Ahoy football fans! It’s the time to turn up the heat in Cairo as the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) takes center stage on Friday, 21 June, 2019.
This is the first time the tournament is taking place in the summer, guaranteeing a bigger chunk of viewers compared to previous editions.
In the same vein, it will be an expanded competition up to 24 for the first time ever, it will be interesting to see how all this pan out after four weeks of Africa’s elite football.
We seek to dissect the nations group by group; those who will make it into the next stage.
Despite a horrible show in Russia last year, Egypt are still the favorites to win this. They’ll be playing on home soil and they’ve a vital asset that scooped 2017 2018 African Footballer of the Year and a Champions League winner in Mohamed Salah. He will be responsible to lead the Pharaohs past the knockout stage.
DR Congo come in for their 19th appearance, with lots of experience in this competition. They’ve scooped bronze on two occasions and reached the quarters in 2017. Everton’s Yannick Bolasie and the team have what it takes to help Leopards for a top two finish in the group.
Uganda have now qualified for back-to-back finals showing how a team can stabilize with time. 1987 losing finalists will be aiming to proceed past the group stage. Cranes will heavily rely on Farouk Miya and Denis Onyango for goals and between the sticks respectively.
Zimbabwe possess little threat as far as the group is concerned. Although they have qualified for successive finals since their debut, it will be an absolute mini miracle for a country not known for their footballing exploits go past group stages. But the Warriors will surely make their fourth appearance count.
- Egypt 2. DR Congo 3. Uganda 4. Zimbabwe
It is be widely expected for Nigeria to not only topping the group but also going up to the finals in a group that consists Guinea, Madagascar and Burundi in it. Super Eagles have the best of the crop; Alex Iwobi, Obi Mikel, Ahmed Musa, Wilfred Ndidi, Odion Ighalo are some of the names that usually win a match in the tunnel.
And its very hard to explain how they missed the last two editions (2015 and 2017). May be this is the right time for the western country put things in order.
The fact that Guinea have Liverpudlian Naby Keita at their disposal they’ll surely make it alive out of the group. Significant to note; they finished top of their qualifying group unbeaten ahead of Ivory Coast. The 2015 quarterfinalists have an elite coach in Paul Put and will surely give this group a run for their money.
Madagascar are in it for the first time, so is Burundi. Other than the fact that the Barea were the first country to qualify with two matches to spare, little is known about the island’s sporting exploits. All said and done Malagasy are out to make a bold statement on continental stage.
Interestingly, Burundi, also making their debut were unbeaten in qualifiers stages. Les Hirondelles’ Abdul Razak pairing with Stoke City’s Saido Berahino upfront will be tasked for the goals.
- Nigeria 2. Guinea 3. Burundi 4. Madagascar