Top 5 matches to watch out at AFCON 2019
Written by: Uttiyo Sarkar
Several stars from the top European leagues will take centre stage in the quest to claim African football's top prize.
African Football’s greatest spectacle comes to life in beautiful Egypt in less than a month when the top football nations come together to adjourn the best in the continent. The African Cup of Nations promises to be different than regular editions, with 24 teams participating in it for the very first time. Having emulated the pattern which worked well in the AFC Asian Cup earlier this year, more teams have gotten the opportunity to reach African Football’s summit.
As some top teams are separated from the underdogs, the tournament promises to be full of excitement and unpredictability. Some tasty groups have been made, pitting top African teams together. There will be some slobber-knocker matches early on in the tournament as the nations aim to earn bragging rights earlier on. So here we’ll look at the top 5 matches to watch out for in AFCON 2019.
5. Egypt Vs DR Congo
After narrowly missing out on the AFCON title last time, Egypt are out for redemption as they host the tournament this year. Despite being favourites to win the group thanks to Mohamed Salah’s influence, conquering Congo will be an intimidating task. The Leopards clawed their way into qualifying for the tournament and are a hard nut to crack thanks to their solid defensive structure.
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Even Salah and co could find overpowering their determination as a difficult task. The Pharoah’s would want a perfect record in the group stages, but could experience a shock against Congo. It’d be an attack vs defence contest, but Congo’s unpredictable attack can enable it to become a thrilling, end-to-end game.
4. Tunisia Vs Mali
Tunisia surprised many with their tenacity in the FIFA World Cup last year and have since used that momentum to make ground in the African circuit. Boasting a strong squad, they could create up quite the storm this time. However, Mali won’t allow them to win the group that easily. The Eagles themselves boast some strong players playing at the highest level of European Football and ready to show up for their country.
Knowing Tunisia’s hard-working, attacking style and Mali’s own threat like FC Porto striker Moussa Marega and winger Adama Traore, both won’t give in to pressure. What can be expected is an entertaining game for the neutral in which the more clinical side prevails.
All the winners in the tournament's history
3. Cameroon Vs Ghana
The Champions have been pit in a relatively easy group, but have an intimidating challenge in Ghana awaiting them. The Indomitable Lions haven’t experienced the best of form coming into the AFCON 2019 and could be rattled by the Black Stars if they show complacency. Ghana have experienced strong recent form and possess a highly experienced outfit with ample European football experience.
Cameroon needs to tread carefully for its top stars to rise through to win the group. The Indomitable Lions trounced over Ghana easily two years ago in the AFCON, but it won’t be that easy knowing the Black Stars’ dominating attacking form. It promises to be an end-to-end contest in which both goalkeepers will be tested regularly and the team with stronger mental fortitude prevails.
2. Senegal Vs Algeria
Yes, we’re about to get Sadio Mane vs Riyad Mahrez in the group stages of the AFCON 2019 itself! Two early favourites to go all the way, it’ll be a no-holds-barred affair between some of the most brilliant African players around in World Football. Both sides boast some amazing players and strictly follow a philosophy of thrilling, attacking football to entertain the fans.
Apart from the two superstars, Senegal and Algeria posses players with impressive experience in playing at high-pressure competitions. Their last match in the AFCON 2017 ended a thrilling 2-2 draw. Considering how their teams have only improved and stacked with more world-class names, one can expect an even more intense affair where individual brilliance should topple over everything.
1. Morocco Vs Ivory Coast
Morocco’s inspired run in the FIFA World Cup last year proved they’re no pushovers and they’ll look to go all the way into winning the AFCON this time. However, their group consists of Ivory Coast and South Africa, with the former being a big threat to their chances of winning the group. Boasting with dazzling players like Wilfried Zaha, Jean Michael Seri or Serge Aurier, The Elephants will put up a formidable show this time.
When Morocco’s intense attacking philosophy clashes with Ivory Coast’s fast-paced, fluid style, fireworks are guaranteed in Egypt. A personal battle for bragging rights, both aim to oust each other in every department and overpower one another with incisive, attacking football. It’d be one the neutral will absolutely relish, as watching these two heavyweights go at each other’s going to be a spectacle of AFCON 2019.
Published: Tue May 28, 2019 02:09 PM IST