Lose a game and you are sent packing. This is where we are with the Afcon 2019 knock out stage. After two weeks of intense group activities, the numbers are narrowing down. A little break for the teams but also it is time to study the opponents, fine tune tactical displays, build confidence and ritual performing for others.
We begin with the unexpected and then those that lived up to their status, and finally some flops this far in the tournament.
Retain the name Madagascar who have so far created the greatest upset in the history of the competition by qualifying from the group ahead of 2013 champions Nigeria with an exceptional 7 points and 5 goals scored with two of them coming against Nigeria.
Their next opponents the DRC must have been keen on these statistics and should counter attack their determination .
Madagascar – DRC, on Sunday early super time at 4pm GMT.
Interestingly a statement from the presidency of the country says president Andry Rajoelina has chartered a 480 seater plane to take football fans to Egypt for the game against the DRC.
The flight will leave Antananarivo on Saturday and return immediately after the game.
But the adventure will not be for free — tickets cost about $600 including the flight, a seat at the match and meals. Probably more surprise from the island nation as the president will watch the game in Egypt.
The figures for this group phase, which was particularly prolific in terms of goals. The players scored 68 goals in 36 games, a ratio of 1.8 goals per game. And Group A was in excess with 13 goals, including 5 for the host country, Egypt. Algeria and Mali scored the most goals, six each. On the defence side, Tanzania presented the worst statistics with 8 goals conceded for only two scored, a difference of -6, and Taifas Stars are the only team with Burundi and Guinea Bissau to have left the competition without grabbing a single point.
We hope to relive an equally exciting sequence with more goals and scorers in the knock out games. Eleven players currently share the status of the tournament’s top scorer with two goals each. And all are still in the running, with the exception of Kenyan striker Michael Olunga, who by the end of the competition, will probably no longer be on the list of top scorers.
And then, CAF revealed its list of the best players at the end of the group matches.The best eleven include the two most anticipated stars: Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané, both of whom scored two goals in this tournament. It should be noted that Egypt has the lion’s share of the eleven with four players.
Let us now turn to a subject that has been of interest to many since the beginning of this tournament, the low attendance in the stadiums. The crowd mostly shows up when host Egypt takes to the pitch while other games attract only a few hundreds. This low level of mobilization is surprising, especially in a country where the passion for football is very strong.
Ugandan players receive bonus ahead of Senegal clash. The Federation announced in a statement on Wednesday the release of a $6,000 bonus for each player so as not to compromise the match against Senegal on Friday. The players resumed their preparation yesterday after boycotting Tuesday’s training.