Either way you choose to look at it, the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) has been pretty eventful. The new format of the competition has seen more teams play and more games per day.
FIFA’s move to take over the affairs of African football has not affected the tournament one bit. It’s been business as usual on the pitch, with little next to no noise off it. It’s been a joy to see household names come up against the newcomers.
Mali send Adama Niane home after he slapped team captain Abdoulaye Diaby.
Algeria, Burundi, Egypt & Mali have all sacked players this AFCON and Cameroon have lost one to injury.
What a tournament! #AFCON2019 #Team9jaStrong
— Colin NOT Collins (@ColinUdoh) June 27, 2019
It’s been a week since AFCON 2019 kicked off in Egypt. In the space of seven days, a lot has been seen. However, here are seven prominent things we’ve learnt so far:
1. Refereeing Problems
Had to start with the bad, right? Well, truth is it’s been more obvious in some games that the others. Nevertheless, the truth remains: the continent is still suffering from the plague of terrible officiating.
There are two key examples to buttress this. They’ll be stated in the form of questions:
• Why was the referee so quick to dish out a second yellow to John Boye in Ghana’s 2-2 draw against Benin? Why not warn a player who was adjudged to be guilty of “time wasting” in the 54th minute of the game, instead of sending him off?
The referee in this Senegal match was very poor and that is what cost Senegal the match. There were so many cynical fouls by Algeria that broke up the Senegal play that went unpunished. #SENALG #SSFootball
— Okwu Baa n’Ego (@ekwekuaamaagbaa) June 27, 2019
• Janny Sikazwe was the center referee in the game between Senegal and Algeria. He made more terrible calls than he did good ones in his first game as center ref in the competition. The Algerians got only two yellow cards, despite committing 34 fouls – the most by any side in an AFCON game. He also denied Senegal a clear-cut penalty.
2. Absence of Goals
In the first round of games, only two of the 12 games featured two or more goals. AFCON 2019 started on a cagey note. The underdogs did well in giving the regulars a run for their money. This led to games with very close margins.
Egypt could only score once in their opening game. Same as Nigeria, Morocco And Tunisia. Ghana, Cameroon and Algeria were only able to score twice in their opening group stage games.
Amidst all the noise, it’s imperative to note: No game has ended without a goal being scored. That’s descriptive enough.
3. The Exciting Ones
Teams came to AFCON 2019 with different objectives. Those who came with team spirit and willingness to play have been difficult to miss.
Uganda and Tanzania have both been a joy to behold. The beautiful goals scored by the Malian players won’t be forgotten in a hurry.
Trezeguet’s dribbles, Ola Aina’s assist in Nigeria’s opening AFCON Group B game, and the Beninois’ two goals against Ghana are just part of the highlight reel we’ve enjoyed so far.
4. The Not-So-Exciting Ones
DR Congo has a side bulging at the sides potential. However, they’ve been a huge let down to themselves since the competition kicked off. After a shock loss to Uganda, they followed it with a lackluster display against Egypt.
The South Africans and Namibians are somewhere on this list too!
5. Spectators: Half Full or Half Empty?
The football fiesta has not been a success in terms of the number of spectators in the stadium for the games.
The quality of the stadium and the number of spectators is very disappointing for an AFCON game in the year 2019!
We can however forgive hosts, Egypt considering that they bailed out Cameroon at the last minute #AFCON2019
— LOLA (@CuteNaija) June 22, 2019
The home team playing, as expected, meant a full stadium. The atmosphere was noisy and charged.
— Amb. Olivier Nduhungirehe (@onduhungirehe) June 23, 2019
It was a stark contrast when Burundi faced Madagascar. The trend continued for all games that was not featuring Egypt.
6. Lack of Organization?
Did anyone see that game between Cameroon and Guinea Bissau?
What in the world were the officials thinking, allowing both teams to wear those jerseys? It must have been a challenge for the players because it definitely was for a number of fans.
7. More Exciting Games to Come
Although we’ve had seven days of action, it seems there’s more exciting action to come.
The race to qualify for the knockout stages has started in earnest. Heavyweight clashes are on the horizon. The race for the Golden Boot is very well on too.
The tournament may be seven days old already. But like fine wine, AFCON 2019 will only get better with each passing day.
What have you learnt from the tournament so far? Share your thoughts with us by dropping your comments. We’d love to hear from you.
Author: For The Goal
You can keep in touch with us on most social media platforms @iamforthegoal