AFCON 2019 Rough Guide – Group C
If any side gets the tag of underachievers in African football, it’s probably Senegal. The Teranga Lions, for their formidability and pedigree on the continental front, have never won the Nations Cup. In fact, they have failed to get out of the group stage in three of their last four appearances. The West Africans have arguably the strongest squad ahead of this tournament, led by Sadio Mane, and while they could be excused for getting knocked out of last year’s World Cup in the group stage (particularly given how they were knocked out), an early exit in Egypt will be far from acceptable.
Last Seen: Senegal lost to eventual winners Cameroon on penalties in the quarter-finals in 2017.
Record: 2017 wasn’t the first time the Teranga Lions lost to Cameroon on penalties in this competition, as they suffered defeat to the Indomitable Lions via spot-kicks in the final in 2002.
The Gaffer: Aliou Cisse was the captain in that heartbreak in Mali 17 years ago, and also skippered the side during their World Cup journey the same year.
If Senegal are the perennial underachievers in the Nations Cup, Algeria have become something of little more than pretenders on the continent. The Desert Foxes have flattered to deceive in their last three tournaments, playing the role of a talented squad with football that’s pleasing on the eye, but never make past the last eight (two of those tournaments ended after three games). In fact, Algeria have only reached an AFCON semi-final twice since 1988.
Since Vahid Halihodzic left in 2014, the national side has changed managers five further times, highlighting how chaotic things are at the top. That also means the side and coach Djamel Belmadi are under some pressure to deliver a showing in Egypt, pressure of which hasn’t been doused by the decision to drop in-form striker Ishak Belfodil, and the chaos is epitomised by the expulsion of Haris Belkebla from the squad. Another catastrophic tournament isn’t guaranteed to be on the cards, but things haven’t gone smoothly so far.
Last Seen: Algeria were eliminated in the group stage in 2017, in a group that also contained Senegal.
Record: The Fennecs were champions on home soil in 1990.
The Gaffer: Former Algeria midfielder Djamel Belmadi was appointed in August last year. The ex-Manchester City and Celta Vigo man made 20 caps for the national side in his playing days.
The last time Kenya qualified for the Nations Cup, Francileudo Dos Santos and Patrick Mboma were the continent’s feared strikers, Nokia was the sponsor, and Jacob Mulee was their coach, as they planned for a tournament in Tunisia in 2004. Since then, the Harambee Stars have made 14 managerial appointments – including two other different spells for ‘Ghost’ Mulee – and have faced more FIFA bans for government than AFCON qualifications.
But Kenya finally found their way back to the continental big apple, after finishing second in Group F. Qualification for the tournament in itself is an achievement, getting past the group stage would be a carnival.
Last Seen: Kenya beat Burkina Faso but lost two games to go out in the group stage in 2004.
Record: Kenya haven’t gone past the group stage in their four AFCON tournaments. In fact, the Harambee Stars have only won game in the competition’s history.
The Gaffer: Sebastien Migne was appointed in May last year, having previously the Republic of Congo.
For the first time in almost 40 years, Tanzania will play at the Nations Cup proper, after years not entering and withdrawing from the qualifying rounds. Under the stewardship of Nigerian Emmanuel Amunike, the Taifa Stars finished above Lesotho and Cape Verde in Group L in qualifying, and while they’ll be seen by many as the underdogs, Amunike has fostered a work ethic and sense of belief in the squad, and the manager has said they don’t see themselves as minnows in Egypt.
Last Seen: Tanzania finished bottom of Group A in Nigeria in 1980.
Record: That group stage exit 39 years ago is the Taifa Stars’ only ever AFCON appearance.
The Gaffer: Amunike made 27 appearances for Nigeria’s Super Eagles, scoring nine times. The former Barcelona and Sporting Lisbon man has previously coached Ocean Boys and Al Khartoum, while he won the Under-17 World Cup with Nigeria as the gaffer in 2015.
June 23 – Senegal v Tanzania (Cairo)
June 23 – Algeria v Kenya (Cairo)
June 27 – Senegal v Algeria (Cairo)
June 27 – Tanzania v Kenya (Cairo)
July 1 – Algeria v Tanzania (Cairo)
July 1 – Senegal v Kenya (Cairo)