The 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) group stages are of course concluded, with 16 teams still in the running to be crowned champions of the 32nd edition of the continent’s biggest football party.
Concise News reports that hosts Egypt remain the favourites, but the likes of the other North African entourage: Morocco and Algeria, not forgetting Senegal will all fancy their chances after solid showings in the group stages.
The round of 16 will commence tomorrow Friday when Uganda confront Senegal and Morocco tackle Benin. The full schedule can be found here.
Egypt collected maximum points from their AFCON matches so far and have improved as the tournament progress. The home support could see them go all the way.
Led by last year’s The Best FIFA Men’s Player third place prizeman, Mohamed Salah, the Pharaohs struggled somewhat in their opener against Zimbabwe but have since recorded impressive 2-0 wins over Congo and Uganda – two teams that also qualified for the round of 16.
Madagascar caused the biggest shock of the tournament so far by winning Group B after victories in back-to-back matches against Burundi and Nigeria to secure top spot.
It’s their first-ever entry in the tournament, and it remains to be seen how long this Cinderella run can last.
Algeria beat Senegal to top spot in Group C thanks to a 1-0 win in their second match, but both teams will fancy their chances considering group-stage showings. Youcef Belaili’s strike was the sole goal the Senegalese side conceded―they’ll pose a difficult challenge to anyone, even as they did not win their group.
Morocco’s fantastic defensive reputation was on full display in the group stages, with the Atlas Lions winning Group D following three straight 1-0 wins. Led by Medhi Benatia, the back line is one of the toughest and most experienced in the tournament and will be difficult to break down by even the most talented forwards. Remember, they are guided by a tough man too – Hervé Renard.
For the Super Eagles of Nigeria, in spite of the fact that Cameroon are the defending champions, their pairing is balanced. Both have not been superb in the tournament. Anyone could steal the victory. The last time both countries met in a competitive game, it ended in a draw at the Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo in Yaoundé.
Uganda 0-2 Senegal
Morocco 2-0 Benin
Madagascar 2-1 Congo
Ghana 0-1 Tunisia
Mali 2-1 Ivory Coast
Algeria 2-0 Guinea
Nigeria 1-2 Cameroon
Egypt 2-0 South Africa