Afcon 2019: A look ahead at the last 16

Kenya’s adventure at the African cup of nations (AFCON 2019) came to an end with a spirited performance and loss to Senegal, 3-0. However, the show must go on, and the remaining sides in the competition will proceed to the last 16, from whence it will be a straight knockout all the way to the finals. Here are some thoughts on the competition so far:

Harambee stars did the best they could

Ever since being drawn in a tough group with Algeria and Senegal, Kenya’s best route always looked like finishing among the third-placed sides. A 2-0 loss to Algeria in the first game was a reminder of how difficult this AFCON thing really is. 

A spirited 3-2 triumph against Tanzania will live long in the memory. 2-1 down in the second half, Kenya fought back with two goals from Johanna Omollo and Michael Olunga to win that game. Unfortunately, against the second best African side, Senegal, we had no answer as Sadio mane scored twice and sent us packing.

Questions will be asked, about the team, as they should, when a team doesn’t do too well at a tournament. Is Victor Wanyama’s time in the team over? Why were some players selected to go to AFCON and never got to kick a ball in anger? Why did our defensive performance turn out so poorly? However, these are part and parcel of the game. They must be answered satisfactorily if we are to grace AFCON 2021.

Performances from Patrick Matasi, Michael Olunga, Johanna Omollo, youngster Joseph Okumu, and Eric “Marcelo” Ouma have been brilliant. Even as a post-mortem on Kenya’s performance is done, they should be congratulated for wearing the national jersey with pride and distinction.

AFCON started off fast, slowed down but should pick up from here

The sixteen teams remaining in the competition are  Morocco vs. Benin, Uganda vs. Senegal, Nigeria vs. Cameroon, Egypt vs. South Africa, Madagascar vs. DR Congo, Algeria vs. Guinea, Mali vs. Ivory Coast, Ghana vs. Tunisia. The games will be played from Friday 5th July 2019 to Monday, 8th July 2019.

Standout fixtures will be Nigeria vs. Cameroon, Uganda vs. Senegal, and Mali vs. Ivory Coast.

Madagascar is no doubt the talk of the tournament so far. Participating in their first ever AFCON, they have done wonders to qualify for the second round, even beating Nigeria in the group stage but the Democratic Republic of Congo should hold no fears for this Island nation of Madagascar. 

Going forward, Morocco, Egypt, Senegal, and Algeria are arguably the four best sides in this competition. It will be interesting to follow their performance and results. Let the show go on.

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