Saturday 22 June: 6pm KO
Live on Eurosport
Nigeria are one of the favourites to win this year’s African Cup of Nations. They are in Group B along with Guinea and Madagascar and should comforably reach the knock-out stages. Nigeria’s opening opponents are Burundi who are taking part in their first finals and include a player very familiar to British football fans.
Nigeria are one of the most successful African countries and have won this tournament on three occasions. Their last victory was in 2013 and they have also reached the finals of the last three World Cup tournaments. They are one of the favourites for this 2019 African Cup of Nations and can be backed at odds of 9/1 (10.0) at William Hill.
Nigeria have been drawn in Group B and their only real opposition is Guinea. You can get 4/7 at Bet365 on them winning this group. They had gone eight games unbeaten before losing a friendly to Senegal who are the second favourites (7/1 (8.0) at SkyBet) to win this tournament.
They have a great record in the African Cup of Nations, but that’s not been the case since that win in 2013. Nigeria failed to qualify for both the 2015 and 2017 finals but this time around they edged out South Africa by a point to win Group E and qualify.
Their defence is strong with three clean sheets in the last five matches. The odds on them keeping a clean sheet in this game are 1/2 (1.5) at Ladbrokes. The Nigerian team are ranked 45th in the world and that’s 89 places above their opponents. It’s 4/11 (1.36) at BetVictor that they begin this tournament with a win.
With 24 places available in this tournament some of the lower-ranked African teams have reached these finals. Burundi who are ranked 134th in the world are playing in their first African Cup of Nations finals. They nearly qualified in 1994 but lost out in a penalty shoot-out. They are 200/1 (201.0) at Paddy Power to win this tournament. It’s 25/1 (26.0) at William Hill that they win Group B.
Burundi owe their qualification for these finals to a couple of wins over South Sudan (ranked 168th in the world). They beat them twice and drew their other four games to qualify as Group C runners-up behind Mali. One of the wins over South Sudan took place back in 2017 as the group was contested for nearly two years.
They have only won two of their last 14 games, one against South Sudan and the other over Ethiopia (ranked 150th). Last September saw Saido Berahino make his international debut for them and scored the only goal of their game against Gabon.
Stoke City and West Brom fans won’t be surprised by the next sentence. Since that goal he’s failed to score in his next six matches. With five goals in his last 61 league appearances, Berahino (who had previously represented England at several levels) is 7/1 (8.0) to score in this match.
Burundi are 11/1 (12.0) to win this match but their main focus in this group will be to beat Madagascar. That could just get them into the knock-out stages as one of the top third-placed teams.
The two countries have just the one previous meeting. That was back in 1999 when Nigeria ran out 2-0 victors. If you go to Betfred, they will give you odds of 4/1 (5.0) on that score being repeated in this second meeting.
Nigeria left the Leicester City striker Kelechi Iheanacho out of their squad for this tournament.
The last eight games in which Nigeria have scored has seen them hit the back of the net in the first half. Six of those matches saw them score in the first 15 minutes. It’s 21/5 (5.2) that Nigeria will be leading this match after the first quarter of an hour.
Nigeria are the worthy favourites to win this game. They aren’t the highest of scorers but should have few problems getting on the scoresheet against lowly Burundi. A bet on Nigeria winning and over 1.5 goals in the game has odds of 4/5 (1.8) at Ladbrokes.