The mighty teams fell like pack of cards in the first leg of the knock out stages of the 32nd edition of the African Cup of Nations holding in Egypt.
Six of the eight teams that were shoved out in the Round of 16 matches were actually top teams that were on top list to lift the coveted football trophy. Morocco, nicknamed Atlas Lions, were winners in 1976 rated 45th in the world and 4th in Africa; Democratic Republic of Congo, winners in 1968 and 2008 rated 46th in the world and 5th in Africa; Ghana Black Stars, who were four times winners in 1963, 1965, 1978 and 1982 rated 49th in the world and 6th in Africa.
The other three top teams are the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon who were defending champions and five times winners in1984, 1988, 2000, 2002 and 2017 rated 54th in the world and 7th in Africa; Hosts Pharaohs of Egypt are the longest appearing team coming 24th time to the party, they are the most prolific title holders having won the trophy a record seven times, 1957, 1959, 1986, 1998,2006, 2008 and 2010 are rated 57th in the world and 5th in Africa and we have Eagles of Mali who were never champions but runners-up in 1972 are 65th in the world and 9th.
The two other teams are the Syli Nationale of Guinea, never champions but runners-up in 1976 rated 68th in the world and 11th in Africa as well as the Ugandan Cranes who were also champions but runners-up in1978 rated 79th in the world and 14th in Africa.
The goals are scarce to get in Egypt. A total of 19 goals were scored in the R16 and 87 goals so far making an average of two goals per match. Of the 87 goals, Algerian team scored the highest of 9 goals which is what the highest goal scorer of the world U20 football scored in one match. Madagascar is the second highest scoring team with 7 goals.
Five players are gunning for the Golden boot for highest scorer with three goals each. They are Christopher Bukambu of Congo who is out of contention because his team is out. The four others are Sadio Mane of Liverpool and Teranga Lions of Senegal; R. Mahrez and A. Ounas of Algeria as well the pre-tournament highest scorer with 9 goals, Odion Ighalo of Nigeria. The highest scorer in a single tournament is Ndaye Mulamba of Zaire (now Congo) who scored 9 goals at the AFCON of 1974. In the AFCON, the top scorer in a single match was Laurent Poku of Ivory Coast who scored 5 goals against Ethiopia in 1970. The match ended 6-1.
One of the peculiarities of knockout stages, is when a match goes beyond the extra time and end in the “GAME OF DEATH’’ or penalty shootouts. Three matches ended like that in the R16 stage. The Swallows of Benin who have never gone beyond the group stages played a determined encounter against the Atlas of Morocco and the center Referee. It was 1-1 after extra time and in the resultant penalties, Benin scored 4 and Morocco made one goal. Then came debutante ‘giant killers’, Bereans of Madagascar who clipped Super Eagles wings 2-0 at the group stage. That team comes from the home country of sitting CAF President, Ahmad. It was 2-2 after extra time against Congo before the team with the abbreviation MAD poked in 4 penalties and Cog scored just 2. Madagascar has the record of being the only team coming to the AFCON party for the first time and reaching the quarters. Like the slang in the ancient city with the seven broken hills of Africa, Ibadan “ko sele ri” (It has never happened). Ghana got a gift of an own goal like that of Godwin Odiye when he headed home in 1977 at the National Stadium, Lagos when Nigeria needed just a draw to be at the 1978 world cup. Ghana versus Tunisia ended 1-1 but Tunisia scored 5 penalties while Ghana scored 4. The Ghanaian boys wept sore like Hannah in the Bible.
It is normal to see players weeping and wailing in age group football but in Egypt, we saw the weeping and gnashing of teeth as well as tsunamis. Most notable was Egypt that disbanded the players for disappointing the nation. The coach and the entire coaching crew were sacked by the Egyptian FA boss. He himself resigned. Then the whole lot of the FA board bowed out. I wonder who CAF will be dealing with now. The loss pained the entire country of Egypt to their marrows that their talisman, Mohammed Salah had to beg the nation. Egypt lost in a shock match to South Africa 0-1 scored by Lorch in the 85th minute. The Congolese coach resigned and got an appointment in Egypt. Emmanuel Amunike from Nigeria who was coach of Taifa Stars of Tanzania was rumored to be sacked but he quickly refuted that.
The number of bad boys that got the red cards is now four. Christpher Nduweru of Burundi; John Boye of Ghana; Khaled Adenou of Benin Republic and Philemon Otieno of Kenya.
See score sheet.
Mor 1(1) V Ben 1(4)
Uga 0 V Sen 1
Nga 3 V Cam 2
Egy 0 V RSA 1
Mad 2(4) V Cog 2(4)
Alg 3 V Gui 0
CIV 1 V Mli 0
Gha 1(4) V Tun 1(5)
Quarter final pairings/
Date Team V Team Time
10/07 Sen Ben 5pm
10/07 Nga RSA 8pm
11/07 CIV Alg 5pm
11/07 MAD Tun 8pm
The Super Eagles celebrated that victory at their hotel in Alexandria but they have since moved to Cairo where the team will play the nest match at the Cairo International Stadium.
- ENIOLA OLATUNJI