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Rupert Wyman 13th Jan 2010 - 13:39

Another rollercoaster ride in Group A?

The second round of Group A matches in this year's Africa Cup of Nations take place on Thursday.

16:00 Mali v Algeria - live on British Eurosport

Mali and Algeria suffered contrasting fortunes in their opening matches. Algeria's 3-0 hammering at the hands of tournament outsiders Malawi is the most surprising result so far.

That result has seen the Algerians pushed out to 9/1 to win the group and 25/1 to win the whole tournament.

Mali would have been having the same feelings as Algeria until a crazy last 11 minutes against Angola, in which they scored four goals, which saw them turn a certain defeat into a creditable draw.

Mali will hope to use the momentum gained from those last minutes to gain the three points against Algeria, and at 13/10 to do so they look a cracking price to oblige.

Stephen Keshi's side have some stars of African football among their ranks including Fredi Kanoute and Seydou Keita. The pair scored three of the Eagles' four goals against Angola, despite the latter only starting on the bench. They are available at evens and 9/4 respectively to get on the scoresheet once again.

Mali set out to attack in their opening match with a 4-3-3 formation and if they do so the same again the over 2.5 goals option looks a great bet at 23/20, especially when considering Algeria's goalkeeping vulnerability as evidenced by Faouzi Chaouchi's performance in the Desert Foxes' opening loss.



18:30 Angola v Malawi - live on British Eurosport

The second match of the day features the hosts Angola against Malawi. If the Flames were to somehow upset the odds for the second match in succession then they will put themselves in with a great chance of qualifying for the knockout phase.

However, Malawi were able to take advantage of a poor Algerian performance in their opening match and I don't see the same happening again versus Angola in front of thousands of passionate Black Antelope fans in the capital, Luanada.

If you disagree then you can get a huge 11/2 about another surprise victory. In the match betting, the value bet looks to be the draw at 31/10.

Angola are short 1/2 favourites but this is far too short to consider backing. One can't help but think most of this price is down to Angola's position as hosts rather than the great talent in their side.

The Black Antelopes have a good strike pairing of Flavio and Manucho (evens and 10/11 to score respectively) but elsewhere their team is lacking enough quality to justify backing them at such a short price.

As a result I would much prefer to be on the 2/5 for a Malawi victory with a two-goal start in the handicap market.

But with the unpredictable nature of the Africa Cup of Nations so far this really is a tricky match to call.



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