The Africa Cup of Nations concludes on Friday and it should do so with an excellent final between two sides who are up there with the best in the continent right now as Senegal and Algeria fight it out for the title.
These two teams have looked head and shoulders the best two in the competition and so it is fitting that they have made it through to the final. Based on what we’ve seen from them thus far, we should get a great encounter.
You would have to suggest that Senegal are in the middle of a decent run of things in major tournaments at the present time. They made it through to the World Cup last summer and have safely negotiated their way into the final of this tournament, and a win here will see them confirm their liking for tournament play. What I’ve liked about Senegal in this tournament is how they have held their nerve and that comes from the experience they have gained.
The other impressive thing about the Senegalese has been how they have yet to concede in the knockout stages of the tournament and with the attacking potential that they have at their disposal that should give them plenty of confidence. We might not have seen the best of their attacking mite yet but we know it exists and now would be a decent time to showcase it.
I’ve said a couple of times that Algeria have been the best team in the tournament to date and I am seriously kicking myself for not taking them to win the event when I shelved them for Morocco for an outright pick. They have won every match in the 90 minutes bar one in this event and they would have won that in regulation play had they not missed a penalty, so the Algerians must be brimming with confidence going into this final.
Algeria possess a lot of quality in front of goal, and while there is a feeling you can get at them more than you can Senegal, they haven’t exactly shipped regularly in this tournament. Often big finals are won by key match winners and you look down this Algeria side and it is absolutely full of them, which is another thing which should serve them well in this title decider.
Senegal will have to battle it out in this final without key central defender Kalidou Koulibaly as he accumulated a second yellow card of the tournament in the semi-final. He will now serve a suspension as a result.
Algeria have reported no new problems going into this match so we should probably expect them to be unchanged from the side which started against Nigeria in the semi-final last time out. Riyad Mahrez will be their talisman again.
These two have already met in this tournament and it was Algeria that won the day on that occasion and I think it will be them who come out on top here too. If this was a level game initially, it has to slant in the favour of Algeria with the news that Koulibaly will be missing for Senegal. He is their defensive rock and there is a little more vulnerability about them in his absence.
Algeria have impressed me so much in the competition so far, especially when they get the ball down and go forward with it, and while I would expect a tight final just purely because of the work gone in to get there, I do expect Algeria to come out on top in it. The 19/20 on them to lift the trophy looks like a decent bet to me in case it takes them a little longer than the 90 minutes to get the job done.
WON – Back Algeria to lift the trophy for a 4/10 stake at 1.91 with Bet365