Who are the favorites and the outside bets to win the CAN-22?
As the football world eagerly awaits the kickoff of the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) in Cameroon on January 9, FRANCE 24 takes a look at favorites and away bets in the battle for the trophy.
Twenty-four national teams will compete in the CAN but only one can win the crown. Here are the favorites as well as some of the often overlooked contenders vying for the win:
Algeria are the favorites to take and claim their second consecutive CAN triumph after winning the tournament last time, in 2019. They won the 2022 CAN and World Cup qualifiers in December – with four wins and two draws in both cases. Benefiting from one of the greatest players in Africa with Manchester City winger Riyad Mahrez, Djamel Belmadi’s team fly high on a streak of 33 consecutive games without defeat in all competitions.
Even without their Europe-based players – most of their top talent, including Mahrez – Algeria won the FIFA Arab Cup in Qatar in November and December, including impressive performances from winger Youcef Belaili and midfielder. offensive midfielder Yacine Brahimi. Nonetheless, as football fans have long observed in many tournaments, favorite status often creates the burden of high expectations.
The Teranga Lions, as they are nicknamed, have been recognized as one of the most formidable forces in African football since their famous victory over France – the powerful Blues of Thierry Henry and Patrick Viera – at the 2002 World Cup. At each CAN, Senegal is presented as one of the favorites to win the trophy.
After losing narrowly to Algeria in the CAN-19 final, Aliou Cissé’s men are serious contenders to realize their much-acclaimed potential and win their very first trophy – especially since they own the one of the most impressive talents with superstar Liverpool. winger Sadio Mané, Chelsea goalkeeper Édouard Mendy and Napoli central defender Kalidou Koulibaly.
Cameroon caught the attention of football fans by becoming the first African team to reach the quarter-finals of the World Cup in 1990, losing only to the famous England team of Bobby Robson. They lack the big stars of their rivals, but Cameroon’s opponents will be wary of the home advantage they enjoy.
In any case, the Portuguese coach of Cameroon Antonio Conceicao is not afraid to set very high expectations with his wish to reach “at least” the final.
The Pharaohs are eternal favorites to win the CAN for two reasons. The first is that they have historically been the most successful team in the Africa Cup of Nations – winning the trophy seven times, including three in a row in 2006, 2008 and 2010.
The second reason is Mo Salah. The Liverpool forward is one of the greatest players in the world right now – some would say the best striker in football right now. After winning the Champions League and the Premiership with his club Liverpool, Salah has every interest in propelling Egypt to CAN glory.
Morocco have proven to be a force to watch after showing a remarkably successful defensive formation in the CAN qualifiers – conceding just one goal – and a formidable attack in the World Cup qualifiers – scoring 20 goals; the second best count behind Algeria.
Morocco’s strength is such that coach Vahid Halilhodzic was able to eliminate some of his best players, namely Hakim Ziyech from Chelsea, Noussair Mazraoui from Ajax and Amine Harit from Marseille without affecting their performances.
The Carthage Eagles, as they are known, look like a solid away bet to win the CAN-22 after notching the best qualifying performance of any team with 16 points (five wins and one draw). Coach Mondher Kebaier had good performances from the squad – leading them to the FIFA Arab Cup final – but while Tunisia can roll to victory over middle teams, they have often struggled against big teams. . If Kebaier is to meet the high expectations of supporters and bring Tunisia to their second CAN victory since winning in 2004, he will have to push them through this psychological barrier.
Mali have a young and enthusiastic squad and a highly respected manager in the form of Mohamed Magassouba, impressive performances, an impeccable record in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers and – above all – an iron defense. All these elements make them strong candidates to surprise and return from Cameroon with the CAN trophy.
Côte d’Ivoire is a completely different team than the one that won the Africa Cup of Nations in 2015. Mainstays Yaya Touré, Kolo Touré and Copa Barry are all gone.
Now a rejuvenated and equally gifted side have taken their place – with a magnificent attack centered around Crystal Palace star Wilfried Zaha, arguably the best Premier League player not in one of the big six clubs, and the Ajax striker Sébastien Haller, currently the best in the Champions League. scorer.
With Arsenal winger Nicolas Pépé running some meteoric runs and whipping crosses while AC Milan’s Franck Kessié holds the fort in the central midfielder, Ivory Coast will have plenty of scared defenders in Cameroon.
They are a young team hungry for victory, who see no reason to wait until the tournament is played at home in 2023 before claiming the trophy.
This article has been translated from the original into French.