The African Cup of Nations has reached its most competitive stage. The quarter final matches played on Tuesday and Thursday saw an introduction of the Video Assisted Referee (VAR) for the first time in African football. The technology would eventually play a role in giving South Africa’s Bafana Bafana a much-needed goal against Nigeria.
The South Africans had earlier given a good record of themselves against the host, Egypt. Their sensationalism and spirited attack on the field made the South Africa versus Egypt match one of the most entertaining in the tournament. Bafana Bafana didn’t bring the energy from their match with Egypt into their match with Nigeria and the Southern Africans were a bit guarded in their attack. Samuel Chukwueze broke the deadlock in the 27th minute to put Nigeria ahead before a struggling Bafana Bafana equalised in the 71st minute with a Bongani Zungu goal. In the 89th minute, Nigeria pulled a fast one when a corner kick was netted by defender William Troost-Ekong. The goal sealed the hopes of the boys from South Africa who weren’t as daring with the Nigerians as they were against the Egyptians.
The 2019 edition of the African Cup of Nations saw a more diverse group of teams with a better representation from the East African countries. Although all three countries, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania didn’t advance past the group stage, it was a time to showcase what East Africa football is all about.
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The contention in the African Cup of Nations has most times pitted West African teams against North African teams. The semi-finals which comprise of both West and North African teams would have seen an upset if Madagascar had beaten Tunisia. The Madagascar team made its AFCON debut in 2019 and beat Nigeria 2 – 0 at the group stage. The massive upset put Madagascar as group leaders and made them a team to watch out for. Yesterday, Tunisia’s Eagles of Carthage put an end to their dream of advancing to the semi-finals in a 3 – 0 victory.
Aliou Cissé’s Teranga Lions edged out Benin Republic in the quarter finals. Senegal has shown consistent output on the field and has been a favourite team for many since its performance at the Russia 2018 World Cup. The Squirrel’s of Benin Republic had ousted the Atlas Lions of Morocco in their group of 16 encounter, recording one of the major upsets in the AFCON 2019 tournament. Benin’s loss to Senegal came with near encounters at the Senegalese goal, including what would have been an own goal by Senegal’s goalkeeper Alfred Gomis.
Cote d’Ivoire lost to Algeria on penalties. The Elephants, as the Ivorian team is known, crashed out after Swansea striker Wilfried Bony missed a penalty. Nigeria will face Algeria in the semi-finals and Senegal will battle it out with Tunisia for a place in the finals.