INSIDE AFCON 2019.
* Algeria, the new Africa Champions
* Odion Ighalo wins AFCON Golden Boot
* Ismael Bennacer received Player of the Tournament Award
* Total AFCON 2019 Best XI – all the major highlights from AFCON 2019 with accurate statistics: the eventual cup winners, top scorer, top assists maker, most valuable player, etc.
All images used in the article are from the twitter page of Confederation of African Football (CAF): @CAF_Online
INSIDE AFCON 2019
The most prestigious tournament on African soils, the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (also known as Total Africa Cup of Nations or AFCON 2019) has come and gone but we won’t forget the memories it left behind. The 32nd edition of the Africa Cup of Nations was hosted by Egypt. AFCON was held from 21 June to 19 July 2019. This was the first time the competition was played in June/July from the former January/February tradition. It was also the first Africa Cup of Nations increased from 16 to 24 teams. Statistics showed that 102 goals were scored in all the 52 matches played in the tournament with an average of 1.96 goals per game. This tally is the highest ever in the history of AFCON. The major highlights from the tournament are mentioned on this page.
Algeria, the New Africa Champions
Algeria won their first ever Nations Cup in 1990 when they defeated Nigeria by 1 goal to nothing. 21 July 2019 was another good day for Algeria to add another one to their name; they did by defeating Senegal 1 – 0 in the final. All thanks to Baghdad Bounedjah early strike to help Algeria lift the trophy for the second time in the history of the tournament.
The Greens came top of Group C by winning all their matches. They further defeated Guinea, Ivory Coast and Nigeria to get to the final and won against the Lions of Teranga for the second time in the competition.
On the other hand, 2019 AFCON Third place match was played between Nigeria and Tunisia. Ighalo early goal was enough for the Super Eagles side to win the match.
Odion Ighalo wins AFCON Golden Boot
Odion Ighalo beats Riyad Mahrez, Sadio Mane, Cedric Bakambu and Adam Ounas to win the golden boot. Ighalo scored 5 goals to merit this award. It will be fair to say Nigeria without Ighalo’s goals would be nowhere near the third place position. Odion recorded a goal against Burundi, Tunisia, Algeria and a brace against Cameroon. The 30 years old striker confirmed his retirement from International duties after the tournament. The Shanghai Shenhua forward on his Instagram page wrote: “This is one of the most difficult career decisions I have had to take. It’s been an amazing 5years journey, but after due consultation and extensive discussion with my family I have decided it’s time for me to retire from the national team.”
The former Super Eagles striker, Ighalo, becomes the sixth Nigerian to win AFCON golden boot after the likes of Segun Odegbami, Rasheed Yekini, Julius Aghaowa, Jay-Jay Okocha and Emmanuel Emenike.
Ismael Bennacer of Algeria and Frank Kesse of Ivory Coast were the top assists makers at the just concluded Total AFCON 2019.
Ismael Bennacer received Player of the Tournament Award
Algeria midfielder Ismael Bennacer won the best player prize of AFCON 2019 for his excellent performance during the tournament. The Empoli midfielder was tireless in midfield, breaking up opponents attacks. The 22 years old midfielder never scored a single goal in the tournament but he registered 3 assists to his name during the course of the campaign. Bennacer importance to Algeria team can’t be overemphasized as he is the only Algeria player to feature in all the 7 matches in the competition.
Algeria’s Rais M’Bolhi also won the tournament best keeper while Krepin Diatta (Senegal) won the best young player.
Total AFCON 2019 Best XI
Many players from different countries performed excellently well in 2019 Africa Cup of Nations but Confederation of African Football (CAF) were left to just pick eleven out of the best players in AFCON 2019. The players chosen are set out in a 4-3-3 formation. The chosen eleven are Rais M’Bolhi (Goalkeeper), Kalidou Koulibaly (Defender), Yassine Meriah (Defender), Lamine Gassama (Defender), Youssouf Sabaly (Defender), Ismael Bennacer (Midfielder), Adlene Guediora (Midfielder), Idrissa Gana Gueye (Midfielder), Sadio Mane (Forward), Riyad Mahrez (Forward) and Odion Jude Ighalo (Forward).
Djamel Belmadi and his team brilliant performance in Total AFCON 2019 wasn’t overlooked by CAF, he’s AFCON 2019 coach of the tournament. Belmadi has now led Algeria to 12 matches wins and just one loss since he took over the Algeria job August last year.