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By The Numbers: Bets Players At AFCON Round 1 Of Group Stages

Match Day 1 of the Africa Cup of Nations finished on Wednesday evening with the two remaining games of Group F.

African Cup of Nations

Match Day 1 of the Africa Cup of Nations finished on Wednesday evening with the two remaining games of Group F. The 34th edition of the tournament has seen a lot of surprising results so far with some big-name teams yet to get going. Nigeria drew 1-1 with Equatorial Guinea in their opening game, Egypt had to come back late to rescue a point in their 2-2 opener against Mozambique, while Ghana were left to settle for a 2-1 defeat against Cape Verde Islands. Elsewhere, Namibia shocked Tunisia to get their first-ever win, and Angola held 2019 finalists Algeria to a 1-1 draw.

The tournament has been a thrilling spectacle of skill and talent, with players from various nations making a significant impact on the pitch. After Match Day 1, several players have stood out with impressive statistics, showcasing their prowess in different aspects of the game. Sample size matters, and it is important to note that while one round of games may help describe player performances, it may hold little predictive value. Let’s dig in.

Victor Osimhen

Napoli striker Victor Osimhen delivered a stellar performance, showcasing his attacking instinct and clinical finishing. Osimhen managed an impressive six shots (no player had more on Matchday 1), with two on target, resulting in one goal. What’s even more remarkable he had an Expected Goals (xG) value of 1.95, highlighting the quality of chances he managed to be at the end of. Osimhen’s ability to find space and take good shots will undoubtedly play a crucial role in Nigeria’s success.

Peter Shalulile

Joining Osimhen with 6 shots at goal after Match Day One is a player well-known to DSTV Premiership fans – Namibian striker Peter Shalulile. While not scoring in their opener, he demonstrated that he can take shots when he is presented with opportunities in front of goal. The Sundowns forward took six shots, with three on target, resulting in an xG of 1.11.

Other Dangerous Frontmen

Expected Goals (xG) is a metric that evaluates the quality of shots a player or team has during a match. Matchday1 xG stats show that Osimhen had a very productive Matchday1. His xG of 1.95 from six shots indicates the high-quality chances he was at the end of as they drew with Equatorial Guinea. Brentford forward Yoane Wissa was 2nd highest with chances worth 1.29xG for the DRC. Garry Rodrigues (Cape Verde Islands) played only 22 minutes, took three shots, and scored one goal for the third highest xG (1.28) of Match Day 1. Morocco’s Youseff En-Nesyri (1.23), Peter Shalulile (1.11) & Ghana’s Ransford Konigsdorffer (1.1Xg) round of the top 6 players whose chances were worth at least one goal.

Lamien Camara

Senegal’s Lamine Camara had a memorable outing, converting both of his two shots on target into goals. Camara’s clinical finishing played a pivotal role in securing a victory for his team against Gambia. In the end, his performances even earned him Man of the Match.

Mo Salah Co-leads In Chances Created

Chances created were aplenty in these matches, with five players each contributing four chances to their teams. These were Mohamed Salah (Egypt), Georges-Kevin Nkoudou (Cameroon), and Alfa Semedo (Guinea-Bissau). Since his AFCON debut in 2017, Mohamed Salah has been directly involved in 67% of Egypt’s goals in the competition (10/15 – 6 goals, 4 assists). The Congolese pair of Gael Kakuta and Theo Bongoda stand out, particularly since both players created four chances for one team in the same game. Moreover, the two players also had four shots each.

Ademola Lookman

xA or Expected assists is another measure of play-making ability, showing the value of players’ final passes before shots were taken, whether or not the receiver of the pass scores. Ademola Lookman of Nigeria and Cedric Bakambu demonstrated their creative abilities with an xA (Expected Assists) of 0.58, (with 1 assist both). Azzeddine Ounahi (MOTM for Morroco) and Gael Kakuta were next best with an xA output of 0.43 in their games.

Aubrey Modiba

Bafana Bafana, Gambia, Tanzania & Guinea-Bissau were the only four teams to lose by a margin greater than one goal. Even in defeat, Aubrey Modiba was one of the standout players in defensive metrics, making 12 ball recoveries in the game, more than any other player on Matchday 1. The Downs defender was a constant figure in the game, enjoying more touches than any other player on the field (87).

Other notable players

Cameroonian Georges-Kevin Nkoudou had a productive Match Day 1 with four chances created and eight take-ons attempted with Tunisian Elias Achouri attempting seven in their match against Namibia. DRC’s Theo Bongonda had four carries in the game (moving 5+ metres upfield with the ball), more than any other player on Matchday 1 – with two of them ending in a shot, and two ending in chances created for teammates.

*Data from OptaAnalyst

Sean Parker is a motorsport journalist and sports content creator at The South African. He has worked for the country's premier motoring publications, and is a Formula 1 contributor to, the Bet Central podcast, and Vision View Sports radio.

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