This past Friday, the Fennecsof Algeria defeated the Lions of Teranga of Senegal1-0 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.
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 Belmadiand 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).
The revelation of this tournament was the Bareaof 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.
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: Egypt, Nigeria, Morocco, Senegal, 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.
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.
Throughout 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!!!