The quarter-finals of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations take place over the weekend and the tournament looks as difficult to call as ever.
With Algeria and holders Ivory Coast two of the big names to be eliminated in the group stage, the biennial event appears extremely open.
Senegal currently lead the betting at 21/10 and impressed in taking seven points on their way to topping Group B.
The spine of their team is top drawer, with Kalidou Koulibaly, Cheikhou Kouyate and Sadio Mane giving them class while Keita Balde, Moussa Sow and Mohamed Diame offer quality elsewhere.
A first continental title could be on the cards for Les Lions de la Teranga, but it is by no means a done deal. They are due to face Cameroon in the quarters who themselves cannot be counted out at 9/1.
However, their squad looks unbalanced and even without their controversial-yet-talented stars of the past, they often struggle for squad harmony and consistency at major tournaments.
Five-time winners Ghana are the 11/2 second favourites and are another team with an abundance of quality although they have work to do after finishing second in Group D courtesy of a defeat to Egypt.
Their squad’s ability is undoubted although this is a group of players who have often fallen short in the past and face one of the surprise packages in the quarters, the DR Congo.
The Leopards topped a pool that also included Morocco, holders Ivory Coast and Togo, and they also have plenty of recognisable names.
However, it is Junior Kabananga who has caught the eye as the tournament’s top scorer, with three goals, and despite their tricky last-eight tie, 12/1 for the Congolese to win the 2017 AFCON appears a huge price.
Egypt also look good at 13/2 and have arguably the competition’s best player in Mohamed Salah. The seven-time winners may not be as star-studded as in the past, but their collective strength could be enough to see them through
They face fellow North Africans Morocco (17/2) in the last eight, a team who have quality, but perhaps not enough to go all the way. Tunisia (13/2) also have a smattering of talent, but may not have what is required to win the tournament.
They should have the strength to get past tournament outsiders Burkina Faso, with Les Etalons a sizeable 16/1 to be crowned champions despite topping their group.
Senegal are rightly the favourites although experience tells us nothing can ever be taken for granted in the AFCON.
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