The 2019 Africa Cup of Nations is now down to just eight countries, but not without some shocks along the way. In the Round of 16, host nation and much fancied Egypt were eliminated by South Africa as poster boy Mohamed Salah failed to drive his team-mates on to the quarter-final stage, and the Liverpool superstar will now recharge his batteries ahead of the new domestic season.
Reds colleague and fellow 2018-19 Champions League winner Sadio Mane is still in the competition with Senegal and is predictably a popular name in the anytime scorer market. The Lions of Teranga talisman got the decisive effort in the previous round against Uganda and will operate from a familiar wide left role. Mane, who is the joint top scorer in the tournament with three goals, is 6/5 to strike anytime during the encounter and is the principal threat to opponents Benin.
Meanwhile, the talented, but inconsistent, Mbaye Niang will lead the line and is 11/5 in the same betting. Niang shot to prominence with Italian giants Milan in 2012 after turning down a host of clubs in England, but failed to display his obvious ability on a regular basis. After five loan spells, the 24-year-old has signed permanently with Rennes, bringing an end to his underwhelming Milan career and the forward will hope his new found confidence can drive Senegal on to a last four spot.
It was also heartbreak for Ghana in the Round of 16 after their defeat to Tunisia on penalties. Alongside Egypt, the Black Stars were viewed as the favourites for the 32nd edition of the Africa Cup of Nations but it was not to be for James Kwesi Appiah’s dejected troops. Tunisia will battle it out with Madagascar and The Eagles are expected to advance.
Taha Yassine Khenissi will occupy the lone striker role and is 11/8 to register anytime during the encounter against the surprise package of the tournament.
Elsewhere, Ivory Coast and Algeria go head-to-head in Suez in what could be the game of the round. The Greens coasted through the group stage, winning all three of their ties without conceding and look strong in all areas. Skipper Riyad Mahrez has fared well but it has been the form of Napoli reserve Adam Ounas which has caught the eye.
The Azzurri winger has three efforts to his name and has earned a starting role after impressing from the bench. Ounas is 3/1 to bag anytime while compatriot Mahrez is 9/5. Rivals Ivory Coast also have some familiar faces with in-demand Crystal Palace star Wilfried Zaha in the ranks. The electric wideman hit the winner against Mali and is 13/8 to net anytime against Algeria.
Nigeria and South Africa complete the final eight and it is the Super Eagles who have the edge, particularly in the striking department. Odion Ighalo hit two against Cameroon and is 13/8 to score anytime, while Arsenal midfielder Alex Iwobi is an attractive 4/1 in the same market.
If the first-choice pairing fail to trouble South Africa, Henry Onyekuru and Ahmed Musa could make their mark in the closing stages. The Bafana Bafana will look to Egypt match winner Thembinkosi Lorch to deliver and the attacker is 6/1 to bag anytime.