Our football analyst previews the 2019 AFCON semifinal fixtures which take place this Sunday.
Four great footballing nations who’ve richly contributed to this AFCON’s compelling narrative once again grace Egypt’s capital with their presence as the penultimate stage unfolds. Hearts all over the continent pump for Senegal, Tunisia, Algeria or Nigeria with two spots in the final up for grabs! Here’s some insight…
AFCON Semi-Final | Sunday 14 July | 30 June Stadium | 18:00
To Win Match (90 Mins)
The Lions of Taranga have now been installed by bookmakers as the favourites to win the AFCON. They have won four of their five games so far in the competition with their superstar Sadio Mane being amongst the tournament’s leading goalscorers, finding the back of the net on three occasions. Had it not been for the two penalties he missed, he would be on five goals and he knows that winning this tournament can maximise his chance of becoming the African Footballer of the Year.
This is their chance to equal their best ever AFCON record, having reached only one final back in 2002. This could actually be their best chance to win their first ever AFCON and their star-studded team should be able to do the job against Tunisia.
The north Africans last tasted AFCON glory in 2004 and in the current campaign, they’ve endured a turbulent spell with four regulation time draws being enough to see them through. The quarter-final stage saw them annihilate Madagascar 3-0. It shall be interesting to see how their non-venomous attack penetrates the resolute Senegalese defence.
As much as Tunisian players are familiar with African conditions, Senegalese quality should be too strong for them and I’m backing Sadio Mane and company to come up trumps here.
AFCON Semi-Final | Sunday 14 July | Cairo International Stadium | 21:00
To Win Match (90 Mins)
Algeria have won four of their five games so far in this competition and only a missed penalty denied them a regulation time victory against Ivory Coast in the previous stage. Players like Riyad Mahrez, Sofiane Feghouli, Islam Slimani and Napoli ace, Adam Ounas have really shown their quality against locally-based players.
Ounas is among the tournament’s leading goalscorers and this is his chance to outscore his counterparts. Speaking of leading scores, Nigeria’s Odion Ighalo is one of them and his side won’t go down without a fight. The Super Eagles needed a last-gasp winner to beat South Africa 2-1 in the quarter-finals.
These sides met in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers with Nigeria winning 3-1 at home and losing 3-0 on foreign soil. This should be a tightly-contested encounter but I foresee Nigeria’s weaknesses in defence giving Algeria a better chance of winning. Back the favourites to triumph and set a mouth-watering final match up against Senegal.
Written by @EgssBenedictZA