2017 AFCON standard low but competitive, says football lovers
Nigerian football buffs have said that the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) was losing standards though competitive and urged the African Football Confederation (CAF) to review the competition.
They expressed the view that the competitiveness which saw the favourites leave the 2017 competition in Gabon at the preliminary stage meant that there were no minnows in African football.
The enthusiasts said this that for some teams that prepared well ahead, the tournament was worthy of note, while those not ready had been shown the exits.
As unexpected, the tournament is full of surprises and disappointments with the forecast favourites like the defending champions, Ivory Coast, Senegal and Algeria leaving early.
The 31st edition of the biennial championship for African countries in the oil-rich Gabon remains one of the most sought after competitions.
Ex-Super Eagles Coach, Amun, said on Saturday that the stronger teams eventually made it to the final of the tournament but the standards was a bit low.
“The stronger teams made it to the semi-finals and the strongest teams in terms of technical abilities made it to the final. Egypt and Cameroon so far are the strongest.
“The Cameroonian team made it to the finals but I think Burkina Faso team should have been in the final too. I also fancy Senegal too as the most enterprising team in the tournament.
“It is unfortunate that Senegal crashed out of the tournament,’’ he said analysing the countries’ performances.
Amun said that CAF needed to put up some measures to ensure that the standard of the AFCON was improved upon.
“AFCON that I knew very well has lost its value and credibility. The only consolation I have is that we have Cameroon and Egypt in the final; both blended youthfulness and experience.
“Egypt has young and old members which means there is a future for them as far as the competition is concerned.
“I, however, want to suggest to CAF that it should review the competition with the aim of adding value to it. Some matches played in the tournament are too boring.
“It is necessary for CAF to know that AFCON is gradually losing its credibility unlike in the past when people want to see veterans of the game,’’ he said.
Amun said that some players had made the tournament interesting to look forward to owing to the quality of their play.
“In the past spectators look forward to players such as Abedi Pele, Sunday Oliseh, Daniel Amokachi and Stephen Keshi play. That is what I’m expecting.
“I want to see the players take the centre stage from the veteran Egyptian goalkeeper that is above 44 years.
“I urge CAF to revisit the standard of AFCON programmes and create efficiency in the areas of Coaches, Team Administrators and others to improve on their standards.
“The improved standards will help to create a better team, and at the same time, have more discovery such as DR Congo and other teams,’’ he said.
But ex-Nigerian Goalkeeper Trainer, Joe Erico, said that AFCON is quite competitive and he was not surprised at the level of play of the two finalists of the tournament.
“AFCON is quite competitive; I think I have the privilege of watching all the games played so far till yesterday.
“There were no surprises to me and the level of competitiveness is so high; it tells us that there are no more minnows in African football.
“The big countries can now be dispatched by less fancied teams in Africa and this is a plus to the continental competitiveness.
“Egypt can go ahead to win the tournament due to their high and in-depth technicality, but the ruggedness of their Cameroonian counterparts may be a hindrance,’’ he said.
The run to the competition has Group A comprising Burkina Faso, Cameroun Gabon and Guinea Bissau, while Group B has Senegal, Tunisia, Algeria and Zimbabwe.
In Group C are DR Congo, Morocco Ivory Coast and Togo and the Group D comprises Egypt, Ghana, Mali and Uganda.
Expectedly, many analysts had tipped that top ranking teams such as Algeria, Ivory Coast, Gabon and Senegal will spring surprises, but that was not to be.
On records, Algeria was the highest ranked team according to FIFA ranking, and they are expected to do well in the competition but they were knocked out in the preliminaries.
Algeria in Group B could only manage a 2-2 draw in their opening fixtures against less fancied Zimbabwe, the Desert Warriors was beaten by Tunisia 1-2 in the second game.
The Leeken-tutored side then drew Senegal 2-2 in their last game in Franceville to come third on the log and consequently crashed out. Such is a fate that befell the highest ranked team in Africa.
The Ivorian team, however, not only came to the competition with high expectations, they are the defending champions placed in a group that many expected to be a ride for them.
The Ivorian’s did not, however, live up to the hype notwithstanding the parade of stars the team was blessed with.
The Group C contenders failed to dispatch tournament rookies Togo in their first match ending the game goalless. The Elephants could not also overrun the DR Congo team but played 1-1.
The Ivorian’s has nothing at stake again in the last match and was beaten by Morocco 1-0 which means the team did not win any of its matches in the competition.
For Gabon, expectations were on them to perform being the host country and also have in their squad former African Footballer of the Year, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
The team had a woeful campaign in the tournament playing a 1-1 with Guinea Bissau to the disappointment of their cheering home fans.
The team Gabon also played a 1-1 draw with Burkina Faso after which it drew 0-0 with Cameroun to end their woeful campaign in the competition.
After the preliminary matches, Group A was topped with five points by Burkina Faso and was rewarded for their brilliant performances with two draws against Cameroon 1-1 and Gabon 1-1and 2-0 win against Guinea Bissau.
Cameroon was the second runners-up with two draws, 1-1 with Burkina Faso, and 0-0 with Gabon; the Lions, however, beat the weeping team Guinea Bissau 2-1.
Group B standing has Senegal on top with seven points. The Teranga Lions overran Tunisia by 2-0 in the first game and consolidated the victory with 2-0 win over Zimbabwe 2-0 in the second match.
The West African team then played a 2-2 draw with tournament favourites on paper Algeria to scale through.
The runners-up for Group Tunisia had six points. They were spanked 0-2 by Senegal, but defeated Algeria 2-1 and played an impressive 4-2 win over Zimbabwe.
In Group C, DR Congo defied all odds to top the standing with seven points. It played a lone goal win over Morocco and 2-2 draw with the tournament favourite Ivory Coast.
The team eventually walloped the tournament rooky Togo by 3-1 to lead the pack.
The runners-up in Group C Morocco followed with six points it lost 0-1 DR Congo and comfortably dispatched Togo by 3-1 after which it defeated the tournament favourite, Ivory Coast 1-0.
For the Group D, Egypt in spite of a slow start to the campaign led the table with seven points. The Pharaohs played a boring 0-0 draw with Mali in the first match after which it defeated Uganda 1-0.
The Hector Cupper side was, however, able to overrun another tournament favourite Ghana on the last match with a lone goal win. The team qualified from the group without conceding a goal.
The Black Stars of Ghana were, however, second in the standings. The Avram Grant-tutored side played a 1-0 win over Uganda, and had the same result with Mali. Ghana, however, suffered a 0-1 defeat to Egypt.
In the knockout stage, Burkina Faso defeated Tunisia 2-0 while Cameroun after a scoreless duration time was able to beat Senegal 4-3 on penalties with Sadiou Mane penalty miss.
The tournament revelation Dr Congo ended its fiery tale run in the competition when they were beaten by the hopeful Ghana 1-2.
The Pharaohs of Egypt were able to continue with their impressive clean sheet orchestrated by the iconic goalkeeper Assam El Hadary with a 1-0 win over Morocco.
The semi-finals games saw the men sifted from the boys as Egypt defeated hard-fighting Burkina Faso team on penalties 4-3 after 1-1 draw at the regulation time.
The Lions of Cameroun punished tournament hopeful, Black Stars of Ghana’s defensive error with a 2-0 win to book a well-deserved final showdown with the highly technical Egypt.
Ghana and Burkina Faso will on Saturday play for the bronze medal, while Egypt take on Cameroon in the final on Sunday.
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