The AFCON 2019 is set to kick off this week and the weekend witnessed a number of friendly fixtures featuring the participating teams. Here is a look at the winners and losers from the action. Bet on football here.
The Chipolopolo Stars of Zambia might have failed to qualify for AFCON 2019, but they have been excellent over their last couple of fixtures. They have only failed to win in one of their last five outings and their 3-2 win against Morocco over the weekend was just incredible. They went ahead on two occasions and the Moroccans kept replying until Enock Mwepu sealed the tie with a 74th minute strike. Patson Daka stole the limelight after registering three assists whilst playing from the right wing. They will be happy that they could dent the confidence of one of the favourite teams to win the AFCON.
Uganda Cranes finished their training camp with a morale-boosting 1-0 win against West Africa giants Ivory Coast. Faruku Miya scored the all-important goal in the 35th minute with a well drilled penalty as they set out to defend the result for a majority of the remaining time. The Ugandans will be hopeful of going past the group stage this time around and they have shown during the preparations that they can move to the next level.
Mo Salah and Egypt
Mohamed Salah and Egypt were once again on the winning side as they beat Guinea by a 3-1 score line in their international friendly. Salah came off the bench to inspire Javier Aguirre’s men in defeating the Syli Nationale. The Liverpool forward had the final say after setting up two goals for the hosts in the final quarter of proceedings. The Pharaohs will begin their search for a first AFCON title since 2010 against Zimbabwe on June 21, before games against DR Congo and Uganda respectively.
Algeria and Mali used their friendly match over the weekend to prepare for the AFCON and it was an exciting encounter. Algeria found themselves chasing the match after 30 minutes but Mali will regret that Baghdad Bounedjah was fit for the Algerians. Bounedjah scored the equaliser but Mali managed to go ahead before losing their calm to surrender the fixture to Algeria. This will have been a big blow to them ahead of the AFCON showcase though they can take heart from the two goals they scored.
Harambee stars showed yet again that they lack the spine to protect a result as they surrendered their lead late in to the match when they played the Democratic Republic of Congo. Kenya took the lead in the first half through Michale Olunga after being set up by Ayub Timbe. Head coach Sebastian Migne was left to rue their chances as he warned that they need to change their mentality if they are to win closely contested fixtures. This was an opportunity for them to stamp their authority but they failed after Patrick Matasi allowed in a late goal.
Nigeria were unfortunate to lose to Senegal by a solitary goal in the just concluded friendly match played over the weekend. This was an opportunity for both sides to test their strength ahead of AFCON and the Super Eagles were found to be wanting. Idrissa Gueye won the match for the Lions of Teranga in the 20th minute after latching on to a defensive mix up in the Super Eagles’ penalty area.