AFCON 2023 Outright Tips: Best Bets and Preview for Africa Cup of Nations

The Africa Cup of Nations begins this Saturday with the inaugural match, which will see hosts Ivory Coast facing Guinea-Bissau. With plenty of Premier League stars involved in the tournament, like Mohamed Salah, Andre Onana, and Nicolas Jackson, amongst possible new entries in the EPL like Osimhen and others, there is plenty of anticipation for what should be a very interesting tournament. 

We have asked our head football experts Tyler Morris to provide his AFCON outright tips for the winner of the tournament, a potential dark horse, and the top goal scorer. We have also looked at each group and tipped group winners which form a very intriguing 110/1 group winners accumulator. Read on to find the full preview and best bookmaker offers for this exciting event.

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AFCON 2023 Outright Predictions

£20 Returns £140

Reason for tip: Reigning African Cup of Nations champions, Senegal, enter the 2023 tournament as formidable contenders. With experienced stars like Mane, Gueye, and Koulibaly, tactical adaptability under coach Cissé, and the ability to handle varied conditions, they are rightful favourites for a strong title defence.

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£10 Returns £210

Reason for tip: Mali, priced at 20/1, emerges as a dark horse in the tournament. Their recent youth success, geographical advantage in Ivory Coast, and impressive qualifying campaign showcase their potential. With a mix of youth and experience, Mali offers appealing odds for those seeking a realistic outsider.

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£10 Returns £170

Reason for tip: Vincent Aboubakar, Cameroon's leading scorer in the 2021 tournament, is poised for more goal-scoring success. His past record, coupled with Cameroon's attacking style, positions him as a constant threat. Aboubakar's leadership and experience add value, making him a top contender for the golden boot.

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£10 Returns £1,148

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Odds corrects at time of posting and subject to change; Stake Limits Might Apply; T&C's Apply; #Ad

AFCON 2023: A Tournament of Tactical Tussles and Striking Spectacles

The African Cup of Nations (AFCON) has long been renowned for its intense, tactical battles rather than high-scoring thrillers. The 2023 edition, set to unfold in the Ivory Coast, promises an intriguing blend of solid defensive strategies and the rise of gifted attacking talents from across Africa.

The Defensive Dominance of Past AFCONs

Historically, the AFCON has been a battleground where robust defences often triumph. The 2021 edition exemplified this with a modest average of 1.81 goals per game. The trend of low-scoring affairs was stark, with half of the games not surpassing the 1.5 goals mark and only 29% exceeding 2.5 goals. A 1-0 scoreline, the most frequent result, occurred in 35% of the matches. This defensive stronghold has been a defining characteristic of the tournament.

2023 Edition: A Potential Shift in Dynamics

However, the 2023 tournament might deviate from this pattern. The emergence of prolific attacking talents suggests we could witness a shift towards more offensive play. Yet, the question remains whether this edition will break the mould of traditionally low-scoring games, or if the tactical, defence-oriented approach will continue to dominate.

Evaluating Top Contenders and Their Odds

As per the odds at the moment of writing, several teams emerge as strong contenders. Morocco and Senegal, both at 6/1, followed by Algeria and Ivory Coast at 7/1, and Cameroon and Egypt at 9/1, are among the top picks. Nigeria, at 10/1, and Tunisia at 11/1, also feature as potential champions, with other teams trailing at 14/1 and beyond.

Scrutinising the Favourites

Cameroon, despite adopting an open style in the last edition, scoring 21 goals in seven matches, might face challenges due to their aggressive approach. Similarly, Ghana, under Chris Hughton, might struggle due to their top-heavy team composition and key defensive absences.

The Hosts: Ivory Coast’s Balanced Squad

The hosts, Ivory Coast, present a strong case with a well-balanced team. Defensively solid with players like Roma’s Evan Ndicka and Nottingham Forest’s Willy Boly, and a midfield comprising Ibrahim Sangare, Franck Kessie, Seko Fofana, and Jean Michael Seri, the team appears robust. In attack, the absence of Wilfried Zaha is compensated by the presence of Sebastien Haller, Jeramie Boga, Simon Adingra, and Christian Kouame.

Climate Considerations: A Factor for North African Teams

An interesting aspect to consider is the climate, especially for North African teams. Historically, teams from this region have struggled in tournaments held south of the Sahara Desert. Since 2010, no North African team has won the AFCON in this region. The humid climate, in contrast to the dry heat of North Africa, could pose challenges for Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia.

Mali
Mali could be the dark horses of the tournament on the basis of what seen at youth level

The Dark Horse: Mali’s Rising Talents

Mali emerges as a promising dark horse, priced at 20/1. With a young team that has achieved success at the U17 and U20 levels and a favourable geographical proximity to Ivory Coast, Mali could surprise many. They boast continuity and familiarity, crucial for success in international tournaments.

Predictions for Africa Cup of Nations 2023

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1. Tournament Winner: Senegal’s Quest for Consecutive Crowns

Senegal, the reigning champions of the African Cup of Nations, are poised for a formidable title defence in the 2023 tournament. Their triumph in 2021 was not a flash in the pan but a result of strategic brilliance and exceptional skill, qualities they carry into this year’s competition.

What makes Senegal a top contender is their blend of seasoned pros and budding talents. Players like Sadio Mane, Idrissa Gueye, and Kalidou Koulibaly bring a wealth of experience and have been pivotal in major tournaments. Mane’s attacking flair, Gueye’s midfield dominance, and Koulibaly’s defensive prowess form the backbone of a team that has consistently performed at the highest level.

The squad’s tactical adaptability is another critical factor. Under coach Aliou Cissé’s guidance, they have shown the ability to switch strategies effectively, a crucial trait in a tournament known for its unpredictability. Additionally, the climate in Ivory Coast mirrors that of Cameroon, where they triumphed last time, suggesting they are well-prepared to handle the environmental conditions.

Senegal’s consistent performance, combined with their team chemistry and the experience of winning the title, makes them a formidable force. Their odds reflect their status as one of the favourites, and rightly so, given their proven track record and the depth of talent at their disposal.

2. Potential Dark Horse: Mali’s Emergence

Mali, priced at 20/1, emerges as the potential dark horse of the tournament. Their recent rise in the African and global football scene has been nothing short of remarkable, marked by a series of impressive performances at youth levels. The success of their U17 and U20 teams has laid a strong foundation for the senior side, showcasing their ability to nurture and develop young talents.

Geographical proximity to the host nation, Ivory Coast, offers Mali a significant advantage. Familiarity with the climate and playing conditions could play a crucial role, especially in a tournament where external factors like weather can influence the outcome of games. This geographical advantage is supplemented by their impressive qualifying campaign, where they displayed tactical astuteness and resilience.

The blend of youthful exuberance and experienced campaigners in their squad makes Mali an exciting team to watch. They have demonstrated the potential to cause upsets and go deep into the tournament, making their odds quite attractive for those looking for an outsider with a realistic chance of success.

3. Top Goalscorer: Vincent Aboubakar’s Goal-Scoring Prowess

Vincent Aboubakar, the spearhead of Cameroon’s attack and the top scorer of the 2021 edition, is primed to repeat his goal-scoring exploits. His record in the previous tournament, where he led the goal charts, underscores his ability to find the back of the net consistently.

Aboubakar’s scoring prowess is complemented by Cameroon’s attacking style of play. Known for their forward-thinking approach and ability to create numerous scoring opportunities, Cameroon provides the perfect platform for Aboubakar to excel. His instinctive positioning, clinical finishing, and physical presence make him a constant threat to defences.

Moreover, Aboubakar’s leadership and experience play a crucial role in guiding the younger players in the squad. His recent performances, including key goals in the World Cup, have demonstrated his ability to perform on the biggest stages. His odds for being the top scorer are reflective of his capabilities and the attacking setup of his team, making him a top contender for the golden boot.

AFCON Group Winners Accumulator Tip

As the anticipation for the Africa Cup of Nations 2023 escalates, let’s delve into the group stage dynamics and predict the potential winners of each group.

Group A – Clash of Titans: Nigeria and Ivory Coast
Group A presents a riveting contest, especially between Nigeria and Ivory Coast. Nigeria, only suffering one defeat in 2023, boasts an enviable attacking arsenal featuring Victor Osimhen, Kelechi Iheanacho, and Samuel Chukwueze. Their offensive prowess makes them a formidable adversary. Despite Ivory Coast’s potential challenge, Nigeria’s robust squad depth and recent form make them the favourites to emerge as group leaders.

Group B – Egypt’s Ascendancy
Egypt appears poised to dominate Group B. Their defensive solidity, combined with the attacking brilliance of Mo Salah, positions them as the group’s frontrunners. Ghana, despite their footballing pedigree, hasn’t displayed their best form recently, losing three of their last four games in 2023. This inconsistency makes Egypt the likely group toppers, with Ghana following as potential runners-up.

Group C – Senegal’s Reign
In Group C, Senegal, the reigning champions, are the clear favorites. Their recent triumph over Cameroon and a remarkable victory against Brazil underscore their dominance. The Lions of Teranga’s blend of skill and experience positions them as the indisputable leaders of this group.

Group D – Algeria’s Dominance Questioned
While Algeria is considered the favorite in Group D, there’s a twist. Considering the other teams in the group and Algeria’s recent form, Burkina Faso could potentially challenge their supremacy. Algeria’s inclusion of Houssem Aouar does boost their midfield, but Burkina Faso’s cohesive unit and consistent performances in recent times might see them causing an upset in this group.

Group E – Mali’s Midfield Might
Mali, having topped their qualifying group, is tipped to replicate this success in the finals. The depth of their midfield, featuring Yves Bissouma, Boubacar Traore, and the promising Kamory Doumbia, is particularly noteworthy. While their attacking line might not be the most formidable, their robust defence and the low-scoring nature of the tournament may work in their favor. Tunisia, despite being their closest rivals, has not shown convincing form in 2023, giving Mali a clearer path to the top spot.

Group F – Morocco’s Continued Excellence
Morocco, fresh off a semi-final appearance in the World Cup, is expected to effortlessly dominate Group F. Their defence, including the standout goalkeeper Yassine Bounou, and the consistency of their World Cup squad, suggest they will comfortably lead this group.

Predictions for AFCON 2023 Group Winners:

  • Group A Winner: Nigeria – Their attacking options and recent form give them an edge over Ivory Coast.
  • Group B Winner: Egypt – Mo Salah’s influence and their solid defence should see them through as group leaders.
  • Group C Winner: Senegal – As reigning champions with impressive victories, they are set to continue their dominance.
  • Group D Winner: Burkina Faso – In a potential upset, Burkina Faso’s consistent performance could challenge Algeria’s expected dominance.
  • Group E Winner: Mali – Their strong midfield and defence position them as the favorites over Tunisia.
  • Group F Winner: Morocco – Given their recent World Cup success, Morocco should comfortably top this group.

Conclusion

As the tournament unfolds, it will be fascinating to see whether the emerging attacking talents can break the defensive stronghold that has traditionally defined the AFCON. Senegal, Mali, and Vincent Aboubakar are poised to leave a significant mark on what promises to be an enthralling tournament.

£20 Returns £140

Reason for tip: Reigning African Cup of Nations champions, Senegal, enter the 2023 tournament as formidable contenders. With experienced stars like Mane, Gueye, and Koulibaly, tactical adaptability under coach Cissé, and the ability to handle varied conditions, they are rightful favourites for a strong title defence.

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£10 Returns £210

Reason for tip: Mali, priced at 20/1, emerges as a dark horse in the tournament. Their recent youth success, geographical advantage in Ivory Coast, and impressive qualifying campaign showcase their potential. With a mix of youth and experience, Mali offers appealing odds for those seeking a realistic outsider.

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£10 Returns £170

Reason for tip: Vincent Aboubakar, Cameroon's leading scorer in the 2021 tournament, is poised for more goal-scoring success. His past record, coupled with Cameroon's attacking style, positions him as a constant threat. Aboubakar's leadership and experience add value, making him a top contender for the golden boot.

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£10 Returns £1,148

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Odds corrects at time of posting and subject to change; Stake Limits Might Apply; T&C's Apply; #Ad


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Tyler Morris
Sports writer and analyst Tyler Morris has more than eight years of experience writing about a range of sports. He has considerable knowledge of football, and he has also covered US sports extensively, offering in-depth comments and analysis on the most recent events in these sports. Tyler is a respected specialist in the field since he utilises his knowledge to provide incisive analysis and opinion on the most recent sports events with a track record of successful tips.