The 2019 Africa Cup of Nations group stage has come to an end. The 24 team format has its pluses and minuses, though in North Africa all the teams went through. Is it good? What are their chances? How far will they go in the tournament? A few talking points from the North African teams in the first phase in Egypt.
Egypt: An article that has been published recently showed that Javier Aguirre earns around $110,000 a month as Egypt’s coach. In comparison to Hector Cúper, that was making 125,000 per month, that’s an improvement. Yet, the football Egypt is playing hasn’t changed a lot.
Egypt finished its best group stage ever in Cup of Nations’ tournaments with three wins, 5 goals for and 0 conceded, but still, they don’t look right. The Amr Warda’s story has only brought negative energy from the fans, although it was silenced professionally by the Egyptian Football Association. Egypt is enjoying the support of eighty-thousand fans in every game, and they for sure will need their help as the Pharaohs are in the harder half of the knockouts bracket: Starting against South Africa, then Nigeria or Cameroon and if everything goes by the script - a boiling semifinal against Algeria. It’s gonna be hot.
Algeria: Djamel Belmadi’s Fennecs were the most impressive Arab team in the competition early stage. With three victories, including a lucrative one against favorites Senegal, together with a great team spirit and top players in form, Algeria looks set and prepared to go all the way in Egypt. Algeria is playing as a team, and Guinea shouldn’t be the team that interrupts them in their mighty quest in this tournament: Prove all the critics wrong about their ability to combine a unit from a bunch of stars, and to beat Egypt in their home ground. Can they do it in a boiling night in Cairo?
Morocco: Except for one half against Côte d’Ivoire, the Atlas’ Lions are not convincing. Usually, Herve Renard’s teams are more robust and ‘hungry’, but Morocco against Namibia and South Africa was looking unstable and heavy. With that being said, the Moroccans did finish with 9 points without conceding a single goal. Yet, they lack the stabilization between Hakim Ziyech and the rest of the squad. The Ajax superstar is, however, to impress in this AFCON, and if he does not provide, it will be hard for the most talented team in the tournament to win its first cup since 1976.
Tunisia: In a standard, pre-24 team AFCON tournament, Tunisia shouldn’t be in the knockout stage. Three draws, only two goals and a dull performance by literally every player who participated in the group stage. But Tunisia’s problems are just a reflection for a well-known African football disease. FA’s hiring an outdated coach, usually a former legend in France or so, only for his name and language. Alain Giresse, who’s travelling in the African football for a while has won nothing so far. Nothing.
Moreover, he is spreading nothing but a negative atmosphere and lousy football. Tunisia will play Ghana, who are themselves are enjoying the services of a back-dated coach as Kwesi Appiah. The Carthage Eagles will pray for a miracle to go through.