AFCON 2015, Group B: Cape Verde vs Zambia Preview

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Cape Verde vs Zambia | Monday 26 January | Ebebiyin | 20:00

Tunisia are out in front in Group B but qualification is by no means in the bag. Surprisingly, all sides in the group still have a legitimate chance of progression to the quarter-finals. Interestingly enough, these two sides met in an AFCON qualifier in September last year, where Cape Verde overcame a more fancied Chipolopolo side 2-1. This rematch will be under more intense circumstances, and will be a decider for both teams.

To Win (90mins)
Cape Verde 31/20
Draw 19/10
Zambia 18/10

Cape Verde Islands
Cape Verde are an impressive side for a country with a population of around 500 000 people. Their Portuguese roots mean football is a religion for the islanders and this showed in their impressive opening draw against fancied Tunisia. They managed a point against Congo DR, making them strong candidates for progression. It puts them only a point ahead of Zambia, but this may take the pressure off them to perform, allowing them to play their game freely. Unlike Zambia, Cape Verde have never come close to winning this tournament. They made their debut in South Africa in 2013 where they progressed to the quarter-finals from a tough group including the hosts, Morocco and Angola. They bowed out of the tournament following a 2-0 loss to Ghana. I’d like to see a relatively unknown entity make it through to the knockouts this year and based on their apparent team chemistry, they could well produce more upsets in the games to come.

Chipolopolo will most definitely do everything in their power to not only stand in the islanders’ way of progression, but do the utmost to make sure they get through to the knockout stages of a tournament they won not so long ago. It was in this very same host country that they lifted the title in 2012, overcoming tournament favourites Ivory Coast in an epic penalty shootout. Their scoring prowess of late hasn’t been all that great and you have to go back six games to an AFCON qualifier against minnows, Niger, to find the last time they managed to score more than once. They’ll have to hope that Tunisia win or draw against DR Congo, otherwise a win for Chipolopolo against Cape Verde will see them relying on goal difference for qualification.

VERDICT: Under 2.5 Goals 5/10
Something tells me that with both sides wanting a win to secure a spot in the next round so badly, this counteracts either side’s chance of getting three points. A draw should favour Cape Verde provided DR Congo don’t get a result against Tunisia, so you may well see more effort coming from the Zambians. I haven’t seen enough in the qualifying stages or their opening fixtures to warrant a punt on the former champions. I would rather look towards the under 2.5 goals market based on the predicted tight nature of the match, even if the price is rather short. The draw at 19/10 is value so have a strike if you’re feeling a bit brave.

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