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AFCON 2019


15 July 2019, by: Leonard Solms


Senegal and Algeria booked their places in Friday’s 2019 Africa Cup of Nations final at the Cairo International Stadium with wins over Tunisia and Nigeria respectively on Sunday.

The Lions of Teranga and the Desert Foxes have been the best teams throughout the course of the tournament, but the Carthage Eagles and Super Eagles both fought valiantly in the semis and can count themselves unlucky.


The top African team in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Rankings, Senegal, faces an Algeria side which has been the best so far at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations. Algeria have already beaten Senegal 1-0 in the group stages but that has been the only game in their last 12 that the Lions of Teranga haven’t won.

Few who watched them at last year’s World Cup will be surprised to see Senegal come this far. Aliou Cissé’s team was undoubtedly Africa’s best at the tournament, They were eliminated in the group stage by Japan on the fair play rule amid contentious circumstances as the Samurai Blue and Poland strolled through the last 15 minutes of their clash.

Senegal responded well to that heartbreak, embarking on an incredible run of form, but they need to get over the line this time for this team to go down in history.

The Lions of Teranga’s only previous Afcon final appearance was in 2002 and even that legendary team stumbled at the final hurdle. Ironically, the man who missed the penalty which gave Cameroon the cup was none other than Aliou Cissé.

As fate would have it, the man who stands between Cissé and the prize he has craved all these years is Algeria boss Djamel Belmadi, a friend who grew up in the same neighbourhood in Paris. If the group stage taught us one thing, it is that the Desert Foxes will not hand out any favours once the white line is crossed. To them, this is war.

It has been a memorable year in Algerian history with president Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigning after 20 years following mass protests. The country is not in any mood to bow down to anyone and neither is their football team.

Supporters came out in droves to cheer them to a 2-1 semi-final win over Nigeria, sealed by a spectacular Riyad Mahrez free-kick. On the pitch, they have been utterly ruthless in every sense.

Algeria picked up three yellow cards against the Super Eagles but none which resulted in suspension. Senegal, by contrast, will be without star centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly following his contentious booking for handball in the 1-0 extra time win over Tunisia.


Nigeria and Tunisia limped to the Afcon semi-finals and it was little surprise to see both crash out against opponents who have looked superior all tournament. They now do battle for bronze on Wednesday at Cairo’s Al Salam Stadium.

It is tough to call this match as Tunisia, Africa’s second-ranked team, are better on paper but have had a poor tournament. The Super Eagles have not been at their best but have nevertheless picked up four wins to Tunisia’s one in regulation time.

Chidozie Awaziem will miss the match after being yellow carded for dissent against Algeria. Naïm Sliti and Wahbi Khazri were booked for Tunisia against Senegal but neither were ruled out of the Carthage Eagles’ final game.



Leonard Solms is a sports journalist who features regularly on various local and international platforms including ESPN, New Frame, FARPost, Tagged Online and Careers Magazine, as well as this one. He enjoys the occasional bet and the most important tip he can give you is to bet within your means.

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