AFCON 2019: Can Nigeria stop in-form Algeria?

It is not by surprise that the top three ranked African teams (as per FIFA ranking of June 14th) Senegal, Tunisia and Nigeria have made it to the semi finals.
14 Jul 2019 15:12
Algerian players celebrate a goal

The 2019 Total Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) enters the semi final stage this afternoon with Senegal taking on Tunisia and the Super Eagles of Nigeria battling the in-form Desert Fennecs of Algeria.

It is not by surprise that the top three ranked African teams (as per FIFA ranking of June 14th) Senegal, Tunisia and Nigeria have made it to the semi finals.

UEFA Champions League winner with Liverpool Sadio Mane with three goals already to his name in the tournament will lead the Lions of Teranga to try and rewrite history since they have never lifted the trophy.

To reach the semi final Senegal defeated Benin at the quarter final stage 1-0. They saw off Uganda 1-0 in the Group of 16 after beating both Kenya and Tanzania in the Group and falling 1-0 to Algeria. But Aliou Cisse, the Senegal coach told URN that they cannot underrate the Tunisian team because they have the experience.

“We need to try to take our chances because scoring first in a knock out game is very important,” he added. The Cathage Eagles of Tunisia who did not win any game in the Group stage but managed to eject Ghana in the Group of 16 on penalties and saw off Madagascar 3-0 at the quarter final stage are also hungry to prove a point.

Over 1000 Tunisians have already arrived in Cairo to support the team at the 30 June Stadium.   ‘‘I know Senegal’s players very well because I coached them before as coach of Senegal. But on the pitch it will be something else because we want to continue our adventure till the final of the AFCON,” said Tunisia’s coach Alain Giresse. In their last meetings in previous AFCONs Senegal and Tunisia have each won a game, while the three others ended in draws.

For the second semi final at the Cairo International Stadium it promises to be another thriller. Algeria cheered on by over 3000 fans are favorites as they are the only team that are yet to suffer defeat and have only conceded one goal.

Led by the gifted Sofiane Feghouli and former African Player of the Year and skipper Riyad Karim Mahrez Algeria have proved to be the best attacking and defending team. Having scored a record 10 goals and conceded only one going into the semi final clash, the Desert Fennecs are not a team that can be underrated.

‘‘We are ready and will do our best to win. This is the semifinal so there are no favorites, the chances are equal,” said Algeria’s coach Djamel Belmadi.

For the Super Eagles of Nigeria who have not been very convincing but have been getting the results will be a team to watch because of the high level of motivation in the team. Already they have been promised over Shs100 million for every goal scored till the final on top of the hefty bonuses.

Nigeria’s shock 2-0 defeat to debut making Madagascar was a good wake-up call as they have now improved in their play which saw them fight back to beat Cameroon 3-2 at the quarter final stage before seeing off South Africa 2-1 in the semis.

‘‘We respect Algeria because they have a good team. We are playing against a team which everyone believes are the best and favorites to lift the Cup,” Nigeria’s coach Gernot Rohr said ahead of Sunday’s match.

Uganda reached the Group of 16 after qualifying out of the Group where they beat DR Congo 2-0 and drew 1-1 against Zimbabwe. The Cranes went on to fall 2-0 to Egypt in the last Group A game and fell 1-0 to Senegal in the Group of 16.

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