World Cup 2018 Odds – African Teams Group Stage Betting

17th April 2018 | World Cup Betting category: World Cup Betting & Odds
World Cup Betting & Odds

World Cup betting can take a lot of planning and with so many teams, and probably ones that realistically you may not know too much about in terms of form and ability, showing up, it can be a bit of a minefield to start with. Choosing an outright winner isn’t that difficult in the context of the entire tournament because more likely than not, as proven time and time again throughout the history of the World Cup, you are picking from a small selection of teams.

Not all 32 teams turning up at the 2018 World Cup are going to be good enough to win it. There have only been eight different nations who have won a World Cup and between them, Brazil, Germany and Italy have won thirteen of the previous twenty editions. So you are looking at European and South American dominance within that as well because five of the eight previous winners have come from Europe (Germany, Italy, France, England, Spain) and the other three from South America (Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay).

Which means that teams from the other Confederations taking part, CAF (Africa), OFC (Oceania) and CONCACAF (North/Central America) really don’t have much of a look in. No team who has not been a part of UEFA or CONMEBOL have ever made it to a World Cup Final. Just two from outside the powerhouse confederations have made it to a final four finish. That was the USA who took third in 1930 and South Korea who finished fourth in 2002. Aside from that, it’s all Europe and South America.

So you are really not expecting someone from Africa, which arguably is the best Confederation in terms of quality beyond UEFA and CONMEBOL, to turn up and make a run at the final. However, it is interesting to look at the recent numbers of African teams making their way past the group stage. Once again there are five CAF nations heading to the World Cup, which is the average number of qualifiers from there (2010 aside when they had six as South Africa hosted).

How many can progress?

With those teams spread out across the different groups, that’s five chances that an African nation will be in the round of sixteen. But realistically, how many African nations are likely to progress past the group stage? Looking back at the recent history of World Cups, it may not be too many. The problem for the African teams is that they aren’t ranking high enough in the FIFA World Rankings to be any higher that Pot 3 in World Cup seeding.

So they are are going to be going up against two sides combined from UEFA and CONMEBOL in a group and that immediately puts the African nations on the back foot and is why it is hard for them to progress. For the 2018 World Cup rankings, the highest ranked African team was Tunisia (28th in the world) and they were joined in Pot 3 by Senegal and Egypt. Morocco and Nigeria were in Pot 4.

2018 Group Opponents/To qualify odds*

Egypt 6/4 odds: Russia, Saudi Arabia, Uruguay (Group A)
Morocco 30/1 odds: Portugal, Spain, Iran (Group B)
Nigeria 11/1 odds: Argentina, Iceland, Croatia (Group D)
Tunisia 25/1: Belgium, England, Panama (Group G)
Senegal 11/2 at bet365: Poland, Colombia, Japan (Group H)* (all betting odds taken on April 13th, 2018 at 11.01 p.m.)

Top African Team Odds

Senegal 2/1, Nigeria 9/4, Egypt 11/4, Morocco 7/1, Tunisia 7/1* (betting odds taken on April 13th, 2018 at 11.01 p.m.)

African Round of 16 Qualifiers in the last 5 World Cups

So looking back over the last five edition of the World Cup, how many African teams on average actually manage to make it out of the group stage? Let’s take a look at the numbers:

Appearing: Algeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Nigeria
Qualified from Group Stage: Nigeria, Algeria

Appearing: Algeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, South Africa (hosts)
Qualified from Group Stage: Ghana

Appearing: Angola, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Togo, Tunisia
Qualified from Group Stage: Ghana

Appearing: Cameroon, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tunisia
Qualified from Group Stage: Senegal

Appearing: Cameroon, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa, Tunisia
Qualified from Group Stage: Nigeria


So you can see how tough it is is for the African nations to battle their way through the group stage. The sheer number of European nations at the event, combined with the power of the South American teams really limits the chances of African nations. But then the argument is, if they are good enough, they will get through.

So you could ascertain from that, that at best you are looking at two African nations making their way to the knockout stage of the 2018 World Cup.

Right from the off, the odds really looked stacked against Morocco, Nigeria and Tunisia simply because of really tough group stage draws that they have to face. So they are the participants from the CAF who are most likely to take a tumble in that first stage. So it would leave realistically Egypt and Senegal as the two most likely to progress as they have far more manageable groups.

Egypt 6/4 odds: Russia, Saudi Arabia, Uruguay (Group A)
Senegal 11/2: Poland, Colombia, Japan (Group H)

But looking at the stats, with only six occurrences of an African team making it the round of sixteen in the last five editions, sensibly it is worth dialling things back to expect only one to make it through. So which, out of Egypt and Senegal would be the most likely ones to battle their way through?

Senegal or Egypt?

Senegal have a lot of quality players who ply their trade across Europe like West Ham’s Cheikh Kouyate, Wolves’ Alfred N’Diaye, Stoke’s Mame Biram Diouf and Everton’s Oumar Niasse. Their star player is Liverpool’s, Sadio Mane. However, is that going to be enough to get them out of a competitive group against Poland, Colombia and Japan? In the March international break, they played friendly matches against Uzbekistan and Bosnia and only managed a draw in both. In the whole of 2017 they didn’t meet anyone outside of the CAF.

Judging from the lack of quality opposition that they have faced in the last year or so and the results within all of that, they may be short of ability in being able to qualify. But then Egypt, even though they have star power in Liverpool’s Mo Salah, have an easier group to handle because of how poor host nation Russia look so that will give them a better chance perhaps of qualifying. But they didn’t show a tremendous amount of form last year and early in 2018, they lost (albeit narrowly) against Portugal in a friendly, before following that up with a loss against Greece. One man can only carry a team so far.


In summary, we expect only the one African nation to make it through to the round of sixteen at the 2018 World Cup. We think it will be a toss-up between Egypt and Senegal. Which would get our tip? It would be Senegal just because they do have a better-looking squad in terms of depth and with more players playing their football across Europe. There should be enough points for them to take off Japan and Colombia in the group to make it through.

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* All mentioned odds were valid at the time of writing. Betting odds are subject to fluctuations. Please check the current odds with the respective bookmaker!

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