The 2019 AFCON continues today at 17:00 CAT with the final round of fixtures in the group stage in Groups A and B.
Burundi vs Guinea (Al Salam Stadium, 17:00 CAT)
Though winless in their first two games, the Swallows of Burundi and the National Elephants of Guinea could book a place in the round of 16 with victory today.
The Syli National of Guinea were held to a surprising 2-2 draw against Madagascar in their opening fixture then lost narrowly to Nigeria 1-0 thanks to Kenneth Omeruo’s header. However, with four places up for grabs by the four best third placed teams in the six groups both a win today could see them through to the round of 16.
Burundi have lost their opening two fixtures to Nigeria and Burundi but a win could still see them through to the round of 16.
Guinea goes into this game with team captain and talisman Naby Keita being a serious doubt. The 24 year old Liverpool midfielder has not fully recovered from that injury which kept him on the sideline from May 1st 2019 until he featured for Guinea against Nigeria.
Keita told Guinean website kibaro224.com that though he is passed to be fine, he is not certain to feature in today’s game:
“A Liverpool doctor checked me yesterday and I was fine. I’m not going to say I’m sure I’ll play tomorrow,” Keita is said to the website yesterday.
This will be the first time Guinea and Burundi are meeting at the AFCON.
The Syli National are winless in their last seven games in the competition (D5, L2), their longest win drought ever in the tournament.
They have failed to keep a clean sheet in each of their last 14 games in the AFCON (conceding 25 goals in those 14 games), with their last clean sheet in the tournament coming on January 30th 2006 against Tunisia in a 3-0 win.
Burundi could become the third nation to have failed to score in their first three games in the AFCON, after Ethiopia in 1957-1959 and Mozambique in 1986.
This will be the fourth meeting between both teams in all competitions, the previous three games have ended in draws, but none of them will wish for a similar outcome in this one.
Guinea are the favourites to win this contest but they will have to fight for the win.
Players to Watch
Fiston Abdul Razak (Burundi)
Position: Forward Club: JS Kabylie Age: 25
He was their top scorer in the qualifiers with six goals, but is yet to get off the mark in the tournament. He will be keen to score in this game and become his country’s first ever AFCON goal scorer.
Simon Falette (Guinea)
Position: Defender Club: Eintracht Frankfurt Age: 27
He has attempted 103 passes, with 93 being successful. He has been Guinea’s stand-out player in the tournament with Naby Keita struggling with fitness.
Madagascar vs Nigeria (Alexandria Stadium, 17:00 CAT)
The Super Eagles of Nigeria have already qualified for the round of 16, but only a win or a draw against new comers Madagascar will guarantee top spot in the Group.
Three time winners Nigeria take on the Barea of Madagascar with top spot in the group at Stake for Nigeria and a place in the 16 for Madagasar and top spot still within their reach.
Nigeria battled to scrappy 1-0 wins against Burundi and Guinea and will not complain if the same happened today against Madagascar
Madagascar have showed great ambition in their opening two fixtures, with a well deserved draw against Guinea and a win against fellow debutants Burundi.
Madagascar could become the seventh nation to go unbeaten in their opening first three games in the AFCON, and the first since Cape Verde Islands in the 2013 tournament.
29 year old Madagascar forward Charles Andriamahitsinoro who plays his professional football for Saudi Arabia based club Ohod has been involved in two of Madagascar’s three goals, scoring one and assisting another. He has also attempted four of their eight shots on target.
The Super Eagles of Nigeria have won their last games at the AFCON – only Egypt have a better run in the history of the tournament with nine wins between February 2008 and January 2010.
Nigeria have already qualified for the knockout stages, this being the 13th successive occasion in which they have advanced beyond the group stage.
It is going to be the fifth meeting between the two nations and their first in the AFCON. Nigeria have won three and Madagascar earning a draw in their previous four meetings.
Madagascar have not shown any complex so far in the competition, but a win against Nigeria though not so convincing so far in the competition will be a big ask.
Players to Watch
Faneva Imà Andriatsima (Madagascar)
Position: Forward Club: Clermont Age:35
He was Madagacars stand out player in the qualifiers and has been really good as a lone front man but yet to get off the mark. He will be keen to get his first AFCON goal and Nigeria will be just the kind of opponent he will gladly do so against.
Onyinye Wilfred Ndidi (Nigeria)
Position: Midfilelder Club: Leicester City Age: 22
He has had a solid not but so eye catching display in Nigeria’s midfield in their previous two games. He is the man who breaks the play of the opposition, he is their unsung hero, a worker in the shadows but very vital for this Nigerian team. If he plays today, keep an eye on him.
Uganda vs Egypt (Cairo International Stadium, 20:00 CAT)
The Cranes of Uganda have surprised many with their results so far in Egypt especially with that 2-0 win against the DRC, a win today against Egypt will see them grabbing top spot in Group A.
Egypt have already qualified for the knockout stages of the competition after wins against Zimbabwe and the DRC, but the top spot in the group will only come from a draw or a win against Uganda today.
With a win and a draw in their opening two fixtures, Uganda are not yet certain to make it to the round of 16 though they have a good chance to.
History is not in favour of the Cranes who have won just two of their last 20 meetings, with Egypt winning 15 and three ending in draws.
Uganda have lost their four games against Egypt in the AFCON. They are the team Egypt have faced the most in the tournament with a 100% win percentage (4/4).
The Cranes have lost all their four games against the host nation including one against Egypt in the 1974 tournament, which is the only one Egypt hosted and failed to win.
The Ugandans are unbeaten in their last three AFCON games (W1, D2), their longest such run ever in the tournament, after losing 14 of their first 18 (W3, D1).
The Pharaohs of Egypt are unbeaten in their last 15 group-stage games in the AFCON (W11, D4). They have only lost one of their last 27 games in the tournament (W20, D6), their only loss game in the 2017 final against Cameroon.
Players to Watch
Emmanuel Okwi (Uganda)
Position: Forward Club: Simba FC Age: 26
A lot is expected from HNK Gorica’s 21 year old midfielder Farouk Miya, but Simba FC one of Tanzania’s top two teams has a worthy ambassador in Egypt in 26 year old Ugandan forward Emmanuel Arnold Okwi. He is now Uganda’s all time top scorer with 23 goals in his 72 caps. Okwi with already two goals in this tournament he will be Uganda’s player to watch.
Mahmoud Ahmed Ibramim Hassan ‘Trezeguet’ (Egypt)
Position: Midfielder Club: Kasımpaşa S.K. Age: 24
The star of the Egyptian team is without any doubt Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah. But midfielder Mahmoud Trezeguet is having the tournament of his life. He scored Egypt’s goal in their opening fixture against Zimnbabwe, his first goal in the AFCON on his seventh game in the tournament. He provided a beautifully worked assist to Salah in Egypt’s second goal against the DRC. While Salah takes all the attention Trezeguet does all the work.
Zimbabwe vs DRC (30 June Stadium, 20:00 CAT)
The Warriors of Zimbabwe will be looking for their first AFCON win since 2006 against a DRC team that they claimed 4 points against in the qualifiers for this tournament.
Zimbabwe lost their opening game against host Egypt and played a 1-1 draw with Uganda in their second game.
The 1968 and 1974 winners the DRC have so far underperformed in the tournament with two losses in their opening two fixtures.
The only team to have won an AFCON hosted in Egypt apart from the host country in the previous four occasions could be eliminated from the competition today if they fail to win, though even a win will not guarantee them a place in the round of 16.
The Warriors of Zimbabwe are winless in five AFCON games (D2, L3), after winning two of their previous four (L2).
They have failed to keep a clean sheet in each of their 11 games played in the AFCON, conceding 23 goals.
To beat the DRC, captain Knowledge Musona who has been involved in two of Zimbabwe’s past three goals in the AFCON with a goal and an assist, will have to be at his best today. The forward who plays his professional football at Lokeren on loan from Aderlecht in Belgium, scored five goals in the qualifiers but is yet to get off the mark in Egypt with some alarming misses.
The DRC have been eliminated in the group stage of the AFCON in four of their past eight appearances in the tournament, after qualifying the knockout stages in each of their previous four participations.
It’s going to be the fifth meeting between both teams, with Zimbabwe having the advantage with wins against one for the DRC with the other game ending in a draw.
It promises to be a tight game with Zimbabwe looking to be the better side.
Players to Watch
Emmanuel Arnold Okwi (Uganda)
Position: Forward Club: Simba FC Age: 26
A lot of attention is placed on HNK Gorica’s 21 year old goal scoring midfielder Farouk Miya, but in Emmanuel Okwi, Uganda has a serial goal scorer. The Simba FC forward has now scored 23 goals in 72 appearances for the Cranes to become their all time leading goal scorer alongside Miya. In him, Simba FC one of the top two Tanzanian clubs have a worthy ambassador in Egypt.
Knowledge Musona (Zimbabwe)
Position: Forward Club: Anderlecht Age: 29
Zimbabwe’s captain and top scorer with five goals in the qualifiers is yet to find the back of the net in Egypt with some inexplicable misses. If Zimbabwe are to get anything from this game, Musona has to be at his best again. So far he has shown glimpses of his potentials, though Khama Billiat has been their outstanding player in the competition in their previous two games.