The 2019 AFCON continues today at 15:30 CAT with the second round of games in Group A and B.
Nigeria vs Guinea (Alexandria Stadium, 15:30 CAT)
The Super Eagles of Nigeria labored to see off new comers Burundi with a goal in the last 15 minutes of the game from Odion Ighalo.
Nigeria will book a place for the next round today with victory over Guinea who were held to a 2-2 by another debutant Madagascar in their own opening fixture.
The Nigerians have had preparations for the game marred by squabbles between the players and the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) over unpaid bonuses.
They arrived training an hour late on Tuesday and Ahmed Musa did not appear as scheduled for their pre-match conference for their game against Guinea as he was meeting with NFF officials on behalf of his teammates over unpaid bonuses after their win against Burundi.
Guinea who failed to beat Madagascar in their opening fixture will take this game to Nigeria as Paul Put’s team who are ranked 71st in the world, 26 places behind their opponents for today will try to get a positive result. Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita will definitely start today’s game.
Nigeria and Guinea had only previously played against each other in the AFCON ones, that was in a 1-1 draw in the group stage of the 1976 tournament.
The Syli National (The National Elephant) of Guinea are unbeaten in their last meetings against Nigeria in all competitions (W3, D1), after winning none of their previous eight against them (D4, L4).
Nigeria missed out of the two last tournaments, but they have won their last five games in the tournament, their longest streak ever in their history, never conceding more than one goal in each of their five encounters.
1976 runners-up Guinea have not won any of their last six games in the AFCON (D5, L1), their last success in the competition coming back in January 2012 against Botswana.
Nigeria are favourites to win this game despite the many problem, if Gernot Rohr finds the right balance in the team. Guinea will play for at least a draw.
Players to watch
Odion Jude Ighalo (Nigeria)
Position: Forward Club: Shanghai Greenland Shenhua FC Age: 30
Odion Ighalo was Nigeria’s savior against the brave Swallows of Burundi who were making their bow in the tournament four minutes after coming on.
Ighalo was Nigeria’s top scorer in the qualifiers with seven goals and has been in red hot form with his Chinese Super League side. It was surprising to see him dropped to the bench with Paul Onauchu preferred to start the game.
Naby Laye Keita (Guinea)
Position: Midfielder Club: Liverpool Age: 24
24 year old Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita had been on the sidelines since May 1, 2019 due to injury until his late introduction against Madagascar. He will definitely start the game against Nigeria and drive his team forward towards a victory or at least a draw to keep their hopes of staying in the competition alive.
Uganda vs Zimbabwe (Cairo International Stadium, 18:00 CAT)
The Cranes of Uganda will be clashing with the Warriors of Zimbabwe only for the first in the African Cup of Nations.
The 1978 runners-up have won just two of their 15 games against Zimbabwe in all competitions (D8, L5).
Uganda who comfortably beat the DRC in their opening fixture have won only four of their last nine games in the AFCON (D1, L4), after winning none of their first 11 in the competition (D1, L10).
Ranked 109th in the current FIFA rankings, 29 places lower than Uganda on the 80th position, the Warriors of Zimbabwe put up a great fight against Egypt in their opening fixture but they were narrowly edged out 1-0.
Their hopes of qualifying to the next round of the competition for the first time in four attempts, depends on their results in tonight’s game against Uganda.
Zimbabwe’s coach Sunday Chidzambwa will have to work on their defense if they want to get anything from this game as they have won only two of their 10 games in the competition (D1, L7), failing to keep a clean sheet in any of these 10 games.
This contest is will be fairly balanced, but Uganda showed flashes of brilliance against the DRC as they recorded their first win in the competition in 41 years. A win will seal a place for the Cranes in the next round, the last time Uganda progressed from the group stage, in 1978, they reached the final and lost 2-0 to host nation Ghana.
The team that will want it more will walk away with all three points.
Players to Watch
Farouk Miya (Uganda)
Position: Midfielder Club: HNK Gorica Age: 21
Farouk Miya was Uganda’s top scorer in the qualifiers with three goals. The 21 year old HNK Gorica midfielder is not showing any signs of slowing down. He was at the heart of all the Ugandan attacking initiatives against the DRC, providing both assists for Patrick Kaddu and Emmanuel Okwi to finish with clinical headers from two dead ball situations and testing DRC’s goalkeeper Ley Matambi on several occasions with some precise long range shots.
Uganda’s goalkeeper Denis Oyango is a cult hero in his country. He plays his club football for South African giants Mamelodi Sundowns and has the advantage of knowing so many players in the Zimbabwean team as 13 out of the 23 plight their trade in South Africa.
Khama Billiat (Zimbabwe)
Position: Winger Club: Kaizer Chiefs Age: 28
28 year old Kaizer Chiefs winger Khama Billiat will be the main man to watch again for Zimbabwe as he was their stand out player against Egypt in their opening fixture.
Captain and top scorer in the qualifiers Knowledge Musona will also be a goal threat and should be watched keenly.
Egypt vs DRC (Cairo International Stadium, 21:00 CAT)
Host Egypt dominated and defeated Zimbabwe 1-0 in their opening fixture, but the seven times champions did not have a vintage display especially going forward.
Salah and his teammates were highly frustrated by Zimbabwe’s last man standing Edmore Sibanda, they will look to make that right today against DRC’S Ley Matambi.
Egypt have won two of their three games against the DRC in the AFCON losing just one, the semi-final of the 1974 edition in Egypt, 3-2 with the DRC eventually lifting the trophy (the only time out of the previous four Egypt hosted and failed to win the trophy).
The Pharaohs have lost only one of their last 26 games in the AFCON (W19, D3). Their only loss was in the final of the 2017 edition against Cameroon.
DRC will aim to avoid back-back group stage losses for the first time since the 2004 edition in Tunisia.
Egypt’s home advantage will be a crucial factor in this tie as the seven time winners seek to take sweet revenge on the DRC who eliminated them in the semi-finals of the 1974 edition. DRC’s coach Florent Ibenge knows they have to show more than they did against Uganda otherwise they stand no chance.
Players to Watch
Mohamed Salah (Egypt)
Position: Forward Club: Liverpool Age: 26
Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah remains the main danger man for Egypt. Against Zimbabwe he started from a wide position before eventually finishing in the middle. Coach Javier Aguirre will sweat to find the right combination and position for his Pharaoh King who is desperately looking to meet the huge expectations of his 95 million Egyptian fans by adding to his 39 international goals for his country.
Cedric Bakambu (DRC)
Position: Forward Club: Beijing Sinobo Guoan FC Age: 28
Cedric Bakambu is a tested proven goal scorer in Europe with Bursaspor and Villarreal and now in China with Beijin Guoan. The DRC forward was disappointing against Uganda; he will be keen to get off the mark in this game against Egypt to add to his 8 goals in 21 caps for his country.