Last week, we previewed the 2nd round of qualifying for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations in Morocco. The first leg is complete, and we’ll take a look at how things have changed.
Kenya v Lesotho
8/3/2014 – Nairobi, Kenya
What Happened: Despite being higher in our rankings, Kenya came out flat against a Lesotho side that was determined to prove that their recent form was no fluke. On 60 minutes, a man with one of the best names in qualifying, Bushi Moletsane tallied to give Lesotho the lead. They were able to keep the Harambee Stars off the board the rest of the way and now lead 1-0 on aggregate. This is a pretty disappointing result for Kenya, but there is still much time to be played.
Prediction: We thought this would be closer than our rankings indicated, and that certainly held true to form. With their backs against the wall, we think Kenya will come out victorious, but by how much. A 1 goal victory will at best send them to penalties. If Lesotho is able to score an away goal, Kenya will need 3 to advance. Our goal matrix likes Kenya by 2-0, but this will be a great 2nd leg.
Original Odds of Advancing: Kenya 75.66%, Lesotho 24.34%
Current Odds of Advancing: Kenya 45.37%, Lesotho 43.30%, Penalties 11.33%
Uganda v Mauritania
8/3/2014 – Nouakchott, Mauritania
What Happened: Unfortunately, our rankings failed us here. Uganda came away victorious by 2 goals in a certainly deserved win. Mauritania had allowed just 1 goal in their previous 7 matches, but have now allowed 5 in their last 2. Perhaps this is a case of weakened level of competition. Uganda now would have to have an abysmal meltdown to squander this lead.
Prediction: We still think that Mauritania can perhaps snatch a narrow victory in the return leg, but as you can see from our chart, it’s going to be extremely tough. Losing by 1 goal would have been manageable, but the 2nd goal was truly a dagger. The deck is stacked against Mauritania, who is striving to be eliminated from this competition for a 2nd time.
Original Odds of Advancing: Mauritania 59.54%, Uganda 40.46%
Current Odds of Advancing: Uganda 82.58%, Penalties 11.51%, Mauritania 5.92%
Congo v Rwanda
8/2/2014 – Kigali, Rwanda
What Happened: Unfortunately for Rwanda, on 66 minutes the flood gates were no longer able to hold as Congo broke through for 2 goals. Rwanda’s 4 match unbeaten streak was gone, and the positive steps the team took in defeating Libya were sent back just a bit. The road back now is treacherous.
Prediction: While we thought this was a fairly even match on paper, the performance from Congo showed they are the favorites to go through. We wouldn’t be surprised to see Congo hope to play this one out level. Even allowing a goal will be palatable if they can keep it at 1. It’s an extreme longshot for Rwanda at this point.
Original Odds of Advancing: Congo 54.78%, Rwanda 45.22%
Current Odds of Advancing: Congo 91.03%, Penalties 6.56%, Rwanda 2.41%
Botswana v Guinea-Bissau
8/2/2014 – Bissau, Guinea-Bissau
What Happened: Botswana got a brace from Lemponye Tshireletso. That was all the Zebras needed to put them in the driver’s seat. As an aside, pictures of some of the Botswana fans decked out in full Zebra spandex were alarming. But they support their team. It was always unlikely that Guinea-Bissau would pose much threat, but allowing 2 on the road should be the end.
Prediction: Botswana may come away from this match with yet another victory. They’re the better team and are really not in much danger of not qualifying. They just need to make sure that they’re not looking too far ahead to that difficult group that awaits them.
Original Odds of Advancing: Botswana 70.60%, Guinea-Bissau 29.40%
Current Odds of Advancing: Botswana 93.48%, Penalties 4.42%, Guinea-Bissau 2.09%
Sierra Leone v Seychelles
8/2/2014 – Victoria, Seychelles
What Happened: A similar result to Sierra Leone’s first round matchup against Swaziland. Took awhile to finally break through, but the Leone Stars were able to poach the Seychelles defense for two. This could’ve easily been a bigger blowout, but there were a number of missed chances.
Prediction: If Seychelles can get anything out of the return leg, it should be considered a victory. Group D is going to be pretty wild with Sierra Leone, DR Congo, Cameroon and Ivory Coast. Lots of firepower there. We think the Leone Stars bag a couple more goals. Hopefully it doesn’t take 55 minutes to put it in this time… That’s what she said.
Original Odds of Advancing: Sierra Leone 89.71%, Seychelles 10.29%
Current Odds of Advancing: Sierra Leone 99.16%, Penalties 0.62%, Seychelles 0.22%
Benin v Malawi
8/2/2014 – Blantyre, Malawi
What Happened: Benin got their goal from our man Stephane Sessegnon. It held up, and Benin takes a one goal lead into the 2nd leg. We thought Benin might be able to grab a 2nd, but they should be OK here. Malawi again had a difficult time finding the back of the onion bag. They now have just 5 goals in their past 9 matches.
Prediction: This is a huge game for Benin. If they are able to advance, we like them to potentially reach Morocco. Expect a low scoring affair here, but don’t be surprised to see Benin bag one early and sit on it. While our predictions seem a little overly optimistic, it should still be Benin.
Original Odds of Advancing: Benin 69.30%, Malawi 30.70%
Current Odds of Advancing: Benin 87.93%, Malawi 6.22%, Penalties 5.85%
Tanzania v Mozambique
8/2/2014 – Maputo, Mozambique
What Happened: Oh man this was a wild one. This match went into the half at 0-0, and there were 4 goals scored in the 2nd half. Mozambique took the lead from the spot in the 47th. Tanzania’s sub Khamis Mcha subsequently scored 2 of his own before Tanzania’s dreams were crushed in the final minutes of the match. That goal massively shifted the balance of power in this one. Mozambique was the only road team to score, and they got 2. They’re in great shape because of one strike.
Prediction: We viewed this as the closest match in the 2nd round, and the Mozambique goal reduced Tanzania’s odds of advancing by almost 30%. It is highly unlikely that Tanzania will get 3 goals, so the best they can hope for is a straight victory or penalties. This match and the Kenya-Lesotho match are the two to watch. We now give the edge to Mozambique for holding serve on the road.
Original Odds of Advancing: Mozambique 52%, Tanzania 48%
Current Odds of Advancing: Mozambique 69.57%, Tanzania 22.94%, Penalties 7.49%
Thanks for reading. We hope you enjoy the qualifiers as much as we do. Once these matches conclude, the group stage will run from September through November. There are a lot of matches to be played, and we’ll have predictions for all of them.
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