World Cup 2018: African team previews, tips and predictions for first round group games
With the World Cup finally here, there are 64 games to enjoy, analyse and try to profit from. Over the first five days of the World Cup, four teams from Africa will take to the pitch as they look to hit the ground running.
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On Friday (15 June), Egypt start their third World Cup campaign against two-time winners Uruguay. The Egyptians, who are seven-time African champions, are being widely tipped to make it out of Group A and into the knock-out stages.
They are priced at just 2.50 to qualify from the group, but at 7.50 to top the four teams. In Hector Cuper they have an experienced coach, but there is a very real danger they will be overly reliant on star forward Mo Salah. Who will be missing from this game as he continues to recover from a shoulder injury.
In this first game, however, Egypt go in as serious underdogs. They are priced at a long 7.00 to pick up three points, whereas their South American opponents come in at a short 1.61 to make a winning start in Russia.
On the same day, Morocco and Iran get Group B up and running in St. Petersburg. In a tough group which includes European champions Portugal and 2010 World Cup winners Spain, Morocco would appear to have only an outside chance of reaching the round of 16.
That makes this game all the more important to Morocco’s already slim chances of progress. If they are to give themselves hope then they need to take three points against Iran, the weakest side they will face in the group.
Morocco are priced at 4.00 to qualify for the knock-out phase, but their odds for their World Cup opener are much better. They are priced at just 2.30 to take all three points, while Iran at 3.90, according to Oddsshark.
A 2-0 win for the Moroccans is priced at 8.50 and would set them up nicely for their two remaining group games. Forward Ayoub El Kaabi may well be their best chance of a goal, and is priced at 6.50 to either score first or last, or 3.40 to score at any time.
The following day, Nigeria get their World Cup challenge started against Croatia. The Super Eagles have already played one tournament this year, having reached the final of the African Cup of Nations back in January.
However, they are at a long price to repeat that feat. If you fancy Nigeria to become the first African side to ever reach a World Cup final then you can back that hunch at 67.00.
But recent form would look to be against the Nigerian side. Since losing the African Cup of Nations final to Morocco 4-0, their performances have been on a downward trajectory.
Nigeria have lost games to Serbia, Atlético Madrid, Serbia and England. The side have been leaking goals, and you can back there being over 2.5 goals in this game at 2.25, while under 2.5 goals comes in at 1.61.
Looking at the simplest bet you can make, the outcome of the game, the odds are clearly stacked against Nigeria. The African side come in at 5.75 to make a winning start to their World Cup campaign, whereas Croatia are priced at just 1.72.
And on the Monday (18 June), Tunisia start their World Cup quest against a young England side. England and Belgium look to be the two strongest competitors in Group G, which means Tunisia will have their work cut out for them if they harbour any hopes of reaching the round of 16.
Tunisia are at 5.00 to make it out of the group, but the price drops drastically to just 1.16 for them to fall at the first hurdle. Tunisia of course played England in their first game at the 1998 World Cup in France, losing by a 2-0 score line – the same result here has a price of 5.50.
Looking at the basic outcome, England are at just 1.44 to take three points in this one, whereas Tunisia are all the way out at 9.00. The Three Lions also have no fewer than eight players with shorter odds to score than any Tunisian player.
Harry Kane is at 3.60 to score first or last, and just 1.83 to find the back of the net during the 90 minutes, with Leicester City forward Jamie Vardy at exactly the same price. Lyon forward Anice Badri is the best chance Tunisia have, and is priced at a long 17.00 to score first or last, and at 7.00 to score during the game.
And finally, Poland and Senegal play on Tuesday, 19 June. This is the first time Senegal have qualified for the World Cup since 2002, and having been drawn in a fairly favourable group have every chance of making the round of 16.
Having been drawn alongside Poland, Colombia and Japan, the Africans will fancy their chances of finishing in the top two. They are priced at 2.25 to qualify and 5.50 to win Group H.
They come into their opening match against Poland as slight underdogs however, Senegal are at 3.30 to take all three points, while their European opponents are at 2.40.
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