Betting Preview for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations Knockout Phase – Updated Odds and Team Analysis

| January 21, 2022 7:35 am PST

As the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations runs deeper into 2022, it’s time to look ahead to the knockout phase of the tournament.

Following a memorable – and somewhat chaotic – group stage, just 16 teams remain in contention for the trophy. Remarkably, defending champion Algeria has already exited the competition after finishing rock bottom of Group E.

Four-time champion Ghana also failed to qualify for the knockouts after suffering a shock loss to AFCON debutant Comoros. Ranked #132 in the world, Comoros is undoubtedly the surprise package in the last 16.

Host nation Cameroon was one of eight sides to reach the knockouts without tasting defeat, alongside Senegal, Morocco, Gabon, Ivory Coast, Mali, and Gambia. Nigeria is the only team with a 100% record, having won all three group games.

The round of 16 gets underway this Sunday, January 23, with the final scheduled for February 6. Let’s check out the latest odds for the Africa Cup of Nations winner and discuss the chances of the remaining sides.

2021 Africa Cup of Nations Winner Odds

As you can see, the top Africa Cup of Nations betting sites can’t seem to separate Senegal (5.50), Cameroon (5.50), and Nigeria (5.50) as we head into the business end of the tournament.

Ivory Coast (6.00) and Morocco (6.50) are also among the frontrunners to secure the title. The Elephants and the Atlas Lions are part of the bookmakers’ five-team group of favorites.

Next up, Egypt (11.00) and Mali (13.00) find themselves just outside the cluster of favorites. Meanwhile, Tunisia (21.00) sits in limbo between the favored teams and the large batch of outsiders.

Burkina Faso (41.00), Guinea (51.00), Gabon (51.00), and Gambia (51.00) come next, followed by Cape Verde (91.00) and Malawi (101.00). Comoros (251.00) and Equatorial Guinea (251.00) head into the knockouts as rank outsiders.

Before we take a closer look at the AFCON betting favorites, here is the draw for the round of 16.

AFCON 2021 – Round of 16 Schedule

  • Burkina Faso vs. Gabon (Sunday, January 23)
  • Nigeria vs. Tunisia (Sunday, January 23)
  • Guinea vs. Gambia (Monday, January 24)
  • Cameroon vs. Comoros (Monday, January 24)
  • Senegal vs. Cape Verde (Tuesday, January 25)
  • Morocco vs. Malawi (Tuesday, January 25)
  • Ivory Coast vs. Egypt (Wednesday, January 26)
  • Mali vs. Equatorial Guinea (Wednesday, January 26)

The round of 16 kicks off this Sunday, January 23. With four AFCON titles between them, Nigeria and Tunisia’s matchup is definitely standout tie on Sunday.

On Monday, Cameroon faces Comoros before Senegal comes up against Cape Verde. Cameroon and Senegal are both expected to reach the quarter-finals without any real problems.

The biggest tie of the round sees Ivory Coast and Egypt go head-to-head on Wednesday. The Pharaohs have won a record seven AFCON crowns, while the Elephants have claimed two titles. But one of them will be going home far sooner than expected.

Who will get their hands on the trophy in a fortnight’s time? Let’s analyze the leading contenders.

Analyzing the AFCON 2021 Favorites Ahead of the Knockouts

When it comes to betting on the Africa Cup of Nations winner, there are five main frontrunners. Senegal, Cameroon, and Nigeria are the bookies’ narrow favorites, with Ivory Coast and Morocco just behind.

I will take a closer look at each of those teams in this section and attempt to find out who has the upper hand.

Senegal (5.50)

It wouldn’t be unfair to say that Senegal failed to live up to expectations in the group stage. Aliou Cisse’s side needed a 97th-minute penalty to get past Zimbabwe before recording goalless draws with Guinea and Malawi.

Although the Lions of Teranga dominated all three matches, they struggled to make the most of their superiority. They will need to up their game if they want to go deep into the competition.

Of course, superstars like Edouard Mendy, Kalidou Koulibaly, and Sadio Mane are among the top players at AFCON 2021. But if the 2019 runners-up are serious about going one better this time around, they must improve.

Cameroon (5.50)

Unlike Senegal, Cameroon made light work of the group stage. After beating Burkina Faso, the hosts thrashed Ethiopia 4-1 before drawing with Cape Verde. Two wins and a draw saw them finish four points clear atop Group A.

Cameroon netted seven goals during the group stage, five of which were scored by Vincent Aboubakar. As a result, the former Porto and Besiktas striker is leading the Golden Boot race by some distance.

Player Team Goals Assists
Vincent Aboubakar Cameroon 5
Ibrahima Kone Mali 3
Wahbi Khazri Tunisia 2 1
Nicolas Pepe Ivory Coast 2 1
Musa Barrow Gambia 1 2

Only Egypt has won more AFCON titles than Cameroon. The Indomitable Lions have lifted the trophy on no fewer than five occasions – most recently in 2017.

So far, Toni Conceicao’s men have coped with the pressure of playing in their home tournament. With a clash against lowly Comoros up next, the hosts will be confident of cruising into the quarter-finals.

Nigeria (5.50)

When I published my pre-tournament AFCON 2021 betting guide, Nigeria was priced at 12.00 to clinch the title. Having won all three of their group games, the Super Eagles are now priced at 5.50 to go all the way.

The three-time champions saw off Egypt, Sudan, and Guinea-Bissau in Group D. Not only did they score six goals on their way to achieving a 100% record, but they also conceded just once – keeping two clean sheets in the process.

When the Nigeria Football Federation sacked head coach Gernot Rohr less than a month before the Africa Cup of Nations, the Super Eagles’ campaign was destined for failure. But interim coach Augustine Eguavoen has galvanized the squad.

With EPL stars such as Kelechi Iheanacho, Wilfred Ndidi, and Alex Iwobi leading the charge, the Nigerians are looking seriously strong.

Ivory Coast (6.00)

Ivory Coast capped off an unbeaten group-stage campaign by dumping defending champion Algeria out of the competition. The Elephants trampled the Fennec Foxes on Thursday, claiming a 3-1 victory to top Group E.

Nicolas Pepe scored a goal and created another in the win over Algeria. The Arsenal winger has chalked up three goal involvements so far. Only one player – Aboubakar – has registered more.

The Ivorians won AFCON 2015 but failed to make it past the quarter-finals in each of the previous two editions of the tournament. They have set the foundations for another successful campaign this year.

Morocco (6.50)

Morocco picked up seven points from a possible nine in Group C, beating Ghana and Comoros before drawing with Gabon. Vahid Halilhodzic’s men scored five goals across their three group games, achieving two shutouts for good measure.

The Atlas Lions’ sole AFCON triumph came all the way back in 1976. Since then, however, they have only made it past the quarter-finals on one occasion – losing the 2004 final to Tunisia.

That said, the current crop of Moroccan players is among the best the country has even seen. Stars like Achraf Hakimi (PSG), Youssef En-Nesyri (Sevilla), and Romain Saiss (Wolves) operate in Europe’s elite leagues, giving Morocco a genuine chance of winning silverware.

AFCON 2021 Outsiders to Keep an Eye On

There are several teams outside the bookmakers’ group of favorites to keep an eye on. Below, I examine five outsiders that could be worth backing ahead of the knockout phase.

Egypt (11.00)

It feels slight strange classing Egypt as on “outsider.” But with five teams ahead of the Pharaohs on the bookies’ AFCON 2021 odds list, they are no longer among the favorites to lift the trophy.

The seven-time champs lost to Nigeria in their opening match before claiming narrow 1-0 wins over Guinea-Bissau and Sudan. Having finished second in Group D, they face a tricky test against Group E winner Ivory Coast in the round of 16.

We all know that Mohamed Salah is capable of winning games singlehandedly. However, the 2022 Ballon d’Or candidate will need his teammates to step up in order to get past Ivory Coast and beyond.

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Mali (13.00)

Granted, Mali was placed in a favorable group. But Mohamed Magassouba’s men must be given credit for their results. In addition to a draw with Gambia, they beat Tunisia and Mauritania without conceding goal to finish atop Group F.

The Eagles’ squad is stacked with top players. Yves Bissouma (Brighton), Amadou Haidara (RB Leipzig), Mohamed Camara (Red Bull Salzburg), Diadie Samassekou (Hoffenheim), and Moussa Djenepo (Southampton) make them a serious threat.

Mali comes up against Equatorial Guinea in the round of 16. Equatorial Guinea is priced at 251.00 to win the title, meaning Mali will almost certainly reach the quarter-finals.

Tunisia (21.00)

Tunisia scraped into the knockout phase as one of the best third-placed teams. The 2004 champions were beaten by Mali and Gambia in Group F, advancing thanks to a 4-0 victory over Mauritania.

The Tunisians are ranked #30 in the world, with Senegal (#20), Morocco (#28), and Algeria (#29) the only African teams above them in the FIFA World Rankings. If they can perform to the best of their ability, they could upset the Africa Cup of Nations odds.

Burkina Faso (41.00)

If you didn’t know already, Burkina Faso is a rising force in African soccer. After reaching the AFCON 2013 final, they finished third in 2017 – cementing their status as serious contenders.

The Stallions endured a tricky time in Group A. Despite pushing Cameroon all the way, they lost to the hosts in their first match. However, they bounced back with a victory over Cape Verde before drawing with Ethiopia.

Led by Bayer Leverkusen defender Edmond Tapsoba and Aston Villa winger Bertrand Traore so don’t be surprised to see Burkina Faso in the latter stages of the tournament.

Equatorial Guinea (251.00)

If you’re feeling lucky and fancy a super-longshot punt, you may be interested in Equatorial Guinea. The minnows were expected to finish rock bottom of Group E but ended up beating Algeria and Sierra Leone to finish second!

Yes, Juan Micha’s men are priced at 251.00 for a reason. They did reach the semi-finals in 2015, though, meaning you can’t write them off altogether when it comes to betting on the winner of AFCON 2021.

Betting on the AFCON 2021 Knockouts

As it stands, Cameroon and Nigeria look like the best bets to win the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations. I’d be lying if I said that Senegal has impressed me so far.

With Aboubakar scoring goals for run, the hosts will be confident of beating anyone. As for the Super Eagles, they were the only team to win all three of their group games – meaning they carry a ton of momentum into the knockout phase.

Ivory Coast and Morocco look dangerous, too. They both have star-studded squads that are more than capable of going deep into the competition.

Having won a record seven titles, you would be foolish to disregard Egypt as well. Spearheaded by world-beater Mohamed Salah, the Pharaohs will fancy their chances of adding another AFCON crown to their collection.

It is worth noting that six different teams have won the past six AFCON titles. With that in mind, backing an outsider to lift the trophy is not a bad idea at all.

Head over to our soccer blog for more content like this.

Ben Morris
Ben Morris

Ben is a sportswriter and tipster who specializes in soccer. Currently based in the UK, he has traveled all around the world watching – and betting on – his beloved sport.

Alongside his regular soccer content, Ben publishes blogs and picks for cricket, Formula 1, Aussie rules, darts, and various other sports.

Ben is a diehard fan of Nottingham Forest and England, so he hasn’t had much to cheer about in recent years!

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