The first round of fixtures in the Africa Cup of Nations have concluded and we take a look at some of the lessons we learned. Bet on AFCON matches here.
Both Teams to Score No dominate
The opening fixtures of this year’s edition of the AFCON witnessed a number of games ending with Both Teams to Score No. Eight out of the 12 fixtures played returned this result and it could be a pointer to the striker crisis on the continent. It had been expected that teams will go out to attack but a good number approached their opening fixtures cautiously. The big strikers were also given close attention but they should find their feet in the subsequent matches.
East African teams are a work in progress
This is probably the most important AFCON championships for the East African contingent of Uganda, Burundi, Tanzania and Kenya. However, things have not gone according to plan for the latter three who lost their opening fixtures to Nigeria, Senegal and Algeria respectively. They were considered outsiders and you can expect them to take lessons from their losses heading into their second matches. Burundi were impressive in their 1-0 loss to Nigeria while Kenya put up a good second half performance that they can build on.
The usual suspects perform well
The increase of participating teams in AFCON from 16 to 24 ensured that a good number of the big boys in the continent will dominate. Egypt, Nigeria, Senegal, Cameroon and Morocco all won their opening fixtures as expected and this will be a pointer to their dominance over the rest of the teams. It will be interesting to see if a number of the new sides can push them in the coming fixtures but from the look of things, you can expect the usual suspects to make it to the later stages of the tournament.
Uganda Cranes on the up
Uganda have been on a consistent upward trend and this was evident in their first game against DR Congo where they won 2-0. Two goals in the first half ensured that they took all three points to top Group A that has the host nation Egypt. Their last AFCON outing saw them exit in the group stage but they have shown that they will not be easy pushovers this time around. They do not have any stand out big names in the side but collectively they are a unit capable of challenging anyone on their day.
Ghana to work on their discipline
Ghana lost an opportunity to take all three points in their first game against a lowly ranked Benin side. This came despite having come from behind to be winning 2-1 at halftime but they have themselves to blame for this. John Boye was shown the red card early into the second half after picking up two yellow cards and this handed Benin the numerical advantage. Ghana will have to be careful especially in terms of discipline lest they find themselves out of the tournament in the group stage.