The 2019 Africa Cup of Nations came to a close on Friday, as Algeria secured a slim 1-0 victory over the Terranga Lions of Senegal to lift the coveted trophy for the second time in the history of the competition.
The final was the culmination of an excellent 32nd edition, which played host to 24 teams for the very first time.
Lots of established players enhanced their already glowing reputations, a number of unknown talents made a name for themselves and some may have even put themselves on the list for open window for the remainder of the summer transfer window.
Today , We take a look at AFCON team of the tournament.
GK: Mohamed El-Shenawy
Algeria keeper Rais M’bolhi ended the tournament with the best statistical record, having conceded only two goals on the way to lifting the trophy, but Mohamed El-Shenawy’s performances for Egypt were nothing short of heroic at times.
The Egyptian keeper was excellent for the host nation during the group stages, bailing them out on a number of occasions against DR Congo and Zimbabwe.
Despite being knocked out in the round of 16, El-Shenawy ended the tournament with the second highest number of saves – 15.
RB: Youcef Atal
A contender for player of the tournament, Youcef Atal was on fire for Algeria prior to his unfortunate injury against Ivory Coast which ruled him out for the final two matches.
The Nice man was a constant threat down the right-flank, carrying the ball with effortless ease, and was able to match his offensive prowess with some neat defensive work.
He averaged three tackles per game and also provided an all-important assist against Guinea which sent Algeria into the quarter-finals.
CB: Kenneth Omeruo
Omeruo hasn’t been a regular fixture in the starting XI for Nigeria in recent years, with Leon Balogun and William Troost-Ekong being preferred at the 2018 World Cup, but the Chelsea man delivered in Egypt.
He was in fine form throughout the Super Eagle’s run to the bronze medal, demonstrating fine defensive work, and he even provided a significant threat at the other end of the pitch, registering a goal and an assist.
He may not have a future at Chelsea, but if he can perform to the same level on a consistent basis then he could prove to be an astute signing this summer.
CB: Djamel Benlamri
Rugged, uncompromising and dependable, Djamel Benlamri was a consistent presence at the back for Algeria.
The 29-year-old, who plays his football in Saudi Arabia, rarely put a foot wrong and formed a formidable partnership alongside Aissa Mandi, helping to keep five clean sheets.
His commitment to the cause was never in doubt, proven by his willingness to carry on in the final despite receiving a nasty blow to the face.
LB: Youssouf Sabaly
A tidy left-back, Youssouf Sabaly enjoyed an impressive tournament for Senegal, playing in every minute of their campaign.
His best performance came in the semi-finals as he ran the show on the left-flank, making countless contributions at the back and getting forward at any given opportunity.
The 26-year-old usually lines up as a right-back for Bordeaux, making his performances on the opposite flank even more admirable.
CM: Idrissa Gueye
Idrissa Gueye has forged a reputation as a tough-tacking defensive midfielder with Everton, but he was asked to play in a more advanced role for Senegal this summer – and did so to great effect.
He didn’t shirk his defensive duties, however, and was deployed as a box-to-box midfielder, providing sufficient support at both ends of the pitch, which is something Everton could look to take advantage of next season.
He notched an assist in the group stages and scored the winning goal against Benin which sent Senegal into the quarter-finals.
CM: Ismael Bennacer
Ismael Bennacer’s outstanding performances for Algeria saw him win the official CAF Player of the Tournament award, so his place in this XI was always going to be guaranteed.
Bennacer pulled the strings from a deep-lying midfield position to dictate the tempo for Algeria, using his excellent range of passing to great effect, contributing to three assists.
The Empoli man is unsurprisingly being linked with a big-money move this summer, with Milan looking to be the leading candidates to land his signature.
AM: Youcef Belaili
Adam Ounas scored a brace in Algeria’s opening game, but he was unable to displace Youcef Belaili in the starting XI for the remainder of the tournament, which exemplifies just how important the Esperance Tunis man was.
He scored two important goals – one being the winner against Guinea in the round of 16 – and was an ever present for Algeria as they marched to success.
His overall performance against Guinea was also one of the best individual displays of the tournament, which is some going when you consider the talent that was on display over the past month.
RW: Riyad Mahrez
Fresh from winning a historic domestic treble with Manchester City, Riyad Mahrez now has an international trophy to add to his growing collection.
He exhibited the same winning mentality which has seen him achieve so much success in the Premier League over the past few years, contributing three goals to Algeria’s cause – including a stunning last minute free-kick to send his side to the final.
The win caps off a successful 12 months for Mahrez and he will now be making the most of a much-deserved break before returning to action with City as they continue their irrepressible dominance.
LW: Sadio Mane
Sadio Mane confessed that he would happily trade in his Champions League winners medal for AFCON glory this summer, but it wasn’t quite to be for the Liverpool man.
Without him, Senegal almost certainly wouldn’t have reached the final in the first place, as he inspired his side with three goals in six games. His tally could have been even more impressive had he converted the two penalties he missed during the course of the tournament.
Like Mahrez, Mane will now be settling down for the summer before returning to action with Liverpool after the start of the Premier League season.
ST: Odion Ighalo
Given the wealth of attacking talent on show in Egypt, very few would have predicted Odion Ighalo to finish the tournament as the winner of the Golden Boot.
The Nigerian striker did just that, scoring five goals in seven appearances for the Super Eagles, which was two more than anyone else managed to achieve.
His overall game wasn’t totally convincing, but his finishing was undeniably excellent and he proved to be the match winner on several occasions, sending Nigeria on their way to the final four.
FIFA Congress To Decide Future Host Of FIFA Women’s World Cup™
Council assigns FIFA Women’s World Cup™ hosting decision to the football governing body’s Congress; also approves financial statements for 2020 and budget for 2022.
Meeting by video conference, the Council conferred to the Congress the decision to award Women’s World Cup™ hosting rights.
Until now, the decision has been taken by the FIFA Council, most recently in June 2020 when the hosting rights for the 2023 edition were awarded to Australia and New Zealand.
As the football governing body seeks to raise the profile of the women’s game, this represents a significant step to bring the Women’s World Cup in line with the flagship men’s competition.
The proposal will be put forward for a final decision by the 71st FIFA Congress, which will meet virtually (for the second time) on 21 May.
International match calendar and release of players.
The FIFA Council received a report on the international football situation during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Bureau of the Council had extended to April 2021 the temporary amendments to the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players regarding the release of players for international duty, and FIFA, the confederations, and its member associations remain in dialogue with national authorities about exemptions from quarantine rules for national team players.
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The FIFA Council recognized that the highest priority in football is the health of the players, and therefore the discussion around the release of players for international duty must maintain this perspective, especially as the public health situation develops around the world.
2020 financials and 2022 budget
The Council also approved the organization’s Annual Report, which contains the financial statements for 2020 and the budget for 2022.
The FIFA Annual Report 2020 focuses on the role played by world football’s governing body in the fight against COVID-19, primarily through the unprecedented COVID-19 Relief Plan, which has made available USD 1.5 billion to support FIFA’s 211 member associations and the confederations through times of financial uncertainty.
The FIFA Annual Report 2020 is available on the official site.
FIFA Arab Cup 2021™
The Council approved the competition regulations for the FIFA Arab Cup 2021, confirming the match schedule and draw procedure for the competition taking place in Qatar from 1 to 18 December this year.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Fédération Internationale de Football Association.
Paul Onuachu: A Victim Of Tactical Deficiency
Ever wondered why Genk forward Paul Onuachu has always been a prolific figure for his club and find it hard to replicate that form with the Super Eagles when invited?
The Nigeria international has been in awesome form for the Blue-White, scoring 26 goals in the Jupiler League this season for Genk, while his scoring prowess at his club has been a contrast to his form with the national team under Gernot Rohr scoring just once in 9 games despite being a top performer at club level.
Ahead of the AFCON qualifier doubleheader against Lesotho and the Benin Republic, Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr named his 23 man list with the inform former Midtjylland forward listed as one of the standby players.
Onuachu’s struggles with the Super Eagles in previous games he featured is quite baffling, considering the excitement that greeted his first appearance with the national team plus the impressive form he’s currently in.
The job of every manager is to find a suitable position or fashion out tactics that would be suitable for their players in other to blend with the team approaches to every match. In Onuachu’s case, he hasn’t been fortunate enough to blend in with Rohr’s tactics. While at club level, Midtjylland plays to his strength.
However, due to Napoli’s players been restricted from traveling, the Genk forward made it through the backdoor to replace Gernot Rohr’s number one forward Victor Osimhen who hasn’t really hit the ground running with the ‘Partenopei‘, but when with the Eagles, he never fails to deliver.
It’s no doubt that the lanky striker has failed to deliver in his previous games, disappointing the ever-demanding Nigerian football enthusiasts with unforgiving backlashes from the fans. However, his prolific prowess with his club suggests otherwise and consistently makes a case for him to be integrated into the team with a different tactical approach that suits his style.
The era of a target man may have been long gone in football due to the advent of new tactics that have brought about a series of changes in the game. With managers preferring to go with a fast, skillful, or makeshift winger- kind of striker, instead of a target man.
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Looking at how Paul Onuachu plays with Genk upfront shows he’s one of the best target men in football, despite been perceived by many as a slow and old-fashioned kind of forward. However, John van den Bromm has been able to carve out a tactic that suits him which has been evident with his prolific form irrespective of his style of play.
Onuachu’s Super Eagle future might be on the knife-edge with Gernot Rohr not finding the right tactics that suit the Genk forward, especially with him not been consider as the go-to man despite his blistering runs of form in Belgium.
In recent times Rohr’s philosophy of vibrant attacking football with an emphasis on passing in the final third which requires the expertise of brilliant players to implement such tactics hasn’t really favored him.
Having a player in the mold of Onuachu gives Rohr another tactical option and an alternative style of play should the initial approach fails to work as expected, but the German tactician hasn’t really taken advantage of what the man could offer with a different opponent.
Onuachu’s presence in the Super Eagles team should be an added advantage in terms of variety when the normal approach of the manager fails. With an in-form striker on the bench, it could prove valuable, but in the former Midtjylland’s case, Gernot Rohr doesn’t seem to see him as a player that has a future with the national team.
Players in the mold of the Nigerian are quite physically imposing as the point man, though they may not offer the team excellent off-the-ball movement in some cases. However, they often find a way to provide an opportunity which the team could utilize when attacking or defending.
Onuachu’s inability to show a good turn of pace and smart footwork may have been one of the deficiencies that are affecting his chances of blending perfectly into the team.
However, the job of a manager is to help players blend in perfectly, and that’s exactly what Gernot Rohr should be doing. Not only for Onuachu but for every other player who are always finding it hard to replicate club form with the National Team.