For the first time since 1984, Ivory Coast will host the Africa Cup of Nations, as the atmosphere across the continent reaches fever pitch ahead of this year’s competition.
With the best sides in Africa set to battle it out for dominance, expect plenty of goals, memorable moments and drama in equal measure as the tournament gets underway. Equally though, there’s sure to be plenty of betting value elsewhere, most notably in the card (or disciplinary points) department.
In advance of AFCON 2023 kicking off, we take a look through some of the opening group stage fixtures to try and locate where the cards could come.
AFCON yellow cards betting predictions
Ghana v Cape Verde (Sunday 14th January)
Despite being seen as one of Africa’s most famous national teams, Ghana have very much underwhelmed at the past few AFCON tournaments. In fact, their last showing (the 2021 edition) was the Black Stars' worst-ever return, as they were knocked out at the group stage after failing to win any of their three matches.
With a win rate of just 40%, new manager Chris Hughton has hardly enjoyed a successful start to life as Ghana national team boss either. It's also worth noting that Ghana have also scored just eight goals across their last ten internationals.
And with Cape Verde improving much over the past decade, there could easily lead to some shows of frustration from the Black Stars, especially if their status as matchday favourites isn't reflected in the early runnings.
Hot tip: Jordan Ayew to be booked (6/1)
Simply put, Jordan Ayew has been one of Crystal Palace’s best performers overall this season, but even still, he sometimes struggles to keep his discipline. In the Premier League alone, the Ghanaian international has picked up five yellow cards in 19 appearances, with two of those turning into a red against Liverpool back in September.
At 6/1, he seems very good value to back here as a result, especially as he’s started in each of his side’s last four outings which should mean that he finds his way into the starting XI here again.
Egypt vs Mozambique (Sunday 14th January)
The most successful side in AFCON history begin their latest title charge on Sunday, as seven-time champions Egypt face minnows Mozambique in their curtain raiser. Ranked 78 places higher than their opposition in this opener, the Pharaohs should easily take victory here, and this could very well prove to be the most one-sided outcome of all the first group stage matches.
As for Mozambique, they’ve failed to progress from the group stage in four prior attempts, whilst they haven’t beaten any of the continent’s current top-10 sides (as ranked by FIFA) since defeating Morocco 2-0 back in September 2012. That leaves them as rank outsiders for success in this match and their form over the past year remains inconsistent to say the least.
Hot tip: Mozambique over 2.5 cards awarded (7/4)
Due to their huge underdog status in this match, and the fact that their overall squad seemingly lacks real quality in comparison with other sides in this competition, Mozambique could very much struggle to handle Egypt here. As such, backing them to receive over 2.5 cards here could be a solid option.
Cameroon vs Guinea (Monday 15th January)
Five-time AFCON champions Cameroon nearly went all the way again in the 2021 edition of the competition on home soil, but eventually finished third, and this time around, they’ll be desperate to remedy that. Blessed with a strong squad which includes the likes of Vincent Aboubakar, Karl Toko Ekambi and André-Frank Zambo Anguissa.
However, the likes of Joël Matip and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting both reportedly rejected call-ups. There’s also the sizeable problem that the Indomitable Lions sit in Group C at this tournament – which is the so-called ‘group of death’ – alongside current champions Senegal, Gambia and their opposition in this opening fixture, Guinea.
Hot tip: Over 2.5 cards awarded (10/11)
With two of their last three international matches seeing the over 2.5 cards market clear, it’s easy to see value in picking the same bet for this clash between Cameroon and Guinea. Both of these sides will be keen to make a quick start at the 2023 edition of AFCON and as such, this should be a fast-paced match which should lead to cards being given out.