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Five matches to watch at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations

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With the draw of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations now concluded, takes a look at the five matches to watch in the group stage of the competition that will hold between June and July in Egypt this summer.

Egypt v Congo DR (June 26, Cairo International Stadium)

China-based striker Cedrick Bakambu, Stoke City’s Benik Afobe, Chadrac Akolo of Bundesliga side Stuttgart, former Chelsea man Gael Kakuta, and England-based duo Yannick Bolasie and Arthur Masuaku are the players that headline  the array of stars  in the Congo Democratic Republic squad

So do they have what it takes to unlock an Egyptian team built around one man in the name of Mohammed Salah?  This is certainly one match that many would be looking forward too come June 30 at the Cairo International Stadium.

In the past both countries have met seven times with Egypt winning five of those duels and drawing two.

FIFA Ranking in Africa

Egypt: 8th

DR Congo: 5th


Nigeria v Burundi (June 22, Alexandria Stadium)

These two countries produced the top two goal scorers during the qualifiers of the Afruca Cup of Nations.  Nigeria’s Odion Ighalo was the campaign’s top scorer with seven goals with Fiston Abdul-Razak of Burundi coming second with six goals. Burundi who did not suffer a loss during the qualifiers tends to show the calibre of the team who are making their first appearance at the Afcon finals.

No doubt the match, will be a good test for the two strikers to prove who is the true king of Africa football in front of goal. Nigeria are aiming for their fourth AFCON title although head coach Gernot Rohr feels the Eagles are not anong the favorites. The German has tipped host country, Egypt and Morocco ahead of his team.

FIFA Ranking in Africa:

Nigeria: 3rd,

Burundi: 37

Senegal v Algeria (June 27, Cairo International Stadium)

As the number one best ranked team in Africa, the Teranga Lions of Senegal are among the favourites to win the AFCON trophy. They also have in their ranks one of Africa’s best strikers.  Liverpool’s Sadio Mane has been in a thrilling form of late. We predict that the pacey attacker is going to prove a handful for the Algeria defence. Algeria on their part also boast of quality players such as Islam Slimani and former Africa Player Riyad Mahrez. Two years ago at this same competition, both countries played out a 2-2 draw. Senegal are making their 14th appearance at the African Cup of Nations – a record for a team that has never won the trophy; the closest Senegal they came to winning the AFCON was in 2002.
This is Algeria’s 17th participation in the African Cup of Nations; their solitary title dates back to 1990, it was on home soil. They haven’t reached the final since then.

FIFA Ranking in Africa: 

Senegal; 1

Algeria;  13

Moroccov v Cote D’Ivoire (June 28, Al Salam Stadium)

Cote D’Ivoire were stopped from appearing at last year’s FIFA World Cup by Morocco. So the opportunity to revenge beckons when both sides meet again in Egypt. The battle will be between Wilfred Zaha the danger man for premier league side, Crystal Palacewho dumped England to play for Cote D’Ivoire and Morocco and inspirational captain, Medhi Benatia.

Another talking point is Morocco coach, Hervé Renard who has  proven himself to be highly adept at leading international sides to glory. He is the first manager to claim the title with two different countries when he managed the Ivory Coast to victory in 2015, and Zambia in 2012.

FIFA Ranking in Africa:

Morocco: 4th

Cote D’Ivoire: 10th

Cameroon v Ghana (June 29, Ismalia Stadium)

This will be one of the toughest matches in the group stage judging from the pedigree of both sides. But will the predictions of former Africa Player of the Year, Yaya Toure come to pass?  toure has given the nod to the  indomitable Lions of Cameroon who are the defending champions. Enough fireworks expected.

Meanwhile Black Stars of Ghana head coach, Kwesi Appiah says they are ready for any opposition regardless of the team’s status. One may say that it has not been easy for Ghana football following the mind blowing revelations of match fixing in 2018 which led to the shameful removal of Kwesi Nyantakyi as the President of the Ghana Football Association.

So will this be Ghana’s year to wipe away the tears of fans back home? Can the reigning champions defeat Ghana like they did two years ago in the semi final of this same competition? So many questions begging for answers. The world is indeed waiting.

FIFA Ranking:

Ghana: 6

Cameroon: 7

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