The 32nd Edition of the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt has ended with the Desert Foxes of Algeria crowned as champions for the second time after beating the Teranga Lions of Senegal 1-0. Baghdad Bounedjah’s lone strike was enough to seal victory for the Algerian’s, having won their first Afcon Cup in 1990.
The Tournament produced some surprises as some Top footballing Nations were shocked by some underdogs in the competition. The decision by CAF to increase the number of teams from 16 to a 24 team tournament paid off. Madagascar who made their debut in the tournament showed some signs of promises as they topped their group with seven (7) points beating the likes of Nigeria who are three (3) times winners of the competition. They also defeated two (2) times winners DR Congo in the Round of 16, winners in 1968 and in 1974 when it was hosted in Egypt, the same place it’s been hosted in 2019. Before exiting in the Quarter Finals of the Tournament. For Madagascar it is a tournament to remember. There were other shocking results in the competition as the Squirrels of Benin who qualified as one of the best 3rd place team in the group stages and having never won an Afcon match in their history in their 4 Afcon appearances. They defeated tournament favourites Morocco who had Nine (9) points in the group stages 4-1 on Penalties. Their best ever run in the competition. Not forgetting the Bafana Bafana of South Africa who defeated the Host Nation Egypt after qualifying as one of the best 3rd teams in the group stages. Debutant’s Burundi and Mauritania didn’t perform well in the competition, but the experience gained in the tournament will help the team stage a comeback in the next edition of the tournament in 2021.
The Video Assistant Referee (VAR) was used in the tournament for the first time. There were concerns by some football loving fans why CAF will wait till the Quarter Finals of the competition before using the VAR. Kwesi Appiah who’s the Coach of the Black Stars of Ghana in a post game conference after the game against Tunisia in the Round of 16 blamed the absence of VAR for Ghana’s defeat in the competition.
“If VAR was in use, automatically Ayew’s goal would have stood. We all know the benefits that technology has brought to football
“It’s my suggestion that moving forward, CAF would implement right from the onset, instead of waiting till the Quarter Finals.
“I’m not saying this because it will benefit only one team. If it’s implemented, it benefits everybody,” Appiah said at the post game conference.
Not withstanding the introduction of the VAR in the Quarter Finals of the competition it was helpful especially when Nigeria were awarded a penalty against Algeria after reviews from the VAR showed it was a penalty. Also Tunisia were also denied a Penalty against Senegal and Senegal were also denied a Penalty against Algeria after reviews from the VAR showed it wasn’t a penalty.
The last time the VAR was used in the CAF competition was in the Second leg of the Champions league final in May between Esperance of Tunisia and Wydad Casablanca of Morocco was abandoned in a row after the absence of the VAR when it had been scheduled to be used. Referee Papa Bakary Gassama disallowed a goal by Wydad Casablanca, they stormed off in protest that VAR had not been consulted even though they had been informed before the game that the system was not operational.
The 2019 AFCON has seen the most goals scored in a single tournament 102 goals. With the expansion of the AFCON from 16 to 24 teams.
Odion Ighalo of Nigeria won the AFCON Golden Boot after scoring 5 goals becoming the Sixth Nigerian in AFCON History to win the Award.
Ismael Bennacer of Algeria was named the Best Player of the Tournament, becoming the second Algerian after former Algerian Striker Rabah Madjer in AFCON 1990.
What did you make of the competition? Were Algeria worthy winners? Let us know in the comments below!