The 32nd edition of the African Cup of Nations can be arguably said to be the most anticipated of all Afcon Tournaments.
This is not just because of the level of awareness created for the competition but as well because a whole lot of countries more than usual will be participating at this year’s event.
Therefore, this means that a higher number of fans across the continent at large will be following the proceedings in Egypt. With 24 teams now playing at the competition and as well the schedule being in the summer where majority of leagues in Europe are in their off season, the followership is expected to increase.
However, while the opening game of the competition and the final match is usually well watched by millions of fans, there are various other groups stage games and potential knockout round fixtures which can pass as the final before the final. We take a look at some of the the fixtures you should not miss this AFCON.
Egypt v DR Congo
Venue: Cairo International Stadium
Date: 26/06/2019 Time: 9pm
You may argue that Egypt have a relatively easy group with Zimbabwe and Uganda pitched with the hosts but it is the second group game with D.R. Congo that will likely worry the Egyptians.
If you compare or refer the game to as a clash similar to Al Alhy and TP Mazembe, then you may not wrong. Both teams have a good mixture of home based players and foreign based players. While Egypt has 14 players from the Egyptian league in their 23-man squad, DR Congo boasts of Five playing in the country’s local league.
While Egypt can boast of Africa’s biggest export currently in the mould of Mo Salah, DR Congo can bank on Cedric Bakambu and Yannick Bolaise to deliver the goods.
Although, Egypt is expected to make it out of the group, however, should the opening game against Zimbabwe go against the Pharaohs and DR Congo fails to get the maximum point against Uganda in their own opener, the game will be a win or burst affair for both sides and it will be left for the team that wants it most for the taking.
Senegal v Algeria
Venue: 30 June stadium
Date: 27/06/2019. Time: 6pm
This would likely be a battle of supremacy in Group C, a game which decides who tops the group which also consist of Kenya and Tanzania as well.
While Senegal are on a six-game winning streak and with one more game before they face the Algerians, the North Africans also boast of a six-game unbeaten run with 4 wins and 2 draws.
With both sides known for their offensive type of play and the quality of players at their disposal, the match will have no shortage of neutrals watching on.
Moreso, while Liverpool Saido Mane and Napoli defender Kalidou Coulibaly will be on the team for the west Africans, barring any injury, Manchester City’s Riyadh Mahrez will be leading the line for Algeria. At least a tint of English Premier League display for the English fans.
Ivory Coast v South Africa
Venue: Al Salam Stadium
Date: 24/06/2019. Time 3:30pm
If anyone thinks the Bafana Bafana of South Africa are push overs then such persons need to meet the Super Eagles of Nigeria for a recount of how difficult it was to nick a point in two matches against the 2013 hosts.
Ivory Coast on the other hand may feel confident going into the fixture on Sunday but may be wary of their opponents who have not lost in 12 games. However, the game is expected to be a high scoring match both teams possessing fast paced and skillful forwards in Nicolas Pepe and Wilfred Zaha for the west Africans and Percy Tau for the South Africans.
Why else do we watch football if not for the flair and the goals?
Morocco v Ivory Coast
Venue: Al Salam Stadium
Date: 28/06/2019. Time: 6pm
Should the game between South Africa and Ivory coast not interest you that much, it’s however certain you would likely not want to miss Morocco against the Elephants of Cote D’Voire.
Anytime any day this is a clash that will interest most neutral, most especially with the opportunity to see the left footed Ajax forward, Hakim Ziyech on display, it is a chance not many would likely turn down.
Also it is a match that will potentially decide the group winners, and after all said and done, you may want to hope Namibia have done their defensive home work with a pass mark, there is no need stating what will happen if otherwise.
Cameroon v Ghana
Venue: Ismailia Stadium
Date: 29/06/2019. Time: 7pm
Second most successful team at the AFCON and defending Champions, Teranga Lions of Cameroon were pitted in an easy group with Benin and Guinea-bissau who was coincidentally also in their group in 2017.
However, in Ghana they have an opponent and a rival, the black stars may still be searching for their first AFCON title in close to 30years, nevertheless, they are no push overs at all.
Although both teams are expected to make it out of the group, the clash between the two power houses in African football is a final before the main final. Not many would pass the chance to see the game, not many Nigerians would for sure.
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.
READ ALSO: Mosengo-Omba Is CAF New General Secretary
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.
READ ALSO: Super Eagles: 9 Players Who Netted On Debut
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.