The African Cup of Nations has been nothing yet but stellar so far. Heading into the Quarters, this 16-team tournament has been nothing short of excitement, blood, action and thrill.
This tournament means so much to these teams left and it will really show when the time has come for these players representing their country and doing all they can to bring home the title as “Best International Team in Africa”
What Has Happened so Far
It was hard to watch as the two teams expected to make noise in this tournament out of Group A took a loss in the first round of the knockout stage.
As Egypt was the favorite to win the whole thing, it was hard to watch them and captain Salah go down in a 1 – 0 loss to South Africa.
Not only was Egypt the only team from group A to keep an eye on but also Uganda. Uganda was a special team who had it in them to make a run this tournament, and yet they couldn’t close the deal as Senegal beat them 1 – 0.
A close finish in the Group B section left fans gasping for air as Madagascar secures the group with 7 points to close 2nd place in Nigeria with 6 points. Both teams had stellar performances throughout the group stage, and also in the first round of the tournament.
Madagascar’s attack has been something to really look at as they have scored 5 goals in their 3 group stage games. They also scored 2 goals in the first round of the tourney to help propel them past Congo. I would expect them to come out and play like the aggressive team they are for the rest of the tournament.
Another sweep in the group stages. The clear and dominant team, Algeria swept their way through group C while scoring 6 goals total. It was clear that they were the all-around better team in this group.
In their last game scoring 3 goals against a Tanzanian team that needed everything thing they could get out of that game. Algeria looks like a clear favorite while heading into the Quarter finals and a team that could easily walk away with their own African Cup.
Another team making noise right now in the tournament is Senegal. Coming off a stellar 1-0 win against Uganda, they really could be a force to be reckoned with. With their only loss of the tournament coming to Algeria, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this team make a late tournament run.
An absolute nail biter. Going into the tournament, Morocco looked like the team to beat; and that is just what happened. An early exit from the squad left them in the dirt as Benin knocked them off in a penalty shootout ending in 1 (4) – 1 (1) fashion.
I would not sleep on the Ivory Coast though. They were oh so close to being at the top of the field in Group D. If they could have held Morocco to no goals this table would have been there’s. With winning 2 games and losing 1 in group stages, they still put up 5 goals total and only conceded 2.
In the first round of the tournament they took down Mali in a 1 – 0 victory. With having Algeria next it truly will be a test on how good this team can be.
Mali being the team that came out of the group at the top was knocked off right away. The only team left from Group E is Tunisia.
Tunisia slid by Ghana in a PK thriller that ended as 1 (4) – 1 (5). This was an absolutely insane game and showed the world that Tunisia is a team that wants this cup. With their next game against Madagascar, I expect Tunisia to come out more aggressive than last game and put on a show.
The only team left is the team that ended 3rd on the table in this group. This just shows how tough of a group it truly was. Benin who recently knocked off Morocco in a PK thriller will be put to the test.
Playing Senegal, it will not be a walk in the park as this Senegal team attempts to walk all over Benin.
But, I would not sleep on this side as they have made some noise already in the tournament and are ready to make more.
Alex – Algeria
This was a tough one for me. After looking at all the teams and their performances throughout the group stage, the team that stuck out to me had to be Algeria. They have been performing at too high of a level and have been playing overall way too good as a team. Behind star striker Slimani and Midfielder Riyad Mahrez, they have the attack and leadership to take them far in this long 16 team tournaments.
But their defense is truly the reason that they are here. Keeping Senegal to no goals throughout the group stage was incredible as they are a quick, high scoring and a flashy football team. Algeria proved to the world and to all of Africa during the group stage that they are a true contender to bring home the African Cup and after watching them play, they truly should be a team to watch out for as they are my pick to win the 2019 African Cup of Nations.
Jason – Senegal
Senegal is led by their star Sadio Mane who is fresh off a champions league victory, and he is ready to prove it for his country. He said he cared more about winning this trophy for his nation then anything else, and I feel that this will inspire his side and all the supporters of the squad.
Senegal proved in the World Cup last summer that they were a quality team and that the squad is here and ready to compete with the best. I believe Senegal will get through the next few rounds at ease and end up finding their way to their very own African Cup trophy.