The Africa Cup of Nations 2019 tournament is about to get underway in Egypt. This year’s edition is literally the biggest in the history of the AFCON because for the first time ever, a total of 24 teams will vie for the title.
The teams have been bracketed into six groups composed of four teams per group. The top two teams per group and the best four third-placed teams will advance to the knockouts rounds. The AFCON 2019 begins on June 21, 2019, and ends on July 19.
For this article, let’s take a look at the first three groups and see which teams are going to top their respective brackets.
Here are the odds to win Groups A, B, and C. Odds were taken from Bet365 as of 6/19/19:
- Egypt -250
- DR Congo +225
- Uganda +1600
- Zimbabwe +2500
It’s no surprise why Egypt is the soccer betting favorite to win this group. After all, they are also the odds on favorite to win it all this year. The Pharaohs are the most successful team in this tournament with a total of seven AFCON wins and they were runners-up in 2017. With Egypt also hosting this year AFCON, they are indeed a force to reckon with. Egypt also has perhaps the best offensive player in this tournament in Mohamed Salah who is coming off a highly successful campaign in the Premier League for Liverpool.
With the likes of Cedric Bakambu and Yannick Bolaise, the Democratic Republic of Congo have enough pieces to pull off the upset and win this group. On the other hand, Uganda has found success since coach Sebastian Desabre has taken over. They have risen to 77th in the FIFA rankings after topping their group in the AFCON qualifying tournament. Group A is arguably one of the toughest groups in the 2019 AFCON and this won’t be a cakewalk for Egypt. Still, I think the hosts will win this group with DR Congo finishing second. Prediction: Egypt
- Nigeria -175
- Guinea +175
- Burundi +1600
- Madagascar +2000
Nigeria has been on a roll since the 2018 FIFA World Cup. As of June 17, 2019, the Super Eagles have lost just once since Russia. They went 4-1 in the AFCON qualifiers, giving up just four goals while scoring 11 in that tournament. They also defeated hosts and AFCON favorites Egypt in a friendly last March. With talented young players like Samuel Chukwueze and Paul Onuachu and established veteran stars like Arsenal`s Alex Iwobi and Leicester City`s Wilfred Ndidi, they are the team to beat in this group.
Guinea is the only team in this group capable of giving Nigeria a challenge here. Led by their skipper and Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita and winger Francois Kamano who played in the French Ligue 1, the National Elephants have a decent offense and a strong defense. Burundi and Madagascar are making their AFCON debuts and with all due respect to both squads, I don’t think they are going to be a threat to Nigeria. That said, while Guinea has a solid defense, they may not score enough goals to beat this talented Nigerian squad. I think Nigeria and Guinea advance to the next round but as far as winning the group is concerned, It’s Nigeria, hands down. Prediction: Nigeria
- Senegal -150
- Algeria +137
- Kenya +1600
- Tanzania +2500
Senegal booked their ticket to the 2019 AFCON by winning Group A of the qualifiers. They were among the top seeds in the draw and have a star-studded roster. The Teranga Lions have what is arguably the best defense in the entire continent and they also boast of an in-form talisman in Sadio Mane. But this isn’t the first time that Senegal’s had a powerhouse cast. They’ve had talented generations in the past but have been unable to put everything together. If they can impress in Group C, then maybe that will give them the confidence to win moving forward.
Algeria has a star player in Riyad Mahrez who was a key contributor for Manchester City this past season. Although he didn’t get the same amount of playing time he did with Leicester, he was very efficient when he was coming off the bench. Also for Algeria, Sofiane Feghouli is coming off his most prolific goal season. These two should provide the firepower for Algeria’s offense. But the team has been less than convincing with a loss to Benin in October 2018 and failed to beat small Gambia home or away in qualifying. Meanwhile, Kenya beat Ghana en route to the AFCON while Tanzania blanked Uganda 3-0 in their final qualifier. If there’s an upset that’s going to happen in this group, it’s going to be Algeria against either Kenya or Tanzania. And Senegal? I think they win this group and possibly reach the semifinals. Prediction: Senegal