African giants lock horns in the hope of booking their spot in Qatar, for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Grant de Smidt has made his predictions, coming up with best bets, alternative bets, and value bets for all Friday fixtures.
Feel free to use his betting tips for your weekend betting slip:
Congo DR v Morocco, Friday 17:00 S.A Time
Congo DR haven’t lost a home World Cup qualifier since 1998 with seven clean sheets in ten. Yoanne Wissa of Brentford FC netted against Liverpool this season and Dieumerci Mbokani scored four times in qualifying, albeit in a favourable group.
Morocco lost in extra time of the AFCON quarter-finals to Egypt to end a 31-match unbeaten run. Their last six away tournament qualifiers have seen five wins and a draw. They’ve kept five clean sheets in that run. A caveat: all six group matches were played at home due to political or infrastructure issues.
Key an eye out for Barcelona winger Abde Ezzalzouli who started matches for Blaugrana when Xavi was first appointed – he has received his first call-up to the Atlan Lions national team.
Cameroon v Algeria, Friday 19:00 S.A Time
The hosts have a new coach in Rigobert Song with former Marumo Gallants coach Sebastien Migne as number two. After falling short at the semi-final stage of the AFCON, the new mentor will lean heavily on Vincent Aboubakar, who netted eight goals at the tournament. Some mainstays have been dropped by the new coach.
Algeria were dumped out in the group stages of the AFCON as defending champions. They stuck with their coach but he has left out West Ham winger Said Benrahma and Al Sadd’s Baghdad Bounedjah, his side’s best striker (who was linked with Barcelona after Xavi’s appointment).
Cameroon have won nine of their last 11 matches in all competitions and are five unbeaten versus Algeria (W3, D2). They should win this by one goal but it will be a very fiercely fought match.
Mali v Tunisia, Friday 19:00 S.A Time
Mali have never made it to a World Cup. They boost one of the continent’s best midfielders now that Everton’s Abdoulaye Doucouré has switched nationality to partner Brighton’s Yves Bissouma.
The Eagles have a very strong backline with five wins to nil in their six group games in World Cup qualifying plus a 0-0 draw. This is despite playing home matches in Morocco. This tie will be held in Mali, which could mean a hostile crowd for the visitors.
Tunisia sacked head coach Mondher Kebaier after a quarter-final exit at the AFCON. Their last two away matches in the qualifying group saw a 0-0 draw against Mauritania and a 1-0 loss to Equatorial Guinea.
Egypt v Senagal, Friday 21:30 S.A Time
This is a repeat of the AFCON final where Senegal won on penalties. Once again, heartbreak awaits for one of Mohamed Salah or Sadio Mane.
Egypt doesn’t look particularly enterprising under the pragmatic Carlos Queiroz, who has seen a ban reduced and will be on the touchline for this match. Eight of their last nine matches have seen under 1.5 goals in total. The Pharaohs haven’t lost a home World Cup qualifier since 2004, winning 20 of 21 matches (one draw).
Senegal conceded just twice in seven matches at the AFCON and have arguably the continent’s best goalkeeper and best central defender to count on in Edouard Mendy and Kalidou Koulibaly. The Lions of Teranga have lost just once in 11 away World Cup qualifiers.
Ghana v Nigeria, Friday 21:30 S.A Time
Ghana scraped into the top spot in their World Cup qualifying group after a contentious penalty to win 1-0 in their final match against South Africa. A subsequent appeal by their opponents over the refereeing bore no fruit. They went to the AFCON and crashed out in the group stages.
This huge West African derby is expected to be a physical affair. The Black Stars left it to the last moment to announce a squad and a confirmed venue to play mind games with their opponents. Injury to Wilfred Ndidi is a blow for Nigeria as is Alex Iwobi’s suspension. The Super Eagles welcome back real pace and pedigree in attack in Odion Ighalo, Victor Osimhen, and Emmanuel Dennis after all three missed the AFCON.
Nigeria remarkably haven’t lost an away World Cup qualifier since 2004 (21 unbeaten on the road). Ghana haven’t lost since 2001 at home with the showpiece at stake. The extra firepower in the starting XI and from the bench for the visitors means they should have enough to score in this one.