The desert Warriors
Yesterday, we began our preview of the AFCON 2017. While the previews on this site will not be the types you are used to where focus is majorly on the star players and statistics; we will go straight to the crust of each team and give our opinion on who is likely to make it out of each group. So here we go!
This group consist of Algeria, Senegal, Tunisia and Zimbabwe. We have two past winners, a runners up and an attendee. However; it is a tough and dicey group where the first matches will likely determine who progresses to the next round.
Algeria, nicknamed the ‘Desert Warriors’ arguably boasts of the best collection of individual players to this tournament. Many pundits have given this Nations Cup to them due to the quality of their midfield and attack. What is lacking is the winning mentality required at this level of competition. Winning is not all about flair and flicks; grit and doggedness are required on the continent to triumph.
If they pull themselves together and determine that they want to go far, they certainly have what it takes. A second round berth is not beyond them if they successfully navigate their first encounter Zimbabwe.
Senegal was the darling of many African fans who seemed tired of the domination of Cameroun and Nigeria at the world stage. Unfortunately since 2002, they seemed to have fallen to the same lethargy that befell Nigeria after their exploits at Japan – Korea. Senegal hadn’t achieved anything significant in African nor world football since then until last year when they were ranked as the number one team in Africa.
Unfortunately, they haven’t been throwing up quality players as in the past save for Sadio Mane. They have their work cut out in this group as they have to overcome the slippery Tunisians and pick up maximum points against Zimbabwe to move ahead.
They are strong, mobile and skillful to cause problem for any team on their day. This is also an opportunity for the ‘Teranga Lions’ to announce to Africa that they are back and for good!
The Cartage Eagles
Tunisia won at home in 2004 to register the sole triumph on the continent. The Cartage Eagles have a good mix of experience, balance and skill. But they lack the killer instinct!
They can hold the ball and keep the opposition chasing away but they need to learn how to put the ball in the net. This may be their undoing in this group. They have a group record of getting out of the group stage but this could be the third time they won’t make it out of this stage in seven attempts.
Zimbabwe has not done well in the AFCON since inception. This does mean a lot in football as pedigree do come into play at this type of tournament. It will be recorded as a major upset and achievement if the ‘Warriors’ win any of their three matches in this group. All the same, they must approach each match believing that they could get something out of their encounters otherwise; it could turn out to be a competition to forget!