The Fennecs of Algeria Win the African Cup of Nations 2019

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The Fennecs of Algeria celebrate winning AFCON 2019 (The Guardian)

This past Friday, the Fennecs of Algeria defeated the Lions of Teranga of Senegal 1-0 to become Africa’s new champions. This was their second title since 1990.  Even though the final was not the desert foxes’s best game, they clearly were the best team of the tournament. Baghdad Bounedjah‘s early goal propelled Algeria to a first Africa Cup of Nations title in 29 years with a fiery 1-0 victory over Senegal in Friday’s final in Cairo.


Algeria’s coach Djamel Belmadi and Senegal’s coach Aliou Cisse

I would like to salute both coaches.  The 2019 Africa Cup of Nations was the first time in over 20 years when both finalists were led by African coaches: Algeria by Djamel Belmadi and Senegal by Aliou Cissé. This should be the norm, rather than the exception. Coincidentally, both coaches grew up in the same suburb of Paris, are the same age only separated by one day, and played against each other at youth level. They came head-to-head in a league game between Marseille and Paris Saint-Germain in February 2001, and then with their national teams two months later. Again African teams should be led by Africans… No wonder Egypt performed so poorly at the AFCON 2019 (this is the first time, they were not led by a local).

Flag of Madagascar

The revelation of this tournament was the Barea of Madagascar which for their first participation ever to the African Cup of Nations, performed extremely well, and went as far as the quarter finals. For their successful performance, their country’s president knighted the whole team.

Overall, AFCON 2019 brought us a lot of joy and tears, and we applaud the winners of this year’s tournament Algeria.

2018 FIFA World Cup: the African Teams

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2018 FIFA World Cup

Today, the whole world will be transported to the land of the Matryoshka dolls, and the entire globe will vibrate at the start of the biggest planetary sport event … Yes today, the 2018 FIFA World Cup will start in Russia, and 32 of the best soccer nations will compete at this great event. This will be one month of soccer, pure joy, fun, and above all talent. Zabivaka, the mascot’s name means “the one who scores” in Russian, and we are looking forward to great goals and top scorers. This month, legends will be made, new talents discovered, and dreams will take off.

Five African teams will grace the tournament: EgyptNigeria, MoroccoSenegal, and Tunisia. We do hope that at least one African team will advance into the round of 16, and beyond.  Here are some of the African stars to watch out for.

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Zabivaka the mascot

The Pharaohs of Egypt are among Africa’s best teams, being 7th time African Cup of Nations champions. This year, the big star is Mohamed Salah who, with his  Premier League Golden Boot award and more prowess, has become a legend in his home country.  Egypt is in a relatively easy group with the home team Russia, Saudi Arabia and Uruguay. Their goalkeeper, Essam El-Hadary, at 45 is also the oldest player at the World cup this year, and has been a favorite to watch during all the African Cup of Nations, in par due to his charisma, discipline, and sheer determination.

Morocco’s Lions of the Atlas are in group B with Spain, Portugal, and Iran. The group looks tough with Spain and Portugal, but we do wish them the very best. This is their first participation in 20 years, Medhi Benatia and his teammates do hope to have a great world cup.

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2018 FIFA World Cup groups

Tunisia’s Eagles of Carthage are in group G with England, Belgium, and Panama. This is a tough group. They are led by Wahbi Khazri, and although they have lost their top player Youssef Msakni to injury, they do hope for a good world cup.

The Lions of the Teranga of Senegal are led by Cheikhou Kouyaté are also a big team. They are in a relatively easy group, group H, with Poland, Japan, and Colombia. Their young coach, Aliou Cissé, has put a big emphasis on focus and determination. So we do hope to see them in the second round.

The Super Eagles of Nigeria are led by their captain John Obi Mikel. At the last world cup, in Brazil in 2014, Nigeria was also in the same group as Argentina. The other teams in group D are Croatia and Iceland. With good discipline, the super Eagles should be able to advance in the competition as well.

fifa-world-cupThroughout the years, I have placed high hopes on African teams and have been often disappointed.  I might once again be disappointed.  However, this is a planetary tournament, and the fun of it makes one root for any good team. To make for a fun event with great home support, we hope that the host team, Russia, makes it to the second round. For the world cup winner, Germany, the previous winner has as strong squad, as well as a pool of great talents, and they will be eyeing their 5th world cup. We hope the Mannschaft is very well-oiled, because there are 31 good teams to contend with! Overall, let the world cup start, with all the fun, and may the best team win!!!