Our football writer previews matchday two of the 2018 CAF World Cup qualifiers.
The second round of the African World Cup Qualifiers will kick off this weekend with several mouth-watering encounters lined up.
The big matches include South Africa against Senegal, Cameroon taking on Zambia, Morocco hosting Ivory Coast, Egypt going up against Ghana, while the clash between Nigeria and Algeria is arguably the biggest. Great football to watch and also lots of money to be made.
Friday 11 November
6/1 Libya | Draw 29/10 | Tunisia 9/20
Libya were thrashed 4-0 by DR Congo in their opening Group A qualifier and they’ll face another tough test against Tunisia.
The Eagles of Carthage eased to a 2-0 victory over Guinea, which saw them go second on the table – behind DR Congo on goal difference. That was their third successive win and extended their unbeaten run to five games. These sides met in October 2015 in a friendly which Tunisia won 1-0. The away win is tipped confidently.
Saturday 12 November
19/20 Uganda | Draw 22/10 | Congo 31/10
Uganda earned a commendable 0-0 draw in Ghana in their opening Group E clash, thanks to an outstanding performance from Mamelodi Sundowns goalkeeper Denis Onyango. The Cranes will be beaming with confidence and looking to secure maximum points against Congo.
The Red Devils suffered a 2-1 home defeat to Egypt in their group opener. They are yet to win on their travels in 2016 with back-to-back losses. Uganda have won their last three home meetings against Congo and are tipped to oust their opponents.
6/10 Cameroon | Draw 28/10 | Zambia 17/4
A goal from Benjamin Moukandjo secured a valuable draw against Algeria in their World Cup qualifier in Blida. Despite conceding an early goal, the Indomitable Lions held their own against the group favourites and deserved their point.
They’ll be targeting three points against Zambia, who were beaten 2-1 at home by Nigeria. Cameroon are unbeaten in their last five meetings with Chipolopolo, winning four times. The home win is the way to go.
14/10 Nigeria | Draw 22/10 | Algeria 19/10
This match promises to be a cracking encounter in a fiercely contested Group B. Nigeria top the group with three points following their 2-1 away victory over Zambia. The Super Eagles will be hoping to make it two wins on the spin but they’ll face a difficult battle against Algeria.
The Desert Warriors failed to kick off their qualifying campaign with a win after throwing away their lead to draw 1-1 at home to Cameroon. They’ll be desperate to pick up their first group win. Riyad Mahrez, Islam Slimani headline fearsome Algeria selection. Their record against the Super Eagles is a concern though. Nigeria are unbeaten in their last seven meetings with Algeria, winning six times. With home advantage – along with the likes of Victor Moses, Alex Iwobi, John Mikel Obi, Ahmed Musa and Kelechi Iheanacho – Nigeria are tipped on the win/draw Double Chance at 4/10.
12/10 Cape Verde | Draw 43/20 | Burkina Faso 24/10
Cape Verde will be aiming to secure their first points in Group D after losing their opening qualifier 2-0 away to group favourites Senegal. That was the Blue Sharks’ fourth defeat from their last five matches which is a worry for their hopes of qualifying for Russia 2018. Burkina Faso snatched a dramatic 1-1 draw with South Africa after wasting two penalties.
The Stallions, hoping to qualify for their first World Cup, will look to the likes of Jonathan Pitroipa and the Traore brothers – Alain and Bertrand. Not much separates them in the FIFA rankings with Burkina Faso ranked 67th and Cape Verde in 71st place. A tight affair is expected with the teams tipped to cancel each other out.
11/10 Mali | Draw 23/10 | Gabon 49/20
Mali will be desperate to pick up their first points in Group C and will be hopeful of doing so against Gabon, who are ranked 35th in Africa. The Eagles lost their group opener 3-1 to Ivory Coast, while Gabon played out a goalless draw at home to Morocco. Mali, ranked 9th in Africa, were in good form prior to their loss at Ivory Coast and will look to bounce back strongly.
Gabon have won just two from their last 11 games, suffering six defeats. The Panthers have lost five of their seven travels this year, winning just once. They’ll rely on star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who scored four goals in Borussia Dortmund’s 5-2 win at Hamburg last weekend. However, their defence is weak and I’m backing Mali to pick up maximum points.
1/1 Morocco | Draw 47/20 | Ivory Coast 26/10
Morocco played out a goalless draw with Gabon in their opening Group C clash and coach Herve Renard will come up against Ivory Coast – who he led to 2015 Africa Cup of Nations success. The Atlas Lions are unbeaten in nine games with six wins. Their last defeat came against Ivory Coast in the beginning of the year and they’ll be looking to exact their revenge.
The Elephants secured a 3-1 win over Mali, moving them to the top of Group C. The African champions, eyeing a fourth successive World Cup appearance, are unbeaten in their last seven meetings against Morocco with five wins. The away team are tipped to edge their opponents.
Sunday 13 November
21/20 Egypt | Draw 9/4 | Ghana 51/20
Egypt occupy top spot in Group E with three points following their 2-1 win away to Congo. The Pharaohs will be going all out to make it two wins in a row against Ghana, which will put them in a good position to qualify for Russia 2018. Their squad is headed by Roma winger Mohamed Salah and Arsenal midfielder Mohamed Elneny.
Ghana were held to a surprise 0-0 draw at home to Uganda and they’ll be desperate to win this game. The Black Stars are winless in their last four matches, drawing three times – including two in a row. Avram Grant’s side have won just two of their last 12 meetings against the Pharaohs, losing eight times. This is going to be a close affair but I’m going to back Egypt on the win/draw Double Chance at 1/4, although they’re worth a punt at 21/20.
18/10 Guinea | Draw 22/10 | DR Congo 15/10
Guinea succumbed to a 2-0 defeat away to Tunisia in their opening World Cup qualifier. The National Elephants will face another difficult test against DR Congo, who top Group A thanks to a 4-0 thrashing of Libya.
These sides last met in February this year in the African Nations Championship. DR Congo beat Guinea on penalties in the semi-finals after the match had ended 0-0 in regulation and 1-1 after extra time. DR Congo are ranked 7th on the continent, seven places above Guinea in the Africa rankings. Back the away win at 15/10.
TREBLE @ 11/2
Tunisia Win (6/10)
Cameroon Win (13/20)
Ivory Coast Win (29/20)
Written by Chadley Nagel @Hollywoodbets