The 2019 All African Games Soccer event is an all-West African affair from the semifinal stages as Nigeria’s Flying Eagles is set to again meet Mali for the second time this year in the first semifinal and Senegal will meet Burkina Faso in the second semifinal on Tuesday.
Mali had decision Nigeria 2-1 in another continental duel final at the Niger Republic earlier in the year so Nigeria will be spoiling for revenge now. Nigeria wants to improve on the Gold she won at Lagos in 1973; the two silver medals at Algiers in 1978 (lost to Algeria 1-0), also at Abuja in 2003 (lost to Cameroon 0-2) as well as the three bronze medals in 1991 at Cairo (beat Zimbabwe 3-0), in 1995 at Harare, Zimbabwe (beat Guinea 4-1 on penalties after 1-1 at full rime) and in 2015 at Brazzaville (defeated hosts Congo 5-3 on penalties after a goalless full time).
In group A hosts Morocco defeated South Africa 1-0; Nigeria played 1-1 with Burkina Faso in first round. In the second round, Nigeria beat South Africa 2-1 while Morocco lost to Burkina Faso 2-0. In the last group matches, luck smiled on Nigeria when they came back twice to play 2-2 with Morocco and sent the hosts to the stands on Friday while Burkina Faso drubbed South Africa 4-0.
Defending champions, Senegal played goalless with Mali in their first group match while Ghana got a 2-1 victory over Burundi. In the second round, Senegal edged Ghana 1-0 while Mali spanked Burundi 3-0. Last Saturday, Ghana was surprisingly sent home by Mali 4-2 while Senegal confirmed their group superiority with a summary 2-0 victory over Burundi.
Only Nigeria and Senegal has ever won the AAG Men’s soccer title once each in 1973 and 2015 respectively among the four teams standing. Nigeria has bagged silver twice and bronze thrice. Mali got a bronze once at the 1987 Games in Nairobi, Kenya when she defeated Cameroon 1-0.
The Men’s Soccer finals will be played on Thursday, 29th August after the 3rd place match.
- ENIOLA OLATUNJI.