AFCON 2019: Rough Guide – Group A
After following their trilogy of Nations Cup triumphs with a trilogy of Nations Cup absences, Egypt are back to being a strong force on the continent. The Pharaohs were runners up in Gabon in 2017, and followed that up with a first World Cup appearance in 28 years. Their tournament in Russia turned sour, though, with three defeats and six goals conceded to finish bottom of Group A.
Hosting the 32nd Nations Cup, Javier Aguirre’s side are seen as one of the favourites to win it. They have an epitome of stardom in Liverpool’s Mohammed Salah, a home fanbase, and a squad strong enough to go all the way.
Last Seen: Despite taking the lead in that game, Egypt lost to Cameroon in the 2017 Nations Cup final.
Record: The Pharaohs are the most successful side in the competition’s history, having won it on seven occasions, the latest of which came in Angola almost a decade ago.
The Gaffer: Former Mexico and Atletico Madrid manager Aguirre took charge after Hector Cuper departed following last summer’s World Cup.
DR Congo have the firm status of former giants in African football, since the turn of the century The Leopards have only been in the Nations Cup quarter-finals three times (although one of which led to a semi-final appearance, in 2015). The Democratic Republic have been proving they can hold their own of late, though, as they came close to qualifying for last year’s World Cup. But there have been too many near misses in the continental big apple, and they had to win a make-or-mar clash against Liberia to get here.
Last Seen: DR Congo fell to Ghana in the quarter-finals two years ago.
Record: The Leopards were African champions in 1968 and 1974.
The Gaffer: 57 year-old Florian Ibenge was appointed in 2014, having had managerial spells with Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua and Congolese team Vita Club.
Uganda are starting to get used to appearing on the continental stage, this tournament in Egypt will be a second in succession for the Cranes, having previously not appeared in one for almost 40 years. Uganda coasted through qualifying, topping Group L with room to spare, but they know a tougher task awaits in Group A of the actual tournament.
Last Seen: Uganda, after two narrow defeats and a draw, finished bottom of Group D in 2017. Incidentally, The Cranes also played Egypt back then.
Record: Uganda lost to Ghana in the final of the 1978 tournament.
The Gaffer: Frenchman Sebastien Desabre was appointed in July 2017, replacing Milutin Sredojevic.
Prior to their appearance in 2017, Zimbabwe had not been seen in the Nations Cup since 2006. In fact, Egypt 2019 is only The Warriors’ fourth ever AFCON tournament. They did top their qualifying group, though, ahead of fellow Group A side DR Congo, and will happily wear the underdog armour in this group.
Last Seen: Zimbabwe finished bottom of Group B in 2017.
Record: The Warriors have never made it past the group stage in their previous three appearances.
The Gaffer: Former Zimbabwe defender and Free State Stars manager, Sunday Chidzambwa was appointed as Zimbabwe’s national team coach in 2017.
June 21 – Egypt v Zimbabwe (Cairo)
June 22 – DR Congo v Uganda (Cairo)
June 26 – Uganda v Zimbabwe (Cairo)
June 26 – DR Congo v Egypt (Cairo)
June 30 – Uganda v Egypt (Cairo)
June 30 – Zimbabwe v DR Congo (Cairo)