Anyone can win it!

Good news! If you, me and every other reader of thenewstatsman formed a soccer team and got ourselves entered in the African Cup of Nations, we’re just as likely to win the tournament as any other team, according to Firdose Moonda. (She doesn’t mention any reduction in the odds if there are less than 11 readers.)

The bad news is that the competition ended a month ago, and the only reason I’m writing about it is that the research for the posting promised last week is proving to be quite time-consuming.

However, I’m just as interested in writing about these minor – and obvious – misdemeanours as I am about seemingly plausible sports-maths that is, on deeper examination, misleading. If you see something silly that warrants a wrist-slap for the journo concerned, or a bit lengthier that demands analysis, or even something quite reasonable (like a table of AFL full-forwards with their goals-per-game average) where you sense the orthodoxy needs challenging, please leave a comment.

Meanwhile, suffice it to say I disagree with Firdose and agree with commenter jmjm1973 (because he is me), who writes: “ ‘There is only a 37.5% chance that the team who lifts the 29th African Nations’ Cup on February 10 will be a new winner…’ …. that is, if the winner is selected randomly from the competing teams. I suppose if Brazil played St Kitts, they’d each have a 50% chance of winning?”

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