AFCON 2019:Host Egypt, Defending champions Cameroon knocked out

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Mohamed Salah could not get his Egyptian over the line against South Africa-Sumaya Hisham-Reuters
Mohamed Salah could not get his Egyptian over the line against South Africa-Sumaya Hisham-Reuters

The 2019 edition of the Africa cup of nations continues to throw surprises as defending champions and host are all knocked out of the competition on the same day.

The indomitable Lions of Cameroon and the Pharaohs of Egypt all suffered defeats in the round of 16. The Lions lost to bitter rivals Nigeria by 3 goals to 2 in the first match in Alexandria.

China based Odoin Ighalo gave the super eagles the lead in the 19th minute of play but Cameroon hit back with two goals in quick succession. Forward Stephane Bahoken and Clinton Njie all scored before the close of the first half of play.

The second half of play began as the first with both teams looking to score more goals. It was Nigeria who however equalized as Ighalo got his brace for the game making at the 63rd minute to make it 2 all. There was however a suspicion of offside but the referee let it stand. Arsenal player Alex Iwobi then snatched the winner just three minute late to send his side into the quarter finals.

Speaking in a press conference shortly after their defeat, Cameroon’s Head Coach Clarence Seedorf seems to downplay the lost. He said “I feel very sorry. We played well but this is football. I don’t think about my future now and all I want is to evolve this team for the future.

Cameroon’s elimination from the competition may have consequences for the coach and his assistant. The tasked given to Clarence Seedorf when he took over from Hugo Broos was that of defending the title they won in 2017. With their early exit from the competition it is still unclear if the management of football will stick with him heading into 2021 when Cameroon will host the competition-giving the fact that Cameroon is known for hiring and dismissing coaches who don’t meet expectations.

There have even been calls from some football fans and analyst in the country for him to reply. One wrote “If Seedorf is not fired; he should be wise enough to pick home based players and cultivate them for these two years before AFCON 2021 and forget about these so-called professionals”.

Another stated “My opinion is that Seedorf will be fired. It’s not that he did a bad job in Egypt but Cameroon has exceptional skills in sacking coaches especially after competition like this” while another cautioned “this will be the biggest mistake Cameroon will do should we fire Seedorf”.

The day then ended with the host knocked out of the competition by the Bafana Bafana of South Africa. A Thembinkosi Lorch strike at the 85th minute of play was all it took for South Africa to qualify for the quarter finals.

Twitting after the match, JohnBennettBBC said “none of the players stopped in the interview area outside the stadium. Mohamed Salah looked very emotional. He didn’t appear fully fit tonight after being ill this week.”

Egypt’s lost has had wide spread ramification with the coach and President of the Egyptian FA all being liberated. Egyptian President Abou Reidah Hany resigned while the coach Javier Aguirre was dismissed.

Hany while announcing his resignation called on his fellow board members to resign. His resignation stated: “Hani Abu Reidah announced his resignation from the presidency of the Egyptian Football Federation and also invited the members of the Board of Directors of the Union to resign, following the departure of the first national team from the round of 16 of the Africa cup of Nations organized in Egypt”.

The Egyptian side had been seen as one of the favorites to win the competition coupled with the fact that they are hosting the competition. The last time they hosted the competition was backed in 2006 and in that year finished as winners. This year however proved different with star man Mohamed Salah failing to get his team over the line against South Africa.

The defeat is almost something as a revenge for the South Africa. The team lost to Egypt in their bid to replace Cameroon as host for the 2019 edition, which Egypt won with a landslide victory. South Africa received just one in their pursuit to host the sporting jamboree.

Nigeria will thus face South Africa in the quarter finals as both side look to reach the finals in the competition.

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