the Confederation of African Football stripped the country of the rights in 2014 due to domestic strife. Gabon will host the tournament using four stadiums, highlighted by the 40,000-seat Stade de l’Amitie, site of the opening match as well as the final.

For this article, I’m going to look at picking group winners in the 16-team field as well as a potential overall winner using odds from Bovada (USA). Sign-up and deposit to get a 50% cash bonus for up to $250.

If you live outside of the USA you can bet on this tournament at Bet365. New punters qualify for a 100% bonus for up to $200 when completing their first deposit with this online bookmaker.

Can hosts Gabon claim the top spot in Group A?

Bet on the Africa Cup of Nations 2017Currently getting +135 odds to finish atop Group A, Gabon is behind only Cameroon (+125), and the schedule is set up that both teams will likely square off in a winner-take-all showdown for first-place honours on Jan. 22. Gabon know all about home-field advantage, having been surprisingly eliminated in the group stages in 2015 by then-host Euqatorial Guinea in their final group match.

This time around, the Panthers have the firepower to make their first quarterfinal appearance since 2012 behind star forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who has scored 20 goals in 21 matches across all competitions for German side Borussia Dortmund. Aubameyang has already been linked to a summer move to Real Madrid — new Gabon national coach Jose Antonio Camacho was a former player there — though there are rumours Chinese side Shanghai SIPG may make a staggering €150 million offer in the current window.

Camacho has a strong spine to work with in addition to Aubameyang in the form of midfielders Didier N’Dong (Sunderland) and Mario Lemina (Juventus). Six midfielders have at least 20 caps for Gabon, but none of Camacho’s midfielders are older than 26. In the back, goalkeeper Didier Ovono (Oostende) and defender Bruno Ecule Manga (Cardiff City) round out a host side that at worst should progress to the knockout round and will vie for the top of the group.

Gabon is a solid pick to win the group given the turmoil surrounding Cameroon, who had eight key players turn down manager Hugo Broos to make the trip for this tournament. The two biggest names missing from the four-time tournament champions are Liverpool defender Joel Matip and Schalke 04 forward Eric Maxime Choupo-Moting, leaving Besiktas striker Vincent Aboubakar as the team’s top threat on offence.

Senegal, Algeria to vie in hotly contested Group B

Group B is the most balanced of the four-team groups, with little separating Senegal (+110) and Algeria (+150), Tunisia (+400) serving as potential spoilers and outsiders Zimbabwe (+2000). The Lions of Teranga were the only side to emerge with the maximum points from the final round of qualifying but have not been to the knockout round since 2006.

Manager Aliou Cisse has plenty of talent sprinkled throughout his roster, led by West Ham midfielder and talisman Cheikou Kouyate and Liverpool striker Sadio Mane, a key reason why the Reds are in second place in the Premier League. Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly may not be 100 percent after suffering a knee injury in mid-December, but he is still the best Senegal have to offer on the back line.

I like Algeria — whose lone African Cup title came in 1990 — to emerge as the group winners and avoid a quarterfinal clash with hosts Gabon because they have the most talent across the pitch. Start with 2016 Premier League player of the year Riyad Mahrez, who was instrumental in leading Leicester City to their improbable title last season. While Mahrez has admittedly been off-form for much of the Foxes’ title defence, he is still the best player of this golden generation for the Desert Foxes, who reached the knockout round of the 2014 World Cup and the quarterfinals of this tournament two years ago before losing to eventual champions Ivory Coast.

In the midfield, Mahrez is ably backed by West Ham’s Sofiane Feghouli and Porto’s Yacine Brahimi. Mahrez will also have a familiar face in Leicester teammate Islam Slimani, who has 23 goals in 46 appearances for the national team. But his strike rate pales in comparison to El Arabi Hillel Sudan, as the Dinamo Zagreb target man has 21 goals in 39 international matches.

Ghana, Egypt battle in Group D in bid to avoid Ivory Coast in quarterfinals

In Group C, the Ivory Coast (-200) is as close as it gets to a lock in terms of group winners, and the Elephants are well-poised to become the first team to repeat as African Cup of Nations champions since Egypt did a “three-peat” from 2006-10. And they got even stronger up front with the late addition of Crystal Palace striker Wilfried Zaha, who opted to join the Ivory Coast after spurning England since he was not cup-tied to either country.

Zaha joins fellow forwards Wilfried Bony (Stoke City), Gervinho (Hebei China Fortune) and veteran Salomon Kalou (Hertha Berlin), but if there is a spot of worry for manager Michel Dussuyer, it is he won’t be able to lean on retired veteran Yaya Toure in the midfield. But Bournemouth’s Max Gradel and Franck Kessie from Italian side Atalanta are ready to step in, and in the case of Kessie, it could be the start of a big month as the 20-year-old is expected to join Chelsea in the current transfer window.

The Ivory Coast also have arguably the two best defenders in the tournament in Paris-Saint Germain’s Serge Aurier and Manchester United’s Eric Bailly, with Aurier one of the best wide backs in Europe and Bailly settling in as a centre-half under Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford.

Ghana lost to the Elephants 9-8 on penalties in last year’s final, and the Black Stars are eager to put off a potential rematch until the semifinals. The Black Stars — co-favourites with Egypt to top the group at 11/8 odds — have won this tournament four times, but none since 1982, and have been runners-up three times in that span (1992, 2010, 2015). Veteran striker Asamoah Gyan will again lead the line as he is two goals shy of a half-century and three caps shy of 100 for his distinguished career.

He will be joined by the Ayew brothers Jordan and Andrew, who toil for Aston Villa and West Ham United in England, respectively, and have combined for 23 international goals. While the siblings made the 23-man roster, Lorient’s Abdul Majeed Waris was surprisingly left off the roster by Avram Grant despite having five goals in 18 matches for the club this season.

Many of the key figures from the 2015 finalists return seeking that fifth title, including goalkeeper Razak Briham, defender Baba Rahman and midfielders Mubarak Wakaso and Christian Atsu also will make the trip to Gabon for the Black Stars.

Egypt is the most decorated team in the 16-nation field with seven African Cup titles, but none since completing their trifecta in 2010 — which was also the last time they participated in the tournament. The Pharaohs advanced from a group that included perennial powers Nigeria and have a potent trio up front in midfielders Ahmed El Mohamady (Hull City) and Mohamed El Nenny (Arsenal) providing service to forward Mohamed Salah (AS Roma), who has 27 goals in 45 international appearances.

The hedge here is to Ghana, as both teams will not meet until their group finale on Jan. 25, and the incentive of avoiding the Ivory Coast until the semifinals will provide more than enough motivation to see them through to the top of the group.

Tournament winners – Algeria at 7/1 odds

Bet on Algeria to win the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations at Bovada (USA) or Bet365 (Rest of World).

A host country hasn’t won the African Cup of Nations since Egypt in 2006, and while Gabon are intriguing at 9/1 odds to win the tournament, the semifinals appear to be where the Panthers’ journey ends. On that side of the bracket, I expect Algeria — at 7/1 odds to win the tournament — to emerge, and the Desert Foxes could have an easy road to the semifinals if Cameroon are unable to deal with their internal issues.

On the other side, the Ivory Coast are the tournament favorites at 4/1 odds and seeking to make their fourth finals appearance in the last six African Cup of Nations tournaments. But this is the year Ghana finally break through and beat the Elephants in this competition for the first time since 2008.

A final between Algeria and Ghana should have some flow given the quality both sides have offensively, and in the end, I expect Algeria to lift the trophy as a just reward for this golden generation of Desert Foxes that began with their 2010 World Cup appearance and will likely conclude there next year in Russia.

Odds to win the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations

Ivory Coast 4/1
Senegal 5/1
Cameroon 7/1
Algeria 7/1
Ghana 9/1
Gabon 9/1
Egypt 9/1
Morocco 12/1
Tunisia 20/1
Mali 20/1
Democratic Republic of Congo 22/1
Burkina Faso 28/1
Uganda 80/1
Togo 100/1
Zimbabwe 100/1
Guinea-Bissau 150/1

Chris AltrudaThis article was written by Chris Altruda

Chris Altruda has spent more than two decades as a sportswriter, first for ESPN SportsTicker in Jersey City, New Jersey, where he rose to the level of college sports coordinator and was NCAA Men's Basketball Columnist. From there, he moved onto The Associated Press, where Chris started as an editorial assistant in their MegaSports division in the AP's headquarters in New York City before taking on the role of Scores Manager. He most recently served as an editor for nearly 11 years for STATS' editorial department based in Northbrook, Illinois, writing game previews for all US professional and major college sports as well as the English Premier League and international soccer. Currently a freelancer, Chris is still working the international soccer beat and other assorted projects. A native New Yorker and graduate of Marquette University who still refers to them as the Warriors, Chris is now holding out hope the Jets will reach a Super Bowl in his lifetime since the Cubs proved miracles are possible by winning the 2016 World Series. Chris can be found on Twitter at @AlTruda73

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