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The Desert Foxes reached the pinnacle of African football after beating Nigeria 1-0 in the 1990 AFCON final. That feat brought joy to the Algerians after multiple failed attempts. The legend of Rabah Madjer was born there. The midfielder scored two in the tournament and consistently put in sensational performances which earned him the Player of the Tournament award. Algeria since then have been flirting with group stage exits and the quarter final spots. They got close to another final in Angola 2010, going on a solid run until facing Egypt in the semis. They were given a 4-0 thrashing by the eventual winners and also lost 1-0 to Nigeria in the 3rd place playoff.

Overview

The 1990 champions have won the silver medal on one occasion, losing to hosts Nigeria in the 1980 final. They earned the bronze medal four years later with a fairly comfortable 3-1 victory over North African rivals Egypt. After a disappointing group stage exit in 1986, the Desert Foxes stepped up their game in 1998, taking the bronze medal home once again. They came out victors against the hosts Morocco 4-3 on penalties after the match ended with a goal apiece. Algeria has had some struggles since the fourth place finish in 2010. They only made it to the quarter finals once in the next four AFCON tournaments and were even absent in 2012 edition. That has hurt their standings in the FIFA rankings. The Desert Foxes are currently 68th in the FIFA rankings and 12th in Africa. The coach, Djamel Belmadi will be looking to improve Algeria’s form in Egypt. Djamel wore the Algerian colors as a player from 2000 to 2004. He played for the likes of Marseille in France and Celta Vigo in Spain as a midfielder in his prime years. His coaching career got off to a great start after taking the reins of Lekhwiya in Qatar. He led the side to the Qatar Stars League title in the 2010/2011 season. He won that trophy three more times since then (2012, 2017 and 2018). Djamel has also won the Qatar Emir Cup (2016, 2018) and the Qatar Cup in 2018. His good performances earned him a stint with the Qatar national team in 2014 and he led the side to the Gulf Cup of Nations that year. This will be Djamel’s first taste of the AFCON as a manager but his impressive CV inspires hope among the Algerian faithful. Djamel has a very talented side to work with in the AFCON and are well stocked in the defensive and midfield department. A cause for concern however will be the striking department after the coach decided to call only two strikers to Egypt. Djamel will have to use the wide midfielders well to take care of the imbalance.

How they qualified

Algeria were placed in Group D with Benin, Gambia and Togo. The Desert Foxes took top spot with 11 points. Their only defeat came at the hands of Benin (1-0). They did however beat Benin in the reverse fixture at home (2-0). Algeria managed to beat Togo twice (1-0 and 4-1) and the rest were stalemates.

Who’s in their group?

Algeria will face Kenya, Senegal and Tanzania in Group C.

How have they fared against those teams in the past?

The Desert Foxes have a good record against Tanzania, beating them 5 times and drawing 4 in 10 meetings. Algeria and Kenya are yet to decide the better team. The record stands at 3 wins apiece and a draw. Algeria will be happy with their record against favorites Senegal so far, with 12 victories and 5 draws in 21 meetings.

Key player

The big job falls in the hands of Riyad Mahrez. The 2016 PFA Player of the year was a key contributor to qualification for the Algerians, scoring two goals. Mahrez was part of the side’s disappointing performance in the previous tournament and will hope to improve in Egypt.

Did you know?

The national animal of Algeria is the Fennec Fox which is the origin of the nickname of the national team. The fennec is a small desert fox with disproportionately large ears. The largest country by area in all of Africa is Algeria. It is the tenth-largest in the world but surprisingly, only 12 percent of its land is inhabited. Over 90 percent of the country is covered by the Sahara desert.

Player to watch

The young Ismael Bennacer is a player to follow in the tournament. Ismael was former Arsenal youth team player who currently plays for Empoli in the Italian Serie A. He has been a regular for the Italian club since signing for them in 2017 and helped them gain promotion from the Serie B to the top league in one season. Bennacer can play multiple positions at the center of the field including the deepy lying playmaker, attacking midfielder and the mezzala role.

How far will they go?

Algeria will be expected to easily advance to the next round with Senegal. They possess a number of dangerous players that can cause havoc to any side. A quarter final appearance will at least be expected from the Desert Foxes.
  • Profile by Bill Eshun
  • Follow all Algeria’s games with #JoyAFCON. There’s live radio commentary on Joy 99.7FM, post-match programs on Joy FM, JoyNews TV (available via MultiTV Digibox and on DStv channel 421), Joy Prime (on DStv 281), analysis shows, and fanzones. Follow complete social media coverage on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram with @JoySportsGH.

What is Angola's history in the Africa Cup of Nations?

Angola will be making its eighth appearance at the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt this summer. The Palancas Negras made their debut in the continental tournament at the 1996 edition hosted by South Africa. Following their group stage exit, the qualified for the second successive tournament in Burkina Faso which was held two years later. Angola endured an eight-year drought and remerged again at Egypt 2006, Ghana 2008 and hosted it in 2010. After qualifiying for Gabon/Equatorial Guinea 2012 and South Africa 2013, Angola missed out on featuring at Equatorial Guinea in 2015 and Gabon in 2017. The best-ever achievement of the three-time COSAFA Cup winners in the AFCON is qualification to the quarter finals, which they did in 2008 and 2010.

How did Angola qualify for the 2019 AFCON?

Angola booked its ticket to the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations by beating Mauritania to the top spot on goal difference. The Palacas Negras started their qualification campaign in Group I by losing 3-1 away to Burkina Faso before securing a 1-0 home win against Botswana. They grabbed a second successive victory via the 4-1 home thumping of Mauritania before losing 1-0 away to the latter in the reverse fixture. With a 2-1 home win over Burkina Faso and a 1-0 away victory against Botswana, Angola finished the qualification campaign with 13 points and +3 goals, securing a spot at Egypt alongside debutants Mauritania who managed the same number of points but a two-goal deficit.

What is Angola's group at the 2019 AFCON?

Angola will feature in Group E alongside Tunisia, Mali, and Mauritania.

Who is the star player of Angola?

Mateus Galiano da Costa of Portuguese Primeira side Boavista is the player to watch in the Angola side heading into the AFCON in Egypt. The veteran forward finished as his country's top scorer during the qualification campaign with four goals.

Who is the head coach of Angola?

Srdjan Vasiljevic is the current head coach of Algeria.
  • Profile by Emmanuel Budu Annor
  • Follow all the Angola's games with #JoyAFCON. There’s live radio commentary on Joy 99.7FM, post-match programs on Joy FM, JoyNews TV (available via MultiTV Digibox and on DStv channel 421), Joy Prime (on DStv 281), analysis shows, and fanzones. Follow complete social media coverage on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram with @JoySportsGH.

What is Benin's history in the Africa Cup of Nations?

Benin will be making its fourth appearance at the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt this summer. The Squirrels debuted at the tournament in the 2004 edition hosted by Tunisia. They made their second appearance in 2008 in Ghana and added a third in the subsequent edition two years later in Angola. Benin has never made it to the knockout stage of the AFCON before.

How did Benin qualify for the 2019 AFCON?

The Squirrels booked their ticket by finishing as runners-up in Group D of the qualifying round. They won three games by beating Gambia, Algeria and Togo, all at home and drew in the reverse match against the Sparrowhawks.

What are Benin's fixtures at the 2019 AFCON?

Benin will feature in Group F against Cameroon, Ghana, and Guinea-Bissau.

Who is the star player of Benin?

Former Sunderland, West Brom, and Montpellier winger Stéphane Sessègnon is the man to watch in the Benin set-up. The 35-year-old forward who currently plays for Turkish club Gençlerbirlig is currently the skipper of the Squirrels.

Who is the coach of Benin?

Michel Dussuyer is the current head coach of Benin.
  • Profile by Emmanuel Budu Annor
  • Follow all the Benin's games with #JoyAFCON. There’s live radio commentary on Joy 99.7FM, post-match programs on Joy FM, JoyNews TV (available via MultiTV Digibox and on DStv channel 421), Joy Prime (on DStv 281), analysis shows, and fanzones. Follow complete social media coverage on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram with @JoySportsGH.
It’s a first AFCON for them! The fact that they qualified at the expense of Gabon and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang probably makes this AFCON berth sweeter, but after years of trying, here they are.

Overview

The Swallows in the War (French: Les sirondelles dans la guerre), as they are known, cannot compare themselves to the big shots of the continent, especially on the financial side. A massive, public fund-raising drive by the respected Reverien Ndikuriyo was needed to get adequate means for their whole stay in Egypt. The economy is not great, and so it was understandable that four banks pooled $40,000, while a collection of pharmaceutical and steel companies put in another $40,000. The rest were got through state funds and other means. Key midfielder Gael Bigirimana was influential in qualification and he reckons their presence in Egypt will not make them anxious, despite being first timers. Having fled his native Burundi as a child, Gael Bigirimana returned 15 years later to help in making this AFCON dream a reality. The fairytale story is soured by the death of another key player, Papy Faty, who lost his life through a reported heart condition while playing for eSwatini club Malanti Chiefs. At 28, his contribution to qualifying had been key and he could have been a trump card for the debutants.

How they qualified

Burundi held on until the final qualifying game to secure a historic qualification to the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt. The Swallows needed just a draw against Pierre-Emerick Aubabmeyang's Gabon to book its ticket and they pulled that off successfully with a 1-1 draw in Bujumbura. Prior to the historic qualification, Burundi registered back-to-back wins against South Sudan and drew at home and away to Mali. In the game at Gabon, Les Hirondelle ran off with a vital point following the 1-1 draw.

Coach

Oliver Niyungeko, known as Mutombola, will be heavily reliant on the foreign-based duo of Saido Berahino and Gael Bigirimana, and he’s never been shy of acknowledging that.

Did you know?

Burundi came very close to qualifying for the 1994 AFCON in Tunisia. They lost on penalties to Guinea in a playoff. The Gabonese desired victory in Bujumbura but it was the hosts who clutched the opener with thirteen minutes to end the game through Cedric Amissi to drive the home fans into fits of hysteria. Omar Ngando’s own goal soon following guaranteed an anxious close, but Burundi held on strongly to maintain an historic point, as well as join Group C winners Mali at the tournament.

Star player

Stoke City’s 25-year-old striker Saido Berahino, who switched to Burundi after playing at junior levels for England’s U-16s through to U-21s. It was clear he wasn’t going to get a spot with England at senior level, so he sought Fifa clearance to rep the small central African nation. And he made it count, with a goal for the Swallows on his debut last September in an AFCON qualifier against Gabon. He managed five goals in 26 appearances for the Potters in the English Championship this season.

Player to watch

Bigirimana is one of the more well known players in Olivier Niyungeko’s squad. Because of this, the Hibs midfielder is looked towards for a creative spark from midfield. Bigirimana on his day can be a great player in the middle. His eye for a pass is good and is generally decent on the ball if he has a little room to work with. Keep an eye out for striker Fiston Abdul Razak, whose six goals made him second highest scorer in the AFCON qualifiers behind Nigeria’s Odion Ighalo (7).

Who’s in their group?

Guinea, Madagascar and Nigeria

How far will they go?

Group stage exit
  • Profile by Bill Eshun, Gary Al-Smith
  • Follow all the Burundi's games with #JoyAFCON. There’s live radio commentary on Joy 99.7FM, post-match programs on Joy FM, JoyNews TV (available via MultiTV Digibox and on DStv channel 421), Joy Prime (on DStv 281), analysis shows, and fanzones. Follow complete social media coverage on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram with @JoySportsGH.
Cameroon is the second most successful nation in the Africa Cup of Nations after Egypt. The Indomitable Lions made their debut at the tournament in 1970 in Sudan and have registered a total of 19 appearances.

Overview

They’re aiming for a back-to-back AFCON win for the second time, after achieving the feat in 1984, and ’86. The team is currently coached by Clarence Seedorf who was appointed in August 2018. This will be the first tournament for the Dutchman. Before the 2017 success, Cameroon had gone through a period of deep division and off-field drama. Things are better this time, perhaps have a few more game-changing individuals. The Indomitable Lions won the last edition without Andre Onana, Guy Roland Ndy Assembe, Allan Nyom, Maxime Poundje, Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa and Ibrahim Amadou. That’s why then manager Hugo Broos was praised for achieving with a younger and less fancied side and without the service of a number of foreign-based players. These players refused call-ups from Broos, preferring to serve their respective clubs. Seedorf has shown similar cojones as Broos, by axing Benjamin Moukandjo. But he’s always said that the stay-away duo of Joel Matip and Nicolas Nkoulou wouldn’t be begged to return, but that he wouldn’t shut the door on them either. For now, they all aren’t part of the squad. Another burning issue for Seedorf is the captaincy, with the armband being rotated among several candidates during his tenure to date. In Vincent Aboubakar’s absence the Lions would have loved to fall on Ntep de Madiba (Wolfsburg) but he’s been dropped from the final team. The attack doesn’t look sharp, especially with the knee injury-enforced omission of Vincent Aboubakar, who scored the championship winning goal in 2017. Despite netting his first-ever goal for Cameroon in an 11-0 pre-AFCON friendly win over Alcorcon, Ntep also failed to convince Seedorf.

How they qualified

Cameroon finished second behind Morocco in Group B of the qualification campaign. The Indomitable Lions defeated the Atlas Lions 1-0 in a tight opening group game before drawing 1-1 away to Comoros. Then there was a 1-0 win at home to Malawi before drawing 0-0 away. They finished the campaign with a 2-0 defeat in Casablanca against Morocco and a 3-0 win at home vs Comoros.

Who’s in their group?

Group F also has Guinea-Bissau, Ghana and Benin.

Coach

The 42-year-old Seedorf took on his first international coaching job after spending three months in charge of Deportivo La Coruña. As a player, he was one of Europe’s most complete midfielders, noted for an excellent physical regimen that gave him longevity.

Star player

André Onana is one of the breakout stars of this season. The goalkeeper of Ajax reached the semi-final of the Champions League and won the Eredivisie, as well as the Dutch cup. He missed just three out of the 58 games of Ajax in this campaign. His positioning, saves and passing are a great deal for Cameroon.

Did you know?

Seedorf is the first footballer in history to win four European Cup titles with three different teams. Ajax (1994/1995) Real Madrid (1997/1998) and AC Milan (2003 and 2007)

How far will they go?

A group having Ghana, Guinea-Bissau and Benin should not be too unfriendly for the defending champs. After going into the round of 16,it gets dicey. A quarter-final, at most.
  • Profile by: Kelvin Owusu Ansah and Emmanuel Budu Annor
  • Follow all cameroon’s games with #JoyAFCON. There’s live radio commentary on Joy 99.7FM, post-match programs on Joy FM, JoyNews TV (available via MultiTV Digibox and on DStv channel 421), Joy Prime (on DStv 281), analysis shows, and fanzones. Follow complete social media coverage on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram with @JoySportsGH.
DR Congo will be making their 19th appearance in the AFCON in Egypt. As Congo, they made their debut in 1965 in Tunisia and packed their bags home after the first round. The Leopards prepared well for the next one in 1968 and ended up winning the trophy. Their next success came in 1974 after beating Zambia by two unanswered goals in a replay. The first tie finished 2-2. They won the bronze medal in 1998 after defeating Burkina Faso 4-1 on penalties in a famously exciting game that ended 4-4 after extra time. The Leopards earned another bronze medal four years ago, beating Equatorial Guinea 4-2 on penalties after the match ended goalless. DR Congo managed to reach the quarter-finals in the last edition and lost 2-1 to four time champions Ghana. The Leopards are aiming to make it a third trophy win this July.

Overview

DR Congo have gone through periods to forget, AFCON-wise. They have been knocked out in the first round on seven occasions (1965, 1970, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2004 and 2013). The darkest period for DR Congo came after winning the 1974 African Cup of Nations and participating in the 1974 World Cup. The Leopards were eliminated in the first round of the 1976 African Cup of Nations after recording a draw and two losses in the group stage and from 1978 to 1986, the country either withdrew or did not qualify for the African Cup of Nations. They also failed to participate in qualification for the 1978 World Cup and 1986 World Cup. DR Congo is known to be one of the top teams in Africa, placing 5th among the African teams and 49th overall in the FIFA rankings. Florent Ibenge will be tasked with the job to write DR Congo’s name in the history books for the third time. Florent has had a wealth of experience working with the national team and has led the Leopards to two previous AFCON tournaments from the touchline (2015, 2017). Florent once managed Shanghai Shenhua from April to May 2012. His was then appointed the coach of Vita Club in February 2014. The DR Congo national team gave him the opportunity to manage them in August 2014 and he accepted. Ibenge has worked with both club and country as head coach from 2014 to this day, a big ask for the tactician and one he has handled well so far. Apart from Issame Mpeko and Bokadi Bope, Ibenge has an inexperienced set of defenders to rely on in the tournament and has to find a way to get a perfect blend to stifle attacks from the opposition. Ibenge will be without the services of Dieumerci Mbokani who is currently injured. A huge loss for DR Congo.

How they qualified

Florent’s men battled hard to make it out of Group G in second place, earning nine points from a possible 18, and two points behind leaders Zimbabwe. DR Congo started qualification with a fairly comfortable 3-1 victory over neighbours and rivals Congo. They picked up another win in the last round of matches. That was a 1-0 win over Liberia. The Leopards suffered a 2-1 defeat to eventual group winners, Zimbabwe. The rest of their fixtures ended in stalemates. DRC scored eight and conceded six.

Who’s in their group?

DR Congo will face Egypt, Uganda and Zimbabwe in the AFCON tournament.

How have they fared against those teams in the past?

DR Congo are yet to get the better of Egypt in 7 matches (2D 5D). They have a bad record against Zimbabwe as well, winning once in 4 encounters (1W 1D 2D). DR Congo has the slight head to head advantage over Uganda, winning 4 and losing 3 in seven games.

Star Player

Ibenge will look to Yannick Bolasie to make the difference for his side. The former Crystal Palace winger has a bag of tricks which helps him easily get past his man. He played for Anderlecht on loan last season and found the net 6 times in 17 appearances. Bolasie unfortunately missed out on the previous edition due to injury but is now back to add to his 9 goal tally for the Leopards.

Did you know?

The Democratic Republic of the Congo is named from the Congo River, which flows through the entire country. The Congo River is the second longest river in Africa after Nile and the second largest river in the world. DR Congo is the second largest country in Africa and the 11th largest country in the world. Also, the coach, Ibenge, previously managed Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua and Vita Club in Congo before his national team appointment in 2014.

Player to watch

Cedric Bakambu is a player to watch at the tournament. The former Villarreal man has an eye for goal and gets himself in dangerous positions to find the net. Cedric was in red hot form last season, scoring 30 goals in 36 appearances for Beijing Guoan. The 28-year-old striker finished as the Leopards highest scorer during qualifying, with three goals. At the moment, he’s Africa’s most expensive transfer, ever, after moving from Spain for £65 million to the Far East. How far will they go? The Leopards will have a tough task getting past the Egypt and Zimbabwe especially. Ibenge can steer his side to the next round with the talent available however and possibly book another quarter final berth.
  • Profile by: Bill Eshu, Emmanuel Budu Annor, and Gary Al-Smith
  • Follow all DR Congo’s games with #JoyAFCON. There’s live radio commentary on Joy 99.7FM, post-match programs on Joy FM, JoyNews TV (available via MultiTV Digibox and on DStv channel 421), Joy Prime (on DStv 281), analysis shows, and fanzones. Follow complete social media coverage on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram with @JoySportsGH.
The Pharaohs began their trophy laden journey in the African continent by winning the first ever AFCON tournament in Sudan (1957). El-Diba wrote his name all over it by finding the net five times. The North African side then went ahead to win the next one two years later as hosts after beating Ethiopia (4-0) and Sudan (2-1). Egypt have not slowed down since then and are now the most successful side in the Africa Cup of Nations with seven titles, the most recent one coming in 2010.

Overview

Javier Aguirre’s men make a return to the showcase after narrowly losing 2-1 to Cameroon in the 2017 final. They now have a big opportunity to clinch the trophy for the eighth time on home soil. Twenty three appearances in thirty two editions of the Africa Cup of Nations tournament is an amazing achievement but the country has not been without a rough patch. Egypt experienced its darkest period after the 2010 win, failing to qualify for the following three AFCONs (2012, 2013 and 2015). That damaged their standing among other countries in Africa and the world as a whole. After a massive change to the team that won their last tournament in 2010, Egypt now stand as one of the favorites to clinch the title in July. The Pharaohs are currently the 8th best team in Africa on the FIFA rankings and 58th overall. This is something Aguirre, a decent Mexican player in his day, would want to improve. He’s had a lot of experience as a manager with some silverware along the way, notably winning the Mexican Primera Division with Pachuca in 1999 and the CONCACAF Gold Cup ten years later. He also steered Al-Wahda to the UAE President’s Cup (2017) and UAE League Cup (2016). Not major trophies, but he knows how to win things. Egypt is the first African team Javier’s managed. In this current crop of Pharoahs, ‘El Vasco’ (as the coach is known) has a motley blend of experience and youth, who’ve played together for awhile. His main concern, however, will be integrating Ayman Ashraf (10 caps), Ahmed Ayman Mansour (three), Mahmoud Hamdy (one), Mahmoud Alaa (four) and Baher El Mohammady (five) into the defensive setup to win the trophy. Javier will be without the charismatic and legendary goalkeeper Essam El Hadary, who announced his retirement from the side after the 2018 World Cup.

How they qualified

Egypt were placed in Group J alongside Tunisia, Niger and Eswatini. They took the second position with 13 points, two behind Tunisia. The seven-time champions thrashed Niger by six unanswered goals and were held to a 1-1 draw in the reverse fixture. They beat Eswatini 4-1 in the first fixture and won 2-0 in the reverse. Tunisia handed Egypt their first and only defeat in the qualifier, beating them by a goal. Aguirre’s men had their revenge in their return, scoring thrice in a five-goal thriller. Egypt were named as hosts, replacing Cameroon on 8 January 2019. They had already secured a top two place and were assured of qualification, anyway.

Who’s in their group?

Egypt will battle for qualification to the next round against DR Congo, Zimbabwe and Uganda. How have they fared against those teams in the past? Egypt have proven to be vastly superior to DR Congo, winning 5 of the 7 they have faced each other in total (5W 2D). This has been the same against Uganda. Egypt have managed 15 victories over Uganda in 20 encounters (15W 3D 2L). Zimbabwe have also posed little threat to the Egyptians in the past, recording 8 defeats and only winning twice in 14 meetings.

Star Player

The weight of all of Egypt will once again fall on the shoulders of Mohammed Salah. The Liverpool winger had a stellar season for his club. He took home the golden boot with 22 goals in the English Premier League (same as Aubameyang and Mane) and also scored a penalty in the final that helped his side to win the coveted Champions League trophy. Salah was also the top scorer in Egypt’s qualification group with 4 strikes. He will hope to guide his team mates to the title on home soil after the disappointment two years ago.

Did you know?

The Egyptians invented the 365 day calendar and that could be traced to as far back as 4236 BC. Egypt can also boast of the largest monolith statue (the great Sphinx of Giza) which was built between 2558-2532 BC. Egypt is home to one of the world’s largest dam, Aswan high dam, built to contain the raging waters of the river Nile, the world’s longest river.

Player to watch

Trézéguet (real name Mahmoud Ahmed Ibrahim Hassan) is a player to watch. The midfielder is dangerous going forward and had a good season with Kasimpasa, scoring 9 goals in 29 appearances.

How far will they go?

Egypt are one of the favorites to win the competition and rightly so. They managed to reach the finals in the previous edition and look poised to go all the way to the final in this one and possibly winning it.
  • Profile by: Bill Eshun and Gary Al-Smith
  • Follow all Egypt’s games with #JoyAFCON. There’s live radio commentary on Joy 99.7FM, post-match programs on Joy FM, JoyNews TV (available via MultiTV Digibox and on DStv channel 421), Joy Prime (on DStv 281), analysis shows, and fanzones. Follow complete social media coverage on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram with @JoySportsGH.

What is Ghana's history in Africa Cup of Nation?

The Black Stars of Ghana made its first appearance at the continental tournament in 1963. Having won the trophy as the host nation in its debut campaign, the West Africans defended the title back-to-back in Tunisia two years later. Since then, Ghana has won the AFCON on two other occasions - 1978 in Ghana and 1982 in Libya - and is the third most decorated country in the tournament after Cameroon and Egypt. The Black Stars has made a total of 22 appearances in the competition and holds the record for the most final game appearances with nine. It has finished as runners-up on five occasions, second runner-up once, and has placed fourth on four occasions.

How did Ghana qualify for the 2019 AFCON?

Ghana qualified for the 2019 AFCON by finishing as Group F winners in the qualifying round. The Black Stars featured alongside Kenya, Ethiopia, and Sierra Leone who were subsequently disqualified. They accumulated nine points from four matches (won 5-0 and 2-0 vs Ethiopia and 1-0 vs Kenya), scoring eight goals and just conceding one.

What is Ghana's group at the 2019 AFCON?

Ghana is in Group F at this year's tournament. The Black Stars shares the same group with Benin, Cameroon and Guinea Bissau.

Who is Ghana's star player?

Atletico Madrid's Thomas Teye Partey is the player to watch for the Blak Stars. The midfielder has risen to prominence in recent years and was featured in the 2018 Africa Best XI at the CAF Awards earlier this year.

Who is the head coach of Ghana?

Kwesi Appiah is the head coach of the Black Stars of Ghana
The Syli Nationale have 11 AFCONs under their collective belts, and the journey has brought mixed results. They debuted in 1970 and it did not take long for the side to make a return trip home. Two draws and a loss were not enough to advance to the next round. Guinea had another shot in 1974 in Egypt and narrowly missed out on the chance to advance to the next round with a slightly better record of 1 win, 1 draw and 1 defeat. The next tournament two years later however was a massive success. Guinea managed to take the silver medal with Morocco coming out as winners. The National Elephants have failed to make it past the quarter-finals since then and the team will hope to break that curse in Egypt.

Overview

A dark cloud hung over Guinea after 1980 AFCON tournament in Nigeria. The players did not have the chance to showcase their talent in subsequent AFCON competitions due to their failure to secure qualification. The cloud stayed till 1994, 24 years after their last appearance. Their return did not last long after losing two straight matches and making the early trip home. The National Elephants did enjoy some success in the early 21st century, booking a place in the quarter finals in 2004 and losing 2-1 to Mali. Guinea repeated their 2004 achievement in the next two AFCON tournaments. They were beaten by Senegal (3-2) and Ivory Coast (5-0) in the 2006 and 2008 editions respectively. Guinea has had some struggles in qualification in recent times and that is highlighted in their 2 out of the last 5 appearances in the AFCON tournament. This has hurt their standings among African countries and the world. Guinea is currently ranked 13th in Africa and 71st in the FIFA rankings. Coach Paul Put will be looking to improve that with his tactical knowledge. Paul has managed multiple countries in Africa including Gambia (2008-2011), Burkina Faso (2012-2015) and Kenya (2017-2018). He moved to Guinea in March 2018 and has helped guide the team to Egypt after missing out on the recent past AFCON competition. Sadio Diallo has been ruled out due to injury. Paul will have a tough task of setting up his team without a key midfielder.

How they qualified

The National Elephants topped qualification group H, taking 12 points from a possible 18. Guinea claimed victories over Ivory Coast (3-2), Central African Republic (1-0) and Rwanda (2-0). The rest ended in draws

Who is in their group?

Guinea will battle Nigeria, Burundi and Madagascar in Group B.

How have they fared against those teams in the past?

The match between Guinea and Nigeria will temporarily decide the better side. Both have beaten each other 5 times and have drawn 7 (5W 7D 5D). Guinea are yet to lose to Burundi in three games (1W 2D), a record they will want to maintain. The National Elephants are also unbeaten against Madagascar, winning once and drawing another.

Star player

Naby Keita will be tasked to make the difference for Guinea. The all action midfielder was part of the Liverpool team that clinched the Champions League trophy last season and will hope to lead his side to success. Naby has scored five for Guinea so far and will look to add to that tally. He comes into this tournament with the threat of an injury hampering his effectiveness. Will he be fully fit?

Player to watch

Amadou Diawara is a player to watch in Egypt. Diawara’s ability to break attacks expertly at such a young age (21) is one of the reasons Napoli signed him in 2016. This tournament may be his big break in African and world football.

Did you know?

The Conakry Grand Mosque, in Guinea’s capital, was built under the country’s first president, Ahmed Sékou Touré, with funding from King Fahd of Saudi Arabia. It opened in 1982. It is the fourth largest mosque in Africa and the largest in Sub-Saharan Africa. The etymology of “Guinea” is uncertain. The English term Guinea comes directly from the Portuguese word Guiné, which emerged in the mid-15th century to refer to the lands inhabited by the Guineus, a generic term for the black African people who lived south of the Senegal River.

How far will they go?

Guinea are likely to be one of the two teams to make it out of the group to the next stage. Paul Put has good talents at his disposal and a quarter final berth can be achieved with them.
  • Profile by: Bill Eshun
  • Follow all Guinea’s games with #JoyAFCON. There’s live radio commentary on Joy 99.7FM, post-match programs on Joy FM, JoyNews TV (available via MultiTV Digibox and on DStv channel 421), Joy Prime (on DStv 281), analysis shows, and fanzones. Follow complete social media coverage on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram with @JoySportsGH.

What is the history of Guinea-Bissau at the Africa Cup of Nations?

Guinea-Bissau will make its second appearance at the Africa Cup of Nations when it travels to Egypt this summer. The Djurtus only made its debut in the tournament at the 2017 edition hosted by Gabon. It finished at the bottom of the table behind Gabon, Cameroon, and Burkina Faso after drawing just a game in the group stage.

How did Guinea-Bissau qualify for the 2019 AFCON in Egypt?

Guinea-Bissau and Namibia were the two teams who secured the tickets to Egypt 2019 following a tough qualification campaign in Group K. Until the final group match, there was no team who had already progressed. Guinea-Bissau started its quest with a 1-0 home win over Namibia. It was followed by a 2-2 draw away to Mozambique and then a 2-1 away defeat to Zambia. The Djurtus got their campaign back on track with a 2-1 home win in the return leg against the Chipolopolos and drew away to Namibia. A 2-2 home draw against Mozambique was sufficient to seal top spot for Guinea-Bissau.

What is Guinea-Bissau's group at the 2019 AFCON?

Guinea-Bissau is in Group F alongside Benin, Cameroon, and Ghana.

Who is the star player of Guinea-Bissau?

Frédéric Mendy is Guinea-Bissau's key player ahead of the 2019 AFCON in Egypt. The 30-year-old striker was the Djurtus' top scorer during the qualifiers with three goals.

Who is the head coach of Guinea-Bissau?

Baciro Candé is the current head coach of Guinea-Bissau.
  • Profile by Emmanuel Budu Annor
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What is the history of Ivory Coast in the Africa Cup of Nations?

Ivory will be making its 23rd appearance at the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt this year. The Elephants made their first appearance at the 1965 edition held in Tunisia and, since then, they have only failed to qualify on five occasions. They won their first continental title at Senegal 1992, beating Ghana 11-10 on penalty kicks after a goalless draw. in 2015, Ivory Coast its second title, once again, beating Ghana in a penalty shoot-out in Equatorial Guinea following a goalless draw. Overall, the Elephants have finished as runners-up on two occasions (2006 and 2012) and second runners-up on four occasions (1965, 1968, 1986 and 1994).

How did Ivory Coast qualify to the 2019 AFCON?

Ivory Coast finished as runners-up behind Guinea in Group H of the qualifying round. The Elephants started their campaign with a 2-3 home defeat to Guinea, followed by a 2-1 away win over Rwanda. They thrashed Central Africa Republic 4-0 in third group game before drawing 0-0 in the reverse fixture at Bangui. Ivory Coast drew 1-1 away to Guinea and won 3-0 in its last two games.

What is Ivory Coast's group at the 2019 AFCON?

Ivory Coast will feature in Group D alongside Morocco, South Africa, and Namibia.

Who is the star of Ivory Coast?

Nicolas Pepe of Lille will be the star man for the Ivorians at the 2019 AFCON in Egypt. A stellar season with the Ligue 1 outfit ended with the winger amassing 21 goals in 36 appearances. He is currently one of the hottest prospects in European football and the likes of Bayern Munich, Manchester United, and PSG said to be keen on his signing.

Who is the head coach of Ivory Coast?

Ibrahim Kamara is the current head coach of the Ivorian national team.
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Kenya will be gracing the AFCON tournament for the sixth time in their history. They debuted in the 1972 edition, leaving the tournament with 2 draws and a defeat in round 1. The Harambee Stars got another chance to shine in 1988 and they went out again in round one with the same result as the first one. They entered for the third time two years later and once again had the same result, a frustrating period for the side. Another chance came in 1992 and they lost both of their fixtures to seal an early flight home after multiple previous failures. They last participated in the 2004 AFCON tournament in Tunisia and they once again exited in the group stages after winning once and drawing two times. They are now back after 15 years to break the unwanted record previously set.

Overview

The road of the Harambee Stars in qualification has not been simple in the past. Kenya had to wait for a decade and a half after the start of the AFCON competition to participate in it. They chose not to enter the 1957 and 1959 editions and failed to qualify for the subsequent ones until 1972. They went on another frustrating run after their exit in their first appearance, having to wait another 16 years to make a second appearance. Kenya had a regular run for 6 years and then once again went into oblivion until 2004. They have been absent since then and the 2019 AFCON will be their first since appearing in the 2004 edition. Kenya will hope to give their fans some joy in the coming weeks. Kenya is currently 23rd in Africa and tied with Libya at 105th on the FIFA rankings. Sébastien Migné will be their head coach in this tournament. Sébastien has had some experience coaching African sides, initially taking the DR Congo U-20 head coach role. He also had a stint with the Congo national team from March 2017- 2018. Sébastien was given the chance to manage the Kenyan national team on 3rd May 2018 and led the side through qualification. Sébastien has a side that have played multiple games with each other and will have little problems fielding them in the AFCON. His main problem however will be the quality they possess, only Vincent Wanyama possesses enough quality in the current squad.

How they qualified

Kenya amassed 7 points in 4 matches to take second place in Group F. They managed to beat group winners Ghana in the first fixture (1-0) and lost to the Black Stars in the second one (0-1). Sébastien’s men claim 4 points from 6 against Ethiopia as well (3-0 and 0-0).

Who’s in their group?

Kenya were placed in Group C with Algeria, Senegal and Tanzania.

How have they fared against those teams in the past?

Algeria and Kenya are yet to decide the better team. The record so far stands at 3 wins apiece and a draw. The Harambee Stars are very familiar with Tanzania in the past, winning 20 and drawing 14 in 48 matches. Kenya are yet to beat Senegal after three meetings in the past, losing twice and drawing once.

Star player

The weight of the country’s hopes will fall on the shoulders of Vincent Wanyama. The defensive midfielder contributed to Tottenham’s surprising run to the final of the Champions League last season. He is one of the most experienced players in the lineup as well and will be tasked to lead them on the field as captain.

Player to watch

Michael Olunga is one of the players to keep an eye on in Egypt. Michael performed well in qualification, finding the net two times. Olunga already has 14 strikes for Kenya in 32 matches. The Kashwia Reysol forward will hope to impress in Egypt in the coming days.

Did you know?

Kenyans have a distinct way of dressing. Most of the traditional citizens wear the Maasai Shuka, a red or pink or maroon clothing around their shoulders/waists/necks. The most popular meal in Kenya is the “ugali”, made from flour. It can be maize, sorghum or even millet.

How far will they go?

Kenya have been underwhelming in previous AFCON tournaments and this will likely be no different. They will need a huge miracle to get past the likes of Senegal and Algeria.
  • Profile by: Bill Eshun
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Madagascar has taken a giant leap in African football by earning the right to play in Egypt. This will be their first ever AFCON competition after placing second in the Group A qualification standings. Barea made huge efforts in the past and the citizens of Madagascar will be proud to see the team battle it out on the biggest stage in African football.

Overview

Barea amassed 10 points in their qualification group to book a place in the 33rd edition of the AFCON. The journey has not been smooth however with a lot of disappointments coming in the past. Madagascar declined the invitation to enter from 1957 to 1970, a decision which had a lasting effect on the nation in the subsequent years. They participated in qualification in 1972 and 1974 with all ending in disappointments. They went through another round of failure in qualifying for eight more years starting from 1980. The same story surfaced in their 1992 qualification. Barea has not been without controversy, being on the end of a ban after withdrawing during the qualifiers for the 1996 AFCON tournament. Madagascar were back after the 1998 tournament to attempt once again to book a place in an AFCON tournament. They had to wait until 16th October, 2018 to realize this dream. They beat Equitorial Guinea by a lone goal to send their fans into ecstasy. 62 years have gone by since the first AFCON tournament was played in Sudan and Madagascar will now get the chance to showcase their talent for all Africans to witness. Madagascar is currently ranked 25th among the countries in Africa and 108th in the FIFA rankings. Nicolas Dupuis will be the man to lead them from the bench after helping them secure qualification. The former French full-back spent most of his early years as a coach with AS Yzeure (1996-2011), a team he played for in the early 1980s. Nicholas had a second spell with the club from 2012 to 2017. He was appointed manager of Madagascar in March 2017. He currently combines his role as head coach of Madagascar with the technical director position for FC Fleury. Nicholas’ main concern for this tournament will be the lack of experience of his side in a major competition of this magnitude, a concern he shares as well as this will be his first taste of the competition. Most of the squad has not played enough games in the national team as well and that will be a huge concern. Only 7 out of the current 23 man squad have had 10 caps or more for Barea and that is a cause for worry.

How they qualified

Madagascar earned 10 points from 6 games to book a place in Egypt, six lower than group winners Senegal. They kicked things off with a comfortable 3-1 victory over Sudan but lost by the same score line in the return fixture. Barea only grabbed a point from Senegal in two meetings (2-2 and 0-2) and beat Equatorial Guinea 1-0 in both fixtures.

Who’s in their group?

Barea are placed in Group B with Nigeria, Burundi and Guinea.

How have they fared against those teams in the past?

Madagascar are yet to beat Guinea in any match. The record currently stands at 1 loss and 1 draw. They have also had little success against Nigeria in the past, losing 3 and drawing 1. Madagascar will face Burundi for the very first time in Egypt.

Star player

Faneva Andriatsima will be called upon to get the goals for Barea. Faneva played a major role in qualification, scoring thrice. He is currently their record top scorer (12) and will look to add more goals and cement his place even further in the history of Madagascar.

Player to watch

Marco Ilaimaharitra is a player to cast an eye on. The 23 year old was previously a youth international of France and made his debut for Barea in November 2017. Marco plays well as a shield to the defense of Sporting Charleroi and will likely do same for Madagascar in Egypt.

Did you know?

Both men and women wear the same clothing in Madagascar, the lamba. There are lambas for marriages, lambas for work, lambas for elders, lambas for children and even the dead are wrapped in a special kind of lamba before burial. The lemur is a sacred animal in Madagascar, deeply revered and worshipped by the Malagasy people. They believe that lemurs carry souls to their ancestors.

How far will they go?

The lack of experience in the AFCON may prove costly to this side and finding a way past Nigeria and Guinea may be too big of a task for them.
  • Profile by: Bill Eshun
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What is the history of Mauritania in the Africa Cup of Nations?

Mauritania has never featured in any of the previous 31 editions of the Africa Cup of Nations and will be among the debutants at Egypt 2019. However, Al-Murabitun came close to making its first appearance four years ago. They advanced to the second round of the qualification phase for the 2015 AFCON despite losing to Equatorial Guinea who was disqualified for fielding an ineligible player. A 3-0 aggregate defeat to Uganda subsequently denied Mauritania a historic group stage berth at the 2015 edition which was held in Equatorial Guinea after Morocco lost its hosting right.

How did Mauritania qualify for the 2019 AFCON in Egypt?

Mauritania defied odds to finish as runners-up in Group I of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualification phase. Al-Murabitun won its first game away to Botswana by scoring a lone-goal and followed with a 2-0 win at home to Burkina Faso. They hit a snag in the third game with Angola thrashing them 4-1 in its backyard but bounced back with a 1-0 win over the Palancas Negras at home. A 2-1 home win over Botswana sealed the fate of Mauritania before the 1-0 loss to Burkina Faso in the last game.

What is Mauritania's group at the 2019 AFCON?

Mauritania is in Group E alongsidd Angola, Mali and Tunisia.

Who is the star player of Mauritania?

Ismaël Diakité is the key man to watch in the Mauritania team. The ASAC Concorde forward finished as his side's top scorer during the qualifiers with three goals. Diakité scored the goal that qualified Mauritania national football team to the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations for the first time ever in the 2-1 win over Botswana.

Who is the head coach of Mauritania?

Ex-French international Corentin Martins is the current head coach of Mauritania.
  • Profile by Emmanuel Budu Annor
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Tournament favourites the Atlas Lions of Morocco have been one of the most talked about African national teams of recent times who are blessed with talent. With the talent they possess, Morocco has nothing to show for it in terms of trophies on the international stage since 1976. Morocco topped their group during the qualification phase ahead of defending champions Cameroon on goal difference.

Overview

Topping group B ahead of Cameroon, Malawi, and Comoros, the Atlas Lions were tipped to qualify for this years African Cup of Nations after an impressive showing in the World Cup last year. They lost just once during the qualifiers to defending champions Cameroon by a goal to nil. After the loss, Morocco went on to draw two and win three, making them group winners ahead of Cameroon by a 2-goal difference as they both finished the qualifiers with 11 points. After winning the African Cup of nations in 1976, their best finish was in 2004 as they lost to the host nation Tunisia in the finals. The coach that leads them is former coach Herve Renard who has been in charge since 2016 replacing Badou Zaki. Zaki left as coach of the Atlas Lions on 10 February by mutual consent. After winning the African Cup of Nations win of Ivory Coast, Herve Renard is currently the highest paid coach on the African continent. The increase in salary is because Renard achieves both goals that are qualifying for the 2018 World Cup and passing the group phase of the African Cup of Nations in 2017. As the fourth best team in Africa, a lot is expected of this star-studded team to deliver and perform well.

Who’s in their group?

Morocco is in Group D with the La Cote d’Ivoire, Namibia, and South Africa.

Star player

The star player of this squad is unquestionably Ajax playmaker Hakim Ziyech. The left-footed magician was one of the best performers in the UEFA Champions League. Ziyech played a significant role in one of the historical runs that led them to a significant European semi-final for the first time in 22 years. Ziyech contributed to 21 goals and had 24 assists this past season. A skillful attacking midfielder who can play in most of the attacking positions, he will be one to look out for as most of the top European teams want to snap up his signature.

Did you know?

Morocco is about the same size as the state of California. The highest peak in North Africa is at Toubkal, which is the tallest mountain of Morocco. The Tarfaya Wind Farm in Morocco is Africa’s largest capacity wind farms. The second largest film set in the world is located in Morocco.

Player to watch

Youssef En-Nesyri is a 22-year old who plays for CD Leganes in the Spanish La Liga as a striker. He scored nine goals and assisted twice helping them finish 13th on the league table. En-Nesyri is excellent in the air and contributes when defending set pieces. This young striker will like to prove he is one of the most promising strikers on the African continent.

How far will they go?

The Atlas Lions will look to top their group as their toughest opponents on paper will be the elephants of La Cote d’Ivoire. Since they are being tipped amongst the favorites to win this tournament, a semi-final berth is within their reach at least if they can effectively put their talented squad to good use in a formation to suit them all.
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The Namibian national team also known as the Brave Warriors have made two appearances at the African Cup of Nations tournament at Burkina Faso in 1998 and Ghana in 2008. The Brave Warriors are yet to make an appearance at the World Cup. This resilient team will look to make a name for themselves at this month’s tournament.

Overview

Namibia is ranked as the 113th best team in the world and the 28th best team in Africa and will look to make it past the group stages. The Brave Warriors came second in their qualifying group making it to this year’s tournament ahead of Mozambique and Zambia. The team’s record during the qualifiers was 2 wins, 2 draws and 2 losses. Their only trophy they won was the COSAFA Cup in 2015. The national team coach is Ricardo Mannetti who is a former Namibian footballer who coached the team from 2013-2015 and led the team to a first international trophy. Mannetti was reappointed as coach in September 2015 after he announced that he stepped down in June 2015. The Brave Warriors are one of the underdogs at the tournament and are a very defensive team who make create little chances.

Who’s in their group?

The Brave Warriors of Namibia are in Group D with South Africa, Morocco and La Cote d’Ivoire.

Star Player

Ismaily striker Benson Shilongo will be the one to lead the line for the Brave Warriors. With 9 goals from 24 caps, the target man who has a good first touch will do his best to cause damage to opponents. He has a fairly good goalscoring record since joining the Egyptian Premier League from Platinum Stars in South Africa and has the right materials to lead the Brave Warriors in Egypt this month.

Did you know?

Namibia is home to the world’s oldest desert the Namib Desert which is over 55 million years old stretching for 2000km along the Atlantic coasts of Namibia, South Africa and Angola. The country has the largest population of free-roaming cheetahs in the world with about 3000 of them roaming freely in the country. The country is also home to the biggest grave site for sailors and ships.

Player to watch.

Denzil Hoaseb of Black Africa FC will be an instrumental player holding the defensive setup of the Brave Warriors. Playing in a back three or playing as one of wo central defenders, the 32-year-old centre back wins a lot of one-on-one duels. One of his strengths will be his perfectly slide tackles but his weakness is his pace as he is often exposed on his side.

How far will they go?

As a team who do not rely heavily on individual brilliance but rather collective efforts, the Brave Warriors look to make it out of the group sages. They will go head to head with some of Africa’s giants in the group, but they seem not to have the tools that can take them out of the group stages. An early exit looks likely to happen, but the Brave Warriors of Namibia will not go down without a fight.
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The Super Eagles are one of the countries with multiple achievements in the African continent and with a host of legends in the AFCON. Segun Odegbami was a key contributor to Nigeria’s first AFCON title in 1980, scoring twice in a comfortable 3-0 win over Algeria in the final. The torch was passed on to Rashidi Yekini, the forward who earned the player of the tournament award and the top scorer award (scored five goals) after Nigeria beat Zambia 2-1 in the 1994 final. Victor Moses took the mantle in 2013 and his sensational performances earned him the Player of the Tournament award after Nigeria sealed their third title in a 1-0 win over Burkina Faso. The Super Eagles have participated in 17 AFCON tournaments so far and have proven to be a force to reckon with, for other nations.

Overview

Nigeria started their AFCON journey in 1963, leaving the showcase in the group stages. They have been sensational since then, winning the competition on three occasions (1980, 1994 and 2013). Nigeria have been no strangers to the silver medal either, taking it four times (1984, 1988, 1990 and 2000). The Super Eagles have also taken the bronze medal seven times (1976, 1978, 1992, 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2010). 1963, 1982 and 2008 are the only years Nigeria has failed to bring home a medal, making them one of the most prolific teams to have ever participated in the competition. Nigeria is back in the limelight after failing to qualify for the last two previous AFCON competitions. They are now third place in Africa and 45th in the FIFA World rankings. Gernot Rohr leads the side once again after disappointment in the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. The German born tactician has had a wealth of experience with African nations. The countries on his resume are Gabon, Niger and Burkina Faso. He was appointed coach of Nigeria in August 2016 and led the side to a world cup appearance two years later. They unfortunately were knocked out in the group stage and Rohr is out to make amends in Egypt. Gernot will be without star man Victor Moses after he announced his retirement in 2018. The 2013 AFCON player of the tournament will be a huge miss for the side. Rohr has a lot of other experienced guys in his team however and will have fewer problems integrating them into the side.

How they qualified

Nigeria put up a good performance to secure top spot in Group E during qualification. The Super Eagles earned 13 points, only one above second place South Africa. The defeat came in the hands of the Bafana Bafana in their first match. 2-0 was the score line and the return fixture saw them held to a 1-1 draw. The rest were wins over Libya (4-0 and 2-3) and Seychelles (0-3 and 3-1). Who’s in their group? Nigeria will play in Group B with Burundi, Guinea and debutants Madagascar.

How did they fare against those teams?

The three time AFCON winners have been superior against Madagascar, winning 3 times and drawing 1 in four encounters. The match between Guinea and Nigeria will temporarily decide the better side. Both have beaten each other 5 times and have drawn 7 (5W 7D 5D). Rohr’s men have only faced Burundi once (1999) and came out 2-0 victors.

Star player

John Obi Mikel will be tasked with the job of leading the side on the pitch. The captain is the most capped player in the current lineup and will be expected to set an example on the field with his composure on the ball. He has scored 8 times for the Super Eagles and will hope to score more in Egypt.

Did you know?

Nigeria is home to the Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos state, connecting Lagos Island to the mainland. The Bridge is currently the longest in Africa. Nigeria is also one of the oldest locations of human existence. Archeological discoveries have shown that there was a history of human existence in the country which has been dated as far back as 9000 BC and the Nok civilization is the earliest known civilization in the country (around 500 BC- 200 AD).

Player to watch

Wilfred Ndidi is one of the players to watch in this tournament. Ndidi is one of the top interceptors in the game today and it is backed by the 83 interceptions made for Leicester last season. That puts him in third place in the Premier League behind Etienne Capoue (86) and Aaron Wan Bissaka (84). Eyes will be on him to replicate his stellar form last season. Honorable mention to Shanghai Shenhua's Odion Ighalo, please. The 29-year-old finished the tournament's qualification phase as the top scorer with seven goals. He has impressed for his club this season's Chinese Super League, netting 21 goals in 28 appearances.

How far will they go?

Nigeria will be expected to easily advance to the next stage of the competition. They have been without a medal since 2013 and will be expected to win one, possibly the bronze in July.
  • Profile by: Bill Eshun, Gary Al-Smith and Emmanuel Budu Annor
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Senegal have 14 AFCON appearances under their belt, since their 1965 debut. Interestingly, the Teranga Lions have failed to win the championship, ever. Their best-ever finish was registered at Mali 2002, where they had to settle for a runners-up medal after being defeated 3-2 on penalties by Cameroon. They have so far finished fourth on two occasions (1965 and 1990) while exiting the quarter-finals five teams.

Overview

They registered Africa’s best showing at the 2018 World Cup, though they tragically crashed out by goal difference. And so, perhaps, a continuation of that form is expected. Senegal do have pedigree, on the individual level. The recent exploits and world class performances of Liverpool’s Sadio Mané , Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly, Crystal Palace midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate, Everton midfielder Idrissa Gana Gueye suggests a solid core across board. Among the players that have been left out of Cissé’s squad include Diafra Sakho, Mame Biram Diouf, Cheikh Ndoye and Adama Mbegue, but the quality in this team and the levels at which they’ve operated this season gives hope. And yet, hope is something Senegal have had before every AFCON. This team, helmed by Aliou Cissé, must kill off the urge to be individualistic, lest they disappoint, again.

Style

Cissé, spoiled for choice in some areas, will opt for attacking football. That’s what they’ve done, with taking the lead in games the norm. A quality central midfield of Gueye (rated second-best tackler in the Premier League) and Kouyate (not at AFCON novice) has, together with Koulibaly and Bordeaux’s rising star Yussouf Sabaly, been the reason for their solid look. If the last AFCON was any hint, Senegal went out at the quarter-finals, having arrived at the tournament as favourites, as usual. The core of that team remains, and they just need focus to go a step further.

How they qualified

Senegal finished the qualification campaign atop Group A with 16 points. The Teranga Lions won five out of six matches, and only drew away to Madagascar.

Who’s in their group?

Senegal are in Group C with Algeria, Tanzania and Kenya.

Star player

The skipper of the side, Sadio Mané is the main man. The Liverpool forward has shown the way to score goals this season as he finished as the joint-top goalscorer with Mohamed Salah and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the Premier League. He has scored 26 goals across all club competitions for the Reds.

Coach

Aliou Cissé, formerly captain of the side, leads them to another AFCON. He was on the losing side in 2002 in that final with Cameroon. He’s hard to miss, with his dreadlocks and (sometimes, oversized) eyewear. Immortalized in a meme that shows his claw-like gesture and fist in the air celebration, the thread connecting Senegal's two glorious teams is Cissé.

Player to watch

That will be Ismailia Sarr from Rennes in France. Impressing with his quick, direct running and improved finishing, he could add up to the danger caused by Mané .

Did you know?

Two strong academies have written the current dreams into reality for most of Senegal players outside Africa. The first is Académie Génération Foot, or Generation Foot, which started life in Dakar in 2000 and since then over 30 have made it professional and gone on to greater shores. Generation Foot was the brainchild of ex- footballer Mady Toure, who played in France in the 1990s before a knee injury ruined his profession. Diambars football academy is the other secret behind’s Senegal’s abundant budding talents. Roughly 45 former students have become professional players; nearly a quarter of its 200 alumni. Patrick Vieira, Bernard Lama, Jimmy Adjovi Boco and Saer Seck, the President of Senegal's football league championed this vision.

How far will they go?

Senegal fans will now hope Mané can be the totem others have failed to be in the past. The spread of Senegalese players across Europe's major leagues has helped to establish the country as a leading light in African football (on the surface), but despite all that talent, at international level, Senegal's successes have been limited. While Senegalese are wary of making comparisons between the current squad and the 2002 stock, there is agreement that both groups are characterized by the same joie de vivre. Nobody is getting carried away just yet, especially not with Egypt, Nigeria, Cameroon and Ghana lurking. Yet, fans are ready to dance again on Place de l'Obelisque, in anticipation of a first trophy. A quarterfinal, at least.
  • Profile by: Gary Al-Smith, Kelvin Owusu-Ansah, and Emmanuel Budu Annor
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South Africa will be making its ninth appearance at the Africa Cup of Nations, having debuted on home soil in 1996 after a ban had rendered them ineligible to compete between 1957 and 1992. They beat Tunisia 2-0 in the final game, and then finished finished runners-up in Burkina Faso two years later. In 2000, they beat Tunisia in the penalty shoot-out to win the bronze medal but were eliminated at the quarter final stage in 2002. Between 2004 and 2008, Bafana failed to make it out of the group stage, while failing to qualify for the finals in 2010 and 2012 respectively. In 2013, they made it to another quarter final on home soil but were shown the exit via penalty shoot-outs by Mali. South Africa was eliminated in the group stage of the 2015 edition held in Equatorial Guinea and failed to qualify for the 2017 edition in Gabon.

Overview

South Africa remained unbeaten in the qualifying campaign (3 wins, 3 draws), scoring 11 goals and conceding just twice. But, be not be deceived, the qualifying was not that smooth. They make a return to the tournament after missing out on Gabon 2017. Two years before that, they’d made a group stage exit under former coach Shakes Mashaba. South Africa had a good track record of qualifying for Africa’s premier tournament, but things went pear-shaped from 2010, culminating in their being able to qualify for only two of the last five editions. South Africa – the last team to book a ticket to Egypt –are not considered contenders for the title and that tag may play to their advantage. The coach, Stuart Baxter, has had a long roller-coaster marriage with the South African Football Association. In his first stint from 2004-2005, the Brit botched qualification to the 2006 World Cup, only to secure AFCON qualification days later. But that was just not enough to protect him from the axe as Ted Dimitru was taken to the Nations Cup, ironically also held in Egypt. Back for his second spell, the 65-year old was unsuccessful in stirring his troops to the 2018 World Cup, while he moved to guarantee a first AFCON berth for himself. In Egypt, a number of his team’s players will also making a tournament debut. While Baxter has been angling for a balanced squad, a sticking point has been defensive back-up. South Africa have liked to play four at the back – Thamsanqa Mkhize‚ captain Thulani Hlatshwayo‚ Buhle Mkhwanazi and left-back Sifiso Hlanti, who looks solid. Of particular concern are right-back Ramahlwe Mphahlele and centre-back Daniel Cardoso‚ whose‚ club‚ Kaizer Chiefs‚ finished an unfamiliar ninth in past season’s top flight domestic league. Baxter had a plan to make use of right back Joel Unteresee (FC Zurich) and Crystal Palace centre-back Nikola Tavares’ but he will have to resort to other players as both players don’t have the requisite passports to play. Unteresee holds a Swiss passport and Tavares holds a Croatian one. Orlando Pirates midfielder Ben Motshwari did not make the squad, alongside Buccaneers-bound Fortune Makaringe, while Cape Town City striker Kermit Erasmus also missed out.

How they qualified

South Africa finished second in Group E with 12 points - one point behind table-toppers Nigeria. The 1996 AFCON winners won 2-0 away to Nigeria, stomped Seychelles 6-0 and emerged victorious via a 2-1 scoreline away to Libya in the final group game. The remaining three games were all draws.

Who’s in their group?

Bafana are in Group D with two-time winner Côte d'Ivoire, Morocco and Namibia.

Star player

Bafana will heavily rely on the goals of Percy Tau, 25, who finished as their top-scorer in the qualification with four goals. Baxter will be anxious over the workload on the young man, who won the League Player of the Season award following his scintillating first season with Belgian second division side Union Saint-Gilloise, grabbing 11 goals and 13 assists.

Did you know?

While braai vleis, vuvuzelas and rooibos tea are incredible symbols of South Africa’s uniqueness, the national anthem flawlessly represents the nation’s diversity. The current anthem ”Nkosi Sikelel’iAfrika” was officially adopted in 1997. In 1994, it was initially proclaimed that South Africa would have two national anthems – namely Nkosi Sikelel’iAfrika and Die Stem. In 1996, former President Nelson Mandela called for a shortened combination of the two anthems which was adopted the following year.

Player to watch

Thulani Serero is a player to watch. His versatility could be a key asset for Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter which‚ coupled with the fact that he has been a regular for his club this season

How far will they go?

With Baxter’s men finding themselves in a very strong group, it will take some doing for the former Kaizer Chiefs tactician to steer his team to the knockout stage.
  • Profile: Gary Al-Smith, Kelvin Owusu-Ansah, and Emmanuel Budu Annor
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The Taifa Stars will prepare to participate in the AFCON competition for only the second time in their footballing history. They made their debut in 1980 in Nigeria and it ended in disappointment. They booked an early flight home after drawing once and losing twice in the first round. They have had to wait almost four decades to get a chance to participate in the AFCON once again after defeating Uganda 3-0 on 24th March. The Tanzanian faithful will be proud of this development and will hope to see the Taifa Stars cause major upsets in Egypt.

Overview

Tanzania first decided to participate in qualification for the 1968 AFCON tournament but withdrew during qualifying. They then went through a heartbreaking period without qualification. The curse finally ended in 1980. The Taifa Stars opted against participating in the competition two years later and that costed them down the years. It was a long painful 39 year wait after 1980 to finally get another chance to showcase their talent to the people of Africa but it has finally happened and the team will look to give their all to the fans. Tanzania are currently ranked 36th in Africa and 131st in the FIFA rankings. Emmanuel Amuneke will be the man to coach the Taifa Stars. One of the first things he’ll point out to you is that his name is spelled with two Es, and not an ‘i’ and an ‘e’ at the end. Emmanuel was a former Nigerian international with 9 goals in 27 appearances for his country. He has had spells with some African clubs most notably Al Khartoum SC from 2017 to 2018. He also had a stint with the Nigerian Youth team (U17) from 2014 to 2017. He was appointed head coach of the Tanzania national team on 6th August 2018 and helped steer them to qualification. Amuneke has a host of experienced guys to rely on, with most of them featuring for their nation on multiple occasions. His main concern will be the quality of players in his team which are generally low. He will have to set up his side to work very well as a group to get the required results.

How they qualified

The Taifa Stars amassed eight points from 18 to secure a place in Egypt. They kicked things off with a 1-1 draw against Lesotho and later lost to them in the reverse fixture (1-0). Amuneke’s men also lost to Cape Verde in their first encounter (3-0) and got their revenge at home in their next meeting (2-0). Tanzania had a good record against Uganda in two matches, getting 4 points from 6 including a convincing 3-0 win in the final fixture.

Who’s in their group?

Amuneke’s team will play against Algeria, Senegal and Kenya in Group C.

How have they fared against those teams in the past?

Tanzania have had the opportunity to face Kenya on 48 occasions, losing 20 and winning 14. The Taifa Stars have only won once against Algeria in 10 encounters (1W 4D 5L). Tanzania are yet to beat Senegal in any match, losing 1 and drawing 1.

Key player

Mbwanna Samatta will be key to any hopes of Tanzania. The forward was prolific for Belgium club Genk last season, scoring 32 times in 53 matches which helped his side win the Belgian Pro League. He also scored twice in the qualification round for his country. He has already scored 17 in total for Tanzania and will hope to add to his tally in Egypt.

Player to watch

Aishi Manula is one of the players to look out for in the tournament. The Simba goalkeeper has been superb since signing for the club in 2017 and even earned the golden glove award. He will be key to keeping other countries from scoring.

Did you know?

Tanzania is made up of at least 120 tribes, each significant in their own way. Each of them is culturally distinguished by their unique masks, hand-woven baskets, batiks, items carved out of ebony or rosewood and so on. The huge number of tribes has contributed to over 120 languages spoken in the country with Swahili being the official one.

How far will they go?

The side is currently unlikely to qualify for the next round with the likes of Senegal, Kenya and Algeria as their opponents. It will take a huge effort to change that.
  • Profile by: Bill Eshun
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15 years on from their Nations Cup triumph on home soil, the Carthage Eagles are hoping to win another piece of silverware. Tunisia finished first in their qualifying group ahead of Egypt, beating the hosts along the way. After five Quarter final exits in their last seven tournaments, the nation expects a much-improved showing at this year’s centerpiece.Confidence is high and with talisman Msakni back to fitness, Tunisia head into the tournament as one of the dark horses.

Overview

Head coach Alain Giresse is no stranger to AFCON, having coached five sides on the continent. His best finish at the tournament was a third-place finish in 2012. The Frenchman has been in charge of the Carthage Eagles since 2018 and has been quietly building a formidable side in Northern Africa. Their showing at last year's world cup was an indication of how they might play in this tournament, fast paced end-to-end football. Giresse, however, would hope his team can seal their backline to prevent shipping goals Tunisia only lost once during qualifying; to host nation Egypt. They still finished top of the group with 15 points, and five wins under their belt. They also conceded only 4 goals during qualifying. The Carthage Eagles can consider themselves a powerhouse in African football; one AFCON win in 2004, two runner-up finishes in 1965 and 1994 and two fourth-place finishes in 1978 and 2000. Five Quarter final appearances in the last seven editions of the tournament has seen the nation put their faith in Alain Giresse to deliver a repeat of their 2004 triumph. Head Coach Alain Giresse was appointed in December 2018, succeeding Fauozi Benzarti who was caretaker after Nabil Malooul's exit. Giresse is a former french international, He was a member of the Euro 84 winning team, and alongside Michel Platini, Luis Fernández and Jean Tigana, forming the team's legendary "Carré Magique" (Magic Square) in midfield. Giresse heads into Egypt with a lot of experience; having guided Gabon, Mali and Senegal to successive AFCON tournaments. With a balanced squad blessed with skill and talent from the likes of Msakni, Sliti and Khazri, there is a lot of hope for the North Africans.

How they qualified

Tunisia earned 15 points from 6 games to book a place in Egypt, finishing above hosts Egypt. They kicked things off with a victory over Egypt, went on an unbeaten run but lost in the return fixture in Alexandria. The Carthage Eagles finished with 12 goals and conceded only 4 in qualifying

Who’s in their group?

Tunisia are in Group E alongside Giresse's former team Mali, Angola and minnows Mauritania

Star player

Wahbi Khazri. Khazri has enjoyed a fine season in Ligue 1 with Saint-Etienne scoring 13 goals helping his side push for a fourth-place finish. The fiery striker is likely to start for Tunisia and will be the sides main source of goals. As a senior professional plying his trade in Europe Khazri is likely to be a leader both on the pitch and in the dressing room for his nation. Surprisingly, Khazri has only scored 12 goals at international level and will be hoping to fire Tunisia to glory in Egypt

Did you know?

In Tunisia, women can pass on their names and nationalities to their children. Tunisia is one of the most liberal countries in the Maghreb region in as a far as women rights are concerned. There have been various law reforms to bridge the rights gap between men and women. Recently, Tunisia passed law that allows women to pass nationality to children.Other than nationality, women can pass their family names onto their children (ina some ways recognizing single parents). The law also allows women to equally inherit property from their parents.

Player to watch

Dijon's Midfield schemer Naim Sliti is the man to watch. After contributing 10 goals and 10 assists and saving them from relegations with two goals in the play-offs, Sliti is ready to take the spotlight in Egypt. With Khazri and Msakni around him, we might be in for a treat this tournament

How far will they go?

The attack of Wahbi Khazri, Youssuf Msakni and Naim Sliti has the skill and technique to beat any defence. If they can create chances consistently, a repeat of their 2017 quarterfinal finish could at least be on the cards.
  • Profile by: Bill Eshun
  • Follow all Tunisia's games with #JoyAFCON. There’s live radio commentary on Joy 99.7FM, post-match programs on Joy FM, JoyNews TV (available via MultiTV Digibox and on DStv channel 421), Joy Prime (on DStv 281), analysis shows, and fanzones. Follow complete social media coverage on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram with @JoySportsGH.
The Cranes are preparing for their seventh appearance. Uganda played in the competition for the very first time in 1962 and finished a creditable fourth (only four teams played in that edition). Their next attempt was a huge failure, losing all three group stage matches in 1968. The 1974 edition saw the Cranes experience the same fate, losing two and drawing one in the group stage. They secured qualification to the next one in 1976 and it was a huge disaster once again, losing all three of their group stage matches. There was a significant improvement in the 1978 tournament. Uganda earned the silver medal, losing 2-0 to Ghana in the final of the eight-team tournament. The recent past competition ended in another group stage exit for the Cranes, something they hope to avoid this year.

Overview

Uganda faced a long painful wait for another shot at winning the AFCON after placing second in 1978. It took the citizens of Uganda 39 years to finally have the chance to see the men’s team participate in the AFCON tournament once again. They made it back in 2017 and did not have to wait long to book a flight back to their country. They drew one and lost two in the group stage in what was a subpar performance from the Cranes. Uganda are now 16th in the African continent and 80th overall in the FIFA rankings. Sebastien Desabre will look to change all that as the coach of the side. Sebastien has vast experience in club management in the continent including Ismaily Football club in Egypt, ASEC Mimosas in the Ivory Coast, CS Garoua in Cameroon, ES Tunis in Tunisia, Clube Recreativo Desportivo Libolo in Angola, JS Saoura in Algeria and Wydad Athletic Club in Morocco. His journey has not yet ended in silverware and he would hope to change that with Uganda after securing the job in December 2017. Sebastien has a host of players who have featured on multiple occasions with an average age of 25.6 years. He does have to handle the team with a couple of players out. Denis Iguma and Moses Waiswa will not be available to play the tournament due to injuries. This may prove to be a huge loss for the Cranes.

How they qualified

Uganda managed to book a place in Egypt by placing 1st in Group L, amassing a total of 13 points from a possible 18. The Cranes only recorded a defeat in the hands of Tanzania (3-0). The Tanzanians held Uganda to a draw in the reverse fixture. The rest were victories against Lesotho (3-0 and 0-2) and Cape Verde (0-1 and 1-0).

Who’s in their group?

Uganda will battle it out in Group A with Egypt, Zimbabwe and DR Congo.

How have they fared against those teams in the past?

DR Congo has the slight head to head advantage over Uganda, winning 4 and losing 3 in seven games. The Cranes have lost 15 victories times to Egypt in 20 encounters (15L 3D 2W). Sebastien’s men have been poor against Zimbabwe as well, losing 5 times and drawing 7 in 14 matches (5L 7D 2W).

Star player

Farouk Miya will be tasked to make the difference in Uganda. Farouk is tied for top scorer among the current squad with 21 goals. He also played a significant part in Uganda’s qualification by scoring 3 goals. He will hope to guide his nation past the group stage and hopefully lead them to do one better than they did in 1978.

Did you know?

Buganda kingdom was the most well-known in Uganda. Today, it is the largest of the traditional kingdoms in the country and is bordered on South by Lake Victoria. The name Uganda also comes from the name of this kingdom. Uganda shares Lake Victoria with Tanzania and Kenya. Lake Victoria is also Africa’s largest freshwater lake.

Player to watch

Emmanuel Arnold Okwi is definitely one of the players to watch in the competition. Okwi has already scored 21 goals for Uganda and has shown how dangerous he is in attack. Okwi has scored 22 goals in 29 matches for Simba since 2017, an impressive return for the striker.

How far will they go?

The odds are stacked against them and it will take a real miracle for them to make it to the next round of the competition.
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  • Follow all Uganda's games with #JoyAFCON. There’s live radio commentary on Joy 99.7FM, post-match programs on Joy FM, JoyNews TV (available via MultiTV Digibox and on DStv channel 421), Joy Prime (on DStv 281), analysis shows, and fanzones. Follow complete social media coverage on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram with @JoySportsGH.
Zimbabwe will participate in the Africa Cup of Nations for only the fourth time in their history – but the Warriors have not had much luck. They’ve failed to make it to the next round of the competition in all three attempts. On their debut in 2004, they were bottom of the pile in Group C, beating only Algeria 2-1 and losing to Egypt (1-2) and Cameroon (5-3). They had the same fate in 2006, placing last in Group D. They managed to beat Ghana 2-1, but lost to Senegal (2-0) and Nigeria (2-0). Zimbabwe suffered further heartbreak in the 2017 edition, placing bottom in Group B once again. This was perhaps their worst performance in the tournament with only one point earned against Algeria (2-2). They lost to Senegal (2-0) and Tunisia (4-2). Can they halt the bad streak in Egypt?

Overview

Apart from their inability to make it to the next round of tournaments, they have suffered a lot of heartbreaks in making it to the AFCON. Zimbabwe are striving for some recognition in African football and the world, now earning 109th place in the FIFA rankings and are 26th in Africa. Sunday Marimo Chidzambwa has been tasked as the man to lead the Warriors from the bench. “Mhofu” as he is popularly called in the country is enjoying his fourth spell with the national team and was with them in the 2004 AFCON. Sunday has had the opportunity to manage South African based Free State Stars in 2010. Marimo has not been around without some controversy, notably going through a decade long ban in 2012 from football for match fixing. It will be his opportunity to rewrite his story. Marimo will have to deal with a largely inexperienced defensive setup. Teenage Hadebe is the most capped player among the defenders with 20 appearances. Teenage and his colleagues will face a tough challenge against the likes of Mohammed Salah and Cedric Bakambu.

How they qualified

Zimbabwe did well to top Group G and book a place in Egypt but their run was certainly not a walk in the park. The Warriors amassed 11 points, 2 more than DR Congo. Zimbabwe blitz past Liberia in their first match. 3-0 was the score line. They lost by a lone goal in the reverse fixture. Sunday’s men got a 2-0 win over Congo and also beat DR Congo by two goals to one. The rest were stalemates.

Who’s in their group?

Zimbabwe will battle for next round qualification with DR Congo, Uganda and hosts Egypt.

ow have they fared against those teams in the past?

The Warriors have a good record against DR Congo, winning twice in 4 encounters (2W 1D 1D). Zimbabwe have also posed little threat to the Egyptians in the past, recording 8 defeats and only winning twice in 14 meetings. Sunday’s men have been solid against Uganda, beating them 5 times and drawing 7 in 14 matches (5W 7D 2L).

Star Player

The hopes of Zimbabwe will be on the shoulders of the prolific Knowledge Musona. The smiling Assassin played a huge part in the qualification of Zimbabwe, scoring five goals. He is the top scorer in the current squad with 22 in 37 appearances and will look to add to his already impressive tally in Egypt.

Did you know?

The name of the country was derived from the fortified trading hub, Great Zimbabwe, which was built in medieval times and was used by the people of the ‘Shona’ tribe. The people of this tribe constitute the lion share of the country’s population (70%). One of the largest waterfalls in the world, Victoria Falls, is located on the Zambezi River. It is wider than a kilometer and has a height of more than one hundred meters and the noise of the Victoria Falls can be heard from 40 kilometers.

Player to watch

Khama Billiat is one player to seek. The skillful winger has proven to be a handful for defenses on the PSL. He has proven to be good creatively and can go for goal himself, reaching double figures for the national team (13). He’s already stated that his main aim is to secure a move to Europe after this tournament. So he’s got the drive to create some sparks.

How far will they go?

An uphill task against Egypt and DR Congo awaits. A group stage exit beckons.
  • Profile by: Bill Eshun
  • Follow all Zimbabwe’s games with #JoyAFCON. There’s live radio commentary on Joy 99.7FM, post-match programs on Joy FM, JoyNews TV (available via MultiTV Digibox and on DStv channel 421), Joy Prime (on DStv 281), analysis shows, and fanzones. Follow complete social media coverage on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram with @JoySportsGH.
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