While most of Aston Villa’s remaining squad enjoy their holidays while Villa’s backroom staff seek to bolster and shape the squad for the forthcoming return to the Premier League, some of Villa’s play-off winning team are still in action.
The now departed Tammy Abraham has over the past couple of weeks been taking part for England in the 2019 Euros in Italy (and San Marino). He played in all of England’s three games, that saw them knocked out after they lost their first two games against France and Romania.
Abraham came on as a sub in the first two games, coming off the bench in the 4-2 loss against Romania to score. He started in the 3-3 draw against Croatia, but failed to score.
Meanwhile, over in Egypt, Villa have two players battling it out in a bid to win the African Cup of Nations for their representative countries. Both players have had good starts.
Villa right-back Ahmed Elmohamady is the captain of host nation Egypt and the Pharaohs got off to a good start with a 1-0 win over Zimbabwe in their Group A opener.
Elmo will certainly fancy his sides chances of qualifying into the knockout stages with group games against DR Congo and Uganda to come.
The Villa right-back will be looking for a play-off final and African Cup of Nations double win, knowing that things will get tougher next season, when he faces new competition for his place in the Villa team with the arrival of Frédéric Guilbert.
Point to Prove
Meanwhile, after playing second fiddle to Tammy Abraham for Villa in the promotion season, Jonathan Kodjia stepped up to main man status again, scoring the winner for the Ivory Coast against South Africa in a 1-0 win that saw temperatures at the Al Salam Stadium peak at around 37 Celsius.
Kodjia has had mixed fortunes playing for his home country in the past, notably picking up a long-term injury two years ago, that ultimately dropped him down the pecking order at Villa.
Kodjia will no doubt aim to use his time in Egypt to try and impress on Dean Smith that he has a role to play in the Premier League. Despite the signing of Wesley Moraes, the Villa Head Coach might not be totally convinced going into next season with his striking options.
Will he keep Kodjia and Scott Hogan? A good African Cup of Nations for Kodjia could help sway Smith’s thoughts on him.
Meanwhile, South Africa after their opening loss will face an uphill task to claim one of the qualifying slots into the next round. In terms of their odds of qualifying, they’d probably have a better chance of success on South African Casinoslots than making it through to the knockout stages of the tournament.
South Africa were largely unpredictable going into the tournament, beating Nigeria while only drawing against Seychelles. So now Morocco, after their 1-0 win against Namibia, will be favourites along the Ivory Coast to qualify from Group D, as they are obviously used to the North African conditions.
As for who’s the favourites to win the whole tournament?
Elmohamady’s Egypt with their home advantage are favourites at 4/1, while Kodjia’s Ivory Coast are the fourth most fancied team at 8/1.