A coup in African football…the story of the rise of obscure teams in the Cup of Nations

With the conclusion of the eighth final of the African Cup of Nations, held in Ivory Coast, the phenomenon of the rise of small, obscure teams at the expense of the larger teams that had toured for a long time and won African titles on several occasions became apparent. , but they lost in this edition and left the tournament one after another.

The big surprise was the exit of Algeria, Tunisia and Ghana in the group stage, followed by Morocco, Egypt, Senegal (reigning champions) and Cameroon in the quarter-finals.

symptoms of ascent

Features of the rise of stars from unknown teams with no significant football history became evident in the group stage when Mauritania beat Algeria by a clean goal, Egypt stumbled against Cape Verde (2–2), then Mozambique ( 2-2). , Tunisia lost to Namibia (0–1), and Angola drew. With Algeria (1-1).

The Equatorial Guinea national team began its matches in the tournament with a draw with Nigeria (1–1), and a comprehensive 4–2 win over Guinea-Bissau, before defeating the hosts Ivory Coast national team in a Big surprise set up. The country's national team cleared 4-0.

Nigeria's Portuguese coach, José Peseiro, confirmed that he was “not surprised” by the results of the smaller teams during the African Cup of Nations, noting that football had become “more balanced” due to the reduction of differences and development of abilities. .

“I'm not surprised. Football is more balanced now,” said Peseiro, who saw his team Premier Eagles, winners of three titles, fall in a draw against Equatorial Guinea (1-1).

He further said, “There are good players in other teams. The quality of players, training and coaches has become better.”

“There are more and better conditions for players to develop. More players are playing outside these (smaller) countries,” he said.

final price

In the round of 16, defending champion Senegal lost to Ivory Coast (0–1), fourth World Cup champion Morocco lost to South Africa (0–2) and Egypt remained unchanged. , most crowned African champions for the Democratic Republic of Congo on penalties (7 times).

On the other hand, teams whose ultimate dream was to pass the group stage have proven their success and are consistently making their way to the continental crown, such as the Cape Verdean team, Angola, Guinea, Cape Verde and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Congo.

In its fourth participation, the Cape Verdean team, the hidden horse of the tournament, continues its adventure after defeating Mauritania in the round of 16.

Cape Verde topped its group with 7 points, which also included Egypt, Ghana and Mozambique.

The Cape Verde national team started their campaign with a surprise win over Ghana by two goals to one, before defeating Mozambique with a clean score, and then concluding the group stage with a two-goal draw with the Egypt national team. Done with a fatal draw with two goals scored.

In the last 16, they defeated Mauritania by a clean goal to set up a quarter-final clash with South Africa in Yamoussoukro on Saturday.

“We have a lot of good players in our country, but there are also children of immigrants who live in the Netherlands or Portugal and who have been included in the national team,” team captain Ryan Mendes said.

He said, “I think we have progressed a lot in the last few years and now we have a chance to play in the quarter-finals. I hope we can beat South Africa and qualify for the semi-finals because it “It will be an extraordinary event.” ,

Angola, the lowest-ranked team (117th place), is trying to win the first title in its history, after topping its group, which also included Algeria, Burkina Faso and Mauritania.

Angola, led by their Portuguese coach Pedro Gonsalves, qualified after excellent results, including an opening 1–1 draw with Algeria, then 3–2 wins over Mauritania and 2–0 wins over Burkina Faso.

Next Friday, Angola will face Nigeria, who won a thrilling 2-0 title win against Cameroon, in the quarter-finals at the Félix Houhouët-Boigny stadium in the capital Abidjan.

Mali and Democratic Republic of Congo

After topping their group with 5 points following a win over South Africa and draws with Namibia and Tunisia, and setting up a torrid date by defeating Burkina Faso in the quarter-finals, the Mali national team is currently in contention to win the title. One of the favourites. Ivory Coast in the quarter-finals.

In turn, the Democratic Republic of the Congo qualified for the quarter-finals by finishing second with 3 points after 3 draws with Tanzania, Morocco and Zambia, before defeating Egypt on penalties and setting up a date with Guinea in the final. Did.

“What we have achieved is not a surprise for me, because we are performing at a strong level and we could have scored more goals in previous matches,” Sebastien Desabre said in a press conference before facing Guinea. So we have to improve some aspects.” ,

“Before the tournament we were ranked 13th and now we are among the top 8 teams in Africa, and we will continue to move forward to achieve our ambitions in this tournament,” Desbrey said.

expectations
Opta Numbers and Statistics Network, in its assessment before the start of the quarter-finals, reported that the Nigerian national team tops the list of candidates to win the title with a percentage of 28.8%, but will have to overcome a tough and stubborn Angola. ,

The Ivory Coast national team is third on the list of candidates with 13.5%, behind the Mali national team (14.7%).

On the other hand, the Democratic Republic of the Congo ranked fourth (9.4%), followed by Cape Verde (8.8%), South Africa (8.7%), then Angola (8.3%) and Guinea (7.8%).

But analyzes have yet to prove the validity of their expectations in the light of a major shift in the map and balance of football power in Africa, which means there will be more surprises in the quarter-finals.

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