AFCON 2019 Rough Guide – Group F
Mayhem is never far away when the Cameroon national team is involved. The Indomitable Lions went into 2017’s AFCON tournament in disarray, players refusing to play for the team, and corruption claims inside the football administrative body. But they managed to emerge as champions in Gabon, which would supposedly set the tone for order to reign in the national side, ahead of hosting the competition this year.
However, it was anything but that; a tumultuous World Cup qualifying campaign played its part in the departure Hugo Broos from the managerial hotseat, corruption allegations haven’t quite died down, and they were stripped of the hosting rights for this tournament for security and preparation reasons. Player trouble hasn’t died down either, with Joel Matip still not back in the fold, and some brouhaha concerning Christian Bassogog – the best player in the 2017 tournament. Bassogog has been selected for this tournament, but all is still far from well with Cameroon. And this could either resulting in a resiliently triumphant AFCON, or spell doom. There’s hardly any middle ground with the Lions.
Last Seen: Cameroon beat Egypt in the final two years ago.
Record: That triumph in Gabon is the fifth for the Indomitable Lions.
The Gaffer: Former Dutch midfielder Clarence Seedorf has a record of winning the UEFA Champions League with three different clubs. The ex-Milan man was appointed last year.
If Cameroon think they’re the only ones with national footballing chaos, then Ghana are the equivalent of a huge ‘think again’ sign. The Black Stars have issues of corruption with their football association, an association whose space for a head currently checks as empty. Then there was the issue of Asamoah Gyan, who hadn’t played for the side since 2017 before being called-up, then he left as a result of not being named captain and retired from the national team, before being recalled by the president of the country and then given the armband.
In terms of on-pitch issues, particularly with Nations Cup football, it’s a consistent case of ‘close, but no cigar’ for Ghana. The West Africans have reached the semi-final of every tournament since 2008, but haven’t won any, with three fourth place finishes and two runners-up spots (one of which, they blew a two-goal lead in a penalty shoot-out in 2015). It’s been almost four decades since they were crowned African champions, and after years of constant heartbreak, perhaps football’s fate owes them one.,
Last seen: The Black Stars finished fourth in 2017.
Record: They were champions on home soil in 1978, and four years in Algeria.
The Gaffer: James Kwesi Appiah was appointed in 2017, and the former Asante Kotoko left-back is in his second spell in charge of the national team.
It’s been nine years since Benin Republic made it to the Nations Cup, after years of turmoil. After their last appearance in 2010, the Squirrels national team was dissolved, and they suffered a FIFA suspension in 2016. But they finished second in Group D in qualifying, behind Algeria, for their third ever AFCON appearance, and like the previous campaigns, many don’t expect them to pull off any surprises.
Last Seen: The Squirrels went out of the group stage in Angola nine years ago.
Record: They’ve never gone past the first round in any of their previous three tournaments.
The Gaffer: Michel Dussuyer is in second spell with Benin, the former Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire coach having been first dismissed after the 2010 Nations Cup.
Guinea-Bissau are not particularly constant guests at AFCON parties – they didn’t even have full qualifying campaign until ahead of the 2006 tournament – but Egypt will be their second in succession. After topping a qualifying group that included former champions Zambia, Djurtus may well be confident of pulling off an upset in Egypt. But they know anything beyond three games is quite fanciful.
Last Seen: Guinea-Bissau drew against Gabon on the opening day of the 2017 tournament, but lost two other games to finish bottom of Group A.
Record: That group stage exit in 2017 was their first tournament appearance.
The Gaffer: 52 year-old Baciro Cande previously coached the national team between 2001 and 2010, before getting re-appointed in 2016.
June 25 – Cameroon v Guinea-Bissau (Ismaila)
June 25 – Ghana v Benin Republic (Ismaila)
June 29 – Cameroon v Ghana (Ismaila)
June 29 – Benin Republic v Guinea-Bissau (Ismaila)
July 2 – Benin Republic v Cameroon (Ismaila)
July 2 – Guinea-Bissau v Ghana (Suez)