African Cup of Nations: Atlas Lions ready to roar
African Cup of Nations: Atlas Lions ready to roar

African Cup of Nations: Atlas Lions ready to roar

Congo DR lead the way in Group C of the 2017 African Nations Cup going into the second round of fixtures but now face defending champions Ivory Coast, while Morocco must bounce back from an opening defeat when taking on Togo. Here are our best bets for Friday’s games: 

Ivory Coast to draw with Congo DR @ 11/5

The Leopards lost 3-1 to the Elephants in the semi-finals two years ago but this time have the benefit of an opening win over Morocco to settle their nerves. Congo DR showed great spirit to defend a lead on Monday, despite having Lomalisa Mutambala sent off and briefly dropping down to nine men while Gabriel Zakuani was injured. Similar courage could see them hold out for another crucial point.

Ivory Coast v Congo DR to be 1-1 @ 19/4

Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha looked quite lively on his international debut for Ivory Coast but overall it was a laboured display from the pre-tournament favourites when they were stifled by Togo. The Elephants drew their first two games 1-1 before going on to lift the trophy in 2015, though, and they may take the cautious route through to the knockout rounds again this time.

Morocco to beat Togo @ 17/20

The Atlas Lions have it all to do after losing their opening game but can take heart from the fact that they had plenty of chances against Congo DR. Coach Herve Renard knows what it takes to be successful at this tournament, having lifted the trophy with Ivory Coast and Zambia, and he will be aware that this is now a must-win match.

Morocco to beat Togo to nil @ 3/2

Togo upset the odds when holding Ivory Coast to a draw but the feeling was that it was down to a lacklustre effort from the defending champions, as much as resolute defending by the Sparrow Hawks. How much the inactive Emmanuel Adebayor has left to offer up front is questionable and taking Morocco to prevail without conceding makes sense to us.

Morocco to win by one goal @ 23/10

Resounding victories are rare during the group stage of the African Nations Cup, even when it appears that one team has a clear advantage. Only Senegal managed to prevail by a wider margin than one goal in eight first-round fixtures and Morocco may settle for just getting the job done here.