The African Cup of Nations has reached the quarter finals in South Africa and the hosts see themselves in a match up with Mali on Saturday evening. The Bafana Bafana are the favourites to progress to the semi-finals for the first time since 2000 where they lost to Nigeria before going on to beat Tunisia on penalties to officially finish that tournament in third place. Bookmaker Paddy Power have the hosts as their 11/8 favourites to win the match in 90 mins whilst they are odds on 4/6 to qualify.
Mali were third last year and were tipped up to win this year by this column before the tournament. However, they haven't been too impressive in qualifying for the quarter-finals, finishing behind Nigeria in Group B. PaddyPower make Mali 2/1 to win Saturday's quarter final whilst they are 11/10 to qualify.
South Africa have the superior record in this competition historically, although this year is the first time they have qualified for the knockout stages since 2000. In fact, the South Africans didn't qualify for either of the last two renewals of this competition and were banned up until 1994 due to Apartheid. They won the tournament in 1996 and were runners up two years later during a golden period for Bafana Bafana. Today's team doesn't have much in the way of household names, with perhaps defender and captain Khumalo Bongani their most recognisable of players, who had an unsuccessful spell at Tottenham.
The South Africans topped Group A on goal difference from Cape Verde, having won against angola and picked up draws with Morocco and the Cape Verde. There was a concern over where the goals would come for Bafana Bafana after a 0-0 draw in their opener against Cape Verdi, but Siyabonga Sangweni chipped in with a goal in both the 2-0 win over Angola and he scored the late equalisier in the 2-2 draw with Morocco which ensured their safe passage to the quarter finals. The Orlando Pirates defender is useful from set pieces and form suggests that might be the South African's best chance of a goal and he's a 16/1 shot to open the scoring on Saturday which looks fair value with Ladbrokes.
Mali qualified for the quarter finals thanks to finishing second in Group B. The Eagles won their opening match with Niger which eventually proved to be the difference between them and the third place Congo. A 1-0 defeat against Ghana who topped the group was followed by a 1-1 draw with Congo where there really wasn't much between the two sides. Goalscoring again looks like being a concern for Mali, having netted just twice in their three games so far. Their captain and talisman Seydou Keita slid in to score the winner in their opener against Niger and striker Mahamadou Samassa scored the equaliser against Congo.
Mali certainly have more European based players in their squad, Samassa plays for Chievo in Italy and the likes of Mo Sissoko of PSG and Diakite of QPR give the side a very solid base in Midfield. Modiba Maiga of West Ham has been used to effect on the win whilst former Seydou Keita represents their biggest goal threat and is 8/1 to score first on Saturday with Ladbrokes.
Paddy Power offer money back on losing first, last, anytime goalscorer and correct score bets if the game ends 0-0 on Saturday, so with that kind of insurance it's worth having a bet in those markets. It's far from unfeasible that both teams will cancel each other out, although on paper, Mali look the stronger and could defy the odds of 2/1 to win the match. However, for a little extra value, you might be better off backing them to win on penalties at 17/2. In fact, we wouldn't put you off backing both teams to win on penalties at 17/2.
South African v Mali Tips
Tip #1: The draw @ odds of 9/4 with PaddyPower.com.
Tip #2: Mali to win on pens and South Africa to win on pens both @ odds of 17/2 with PaddyPower.com.
Tip #3: Siyabonga Sangweni to score the first goal @ odds of 16/1 at Ladbrokes.com.
11/8 South Africa
Correct Score Odds
11/2 South Africa 1-0
9/1 South Africa 2-0
9/1 South Africa 2-1
11/2 Draw 0-0
9/2 Draw 1-1
14/1 Draw 2-2
7/1 Mali 1-0
13/1 Mali 2-0
12/1 Mali 2-1
First Goalscorer Odds - (odds supplied by Ladbrokes.com)
5/1 Katlego Mphela
6/1 Bernard Parker
7/1 Cheick Diabate
7/1 Lehlohonolo Majoro
7/1 Mamadou Samassa
7/1 Tokelo Rantie
7/1 Lerato Chambangu
8/1 Modibo Maiga
8/1 Seydou Keita
10/1 Siphiwe Tshabalala
10/1 Thulani Serero
Odds supplied by PaddyPower.com, plus up to 100 other markets on this match and all AFCON fixtures, including live betting in-running.
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