The 2019 AFCON continues today at 15:30 CAT with the second round of games in Group B and C.
Madagascar vs Burundi (Alexandria Stadium, 15:30 CAT)
AFCON debutants Madagascar and Burundi will meet today for their second games ever in the competition.
Madagascar have already recorded their first point in the competition thanks to that heroic 2-2 draw against Guinea in a game they could have won.
Burundi pushed Nigeria all the way if not of some great saves from Nigerian goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi and Odion Ighalo’s 77th minute strike the outcome of the game could have been different.
Madagascar are ranked 108th in the world and have an advantage over Burundi who are ranked 134th. Madagascar’s French coach Nicolas Dupius has warned against complacency and will not let his charges get overly confident.
“It would be a great risk if we underestimate the opponents, it’s a difficult match and Burundi is a great and stubborn team. We have to be really focused and prepared,” he told reporters.
“We know a win will move us closer to our next target. We’ve prepare for this and we are ready. They will come hard because they lost against Nigeria. We hope to win for the country,” Dupius said.
Burundi’s display against Nigeria was hugely saluted, but for coach Alain Olivier Niyungeko that will have little or no bearing in today’s game.
“It will be a tough game because I have watched Madagascar and they are not a light team, it will be tough for us. We have already played one final against Nigeria and lost, but now we have to look at the remaining two finals, starting Thursday,” Niyungeko said.
“We know losing will be tough for us, so we have to ensure we get the three points,” he added.
It will be the first time both teams are playing against each other in the AFCON , and the first time that two teams making their AFCON debuts have faced each other since South Africa played against Angola in the 1996 tournament.
The Swallows of Burundi could become the 16th team to lose their first two games in the AFCON if they are beaten by Madagascar.
It going to be a fairly balanced contest but Madagascar has a slight advantage.
Players to Watch
Anicet Andrianantenaina (Madagascar)
Position: Midfielder Club: PFC Ludogorets Razgrad Age: 29
Playing his professional football in Bulgaria, 29 year old midfielder Andrainantenaina was the stand-out player for the Barea(indicine cattle or humped cattle) against Guinea. With 74 touches of the ball and 88.7% pass accuracy, he also won eight of 10 duels he was involved in and crowned his five star performance with a goal.
Gael Bigirimana (Burundi)
Position: Midfielder Club: Hibernian FC Age: 25
Hibernian midfielder Gael Bigirimana was at the heart of everything good in Burundi’s good display against Nigeria. The 25 year old midfielder created three chances in that game which his teammates Cedric Amissi and Fiston Abdul Razak failed to capitalize on.
Senegal vs Algeria (30 June Stadium, 18:00 CAT)
The Teranga Lions will want to follow up their win against Tanzania with another win against Algeria. Algeria and Senegal are among the favourites to go all the way in the competition and both teams started the competition with 2-0 wins.
Two of Africa’s top players will face each other, as Sadio Mane returns from suspension for Senegal to face captain Riyad Mahrez who has already opened his goal scoring account in the completion in their first game.
Algeria are unbeaten against Senegal in the Africa Cup of Nations ( W2, D1), which is a record Aliou Cisse and his charges will try to end today. But the last time Algeria beat Senegal in the AFCON was more than eleven years ago.
If Algeria beat Senegal, they would have succeeded to win two games in a row in the AFCON for the fisrt time since 1996.
As for Senegal, they have won three of their previous five games in the Africa Cup of Nations (D2), as many as in their previous 17 (D4, L10).
Out of 21 previous meetings, Senegal have won just four. Five matches were draws and Algeria have the upper hand with 12 wins.
Senegal’s 10 shots on target against Tanzania show that they are a very attacking team and they will keep the Algerian back line on their toes.
In a game considered by many as the clash between Mane and Mahrez, 22nd ranked Senegal has an advantage over 68th ranked Algeria on the recent FIFA rankings, but the rankings aside, it promises to be an exciting game and one of the must watch ties of AFCON 2019.
Players to Watch
Sadio Mane (Senegal)
Position: Forward Club: Liverpool Age: 27
Sadio Mane will return to captain Senegal today after missing their first game due to suspension. The Liverpool striker will want to lead by example and he is more than capable of doing so.
Ismaila Sarr, Kalilou Koulibaly, Mbaye Niang, Keita Balde and Krepin Diatta were the star players against Tanzania, they will have to do even better against Algeria.
Riyah Mahrez (Algeria)
Position: Winger Club: Manchester City Age: 28
After grabbing his 11th goal in 47 caps against Kenya, Riyad Mahrez will be Algeria’s player to watch in a game that has all the focus shifted on him and Sadio Mane. The Manchester City striker who was ordered to pay over 3600 Pounds with his wife Rita to the former nanny of their child as unpaid wages will definitely put his family problems aside and try to lead Algeria by example.
Though all the focus is on Mahrez, Yacine Brahimi, Sofiane Feghouli and Islam Slimani who has scored Algeria’s past two goals against Senegal in the AFCON will be other key players to watch.
Kenya vs Tanzania (30 June Stadium, 21:00 CAT)
Kenya have returned to the AFCON for the first time since 2004 and will face Tanzania who are playing the tournament only the second time and the first time since 1980. Kenya who are ranked 105th on the current FIFA rankings will see this as a game within their reach, given that Tanzania are ranked 131st.
This game will be the first meeting between these countries in the African Cup of Nations
Kenya have won only one of their 15 AFCON games, which is the worst by any team that has played at least 15 games in the tournament.
The Harambee Stars have also failed to score in nine of their last 12 games in the AFCON, managing just five goals in that run.
There is a long running rivalry between these two sides with 44 previous meetings. Kenya have won 20, drawn 14 and Tanzania have 10 wins.
The Taifa Stars of Tanzania have not won a game in the AFCON yet, drawing one and losing three, conceding at least two goals in three of their last four outings.
Emmanuel Amuneke must improve on his team’s offensive disposition, as Tanzania had just three shots against Senegal in their opening game with only one on target.
Kenya are fancied to win this game, but the motivation to at least get a win under their belts in the AFCON might push Tanzania to put up a tough resistance.
Players to Watch
Victor Wanyama (Kenya)
Position: Midfielder Club: Tottenham Age: 28
Wanyama and Kenya were disappointing in their first outing but he will still be looked upon to inspire his team to a second AFCON win in their 16th outing in the competition.
His 26 year old teammate, forward Ayub Masika of Beijin Renhe FC in China and 25 year Michael Olunga of Kashiwa Reysol in Japan, will have to be at their bests too. They will be other attractions in this Kenyan team in this game.
Mbwana Aly Samatta (Tanzania)
Position: Forward Club: Genk Age: 26
He is yet to get off the mark for the Taifa Stars, but Mbwana Samatta remains their biggest goal threat. How well Tanzania performs in Egypt is down to his form.
Other players to watch out for in this Tanzanian team are 25 year old Difaâ Hassani El Jadidi forward Simon Happygod Msuva and 27 year old Blackpool forward Adi Yussuf who was an unused substitute in their first game.