It may still be 2019. However, the journey to the 2021 edition of the African Cup of Nations has begun in earnest. While the Euro 2020 Qualifiers is coming to an end, fans around the world are witnessing the start of the race to qualify for the 33rd edition of the AFCON, scheduled to be hosted in Cameroon.
While these qualifying games are known to be dominated by the big sides, the narrative has changed in recent times. The gap between the ‘big names’ and the unpopular football-playing sides has continued to reduce in recent times.
Although sides like Algeria started out with a 5-0 win over Zambia (the largest margin in the first round of games), Cameroon could only manage a goalless draw at home, against Cape Verde. Of the first 18 games played in the first round, only two away wins were recorded.
While this says a lot about the state of African football, you must note that sides like Nigeria, Senegal, and Ghana (who won their first games) all started their campaigns at home. Where it gets interesting is how they will fare in their away games, on enemy territory.
Before club football resumes next weekend, all 48 teams competing for an AFCON slot will have played two games. Which of them will start their campaign with wins?
Yet to Play
The Egyptians could only manage a draw with the Kenyans. Unlike the Algerians, they couldn’t make the most of their home advantage. Missing Mohamed Salah to injury must have played a vital role in their draw too.
However, the Tunisians and Moroccans are two other North African countries that have not started their qualifying campaign. Both African football powerhouses will play their first game in front of their home crowd.
How many goals will they score?
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Playing away from home in African football can be pretty tricky. Regardless of how good you are, there are bound to be slip-ups encouraged by the negative atmosphere, especially in Northern Africa.
For most of the top-ranked sides in Africa, their second round of games will be played away from home.
- Nigeria against Lesotho
- Ghana against Sao Tome and Principe
- Algeria against Botswana
- Cameroon against Rwanda
- Senegal against Eswatini
Although the first round largely favored the home teams, can the same occur in the second round? As mentioned earlier, the gap has drastically reduced. Will these round of games produce shocking results that may prove to be a huge deciding factor by the end of 2020?
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Starting from this weekend, all through till the next week, stadiums across Africa will feature superstars, super goals and enjoyable action. Which teams will continue their winning run? Which teams will start their campaign with a win?
Drop your comments and share your thoughts with us.