Round-up : Gigantic Fights For Knockout Tickets

The Pharaohs of Egypt have their knockout ticket.

After two matches played by the twenty-four teams in the tournament, total suspense persist with the last day of play said to be vital.

The train of the 2019 Total African Nations Cup is in motion. While some teams are already booking their tickets for the knockout stage, others are still fine-tuning their strategies to grab a place. After 24 matches during which 43 goals were scored, 19 yellow and 1 red cards issued, it is time to take a break and examine the possible scenarios group-bygroup.

In Group A, it is certain that host country Egypt will progress to the second round of the competition. After two victories, three goals scored and zero conceded, the Pharaohs are topping the classification table with six points. Except a defeat against second placed Uganda with four points, the Pharaohs are sure to end the group at the top position. The fight for the second ticket of the group is now between Zimbabwe and Uganda. With a point at hand, a victory for Zimbabwe and a better goal margin would either place them ahead of Uganda or increase their chances for the second round as one of the best losers.

In Group B, the fight for the first position is still alive. Even though Nigeria has secured a second round ticket, the Super Eagle’s leadership position is not certain. A defeat to Madagascar with four points on the last day of their group game might turn the table. The other encounter pitting Guinea to Burundi is also very vital for both teams. A victory for Guinea will increase their chances for the knockout stage with four points, while debutants Burundi with zero point can still hope to move on with three points depending on the situation in other groups. After several years of dismal performance, Algeria seems to have found the winning code. At the 2019 AFCON, they have registered two sweeping victories that have placed them on the Group C podium with six points. Behind the Fennecs of Algeria, there is a fight for a second ticket between Senegal and Kenya who have so far registered three points each. The last day of play will be very decisive for Senegal that will be clashing against Kenya and Tanzania against Algeria.

Coach Herve Renard’s side, the Atlas Lions of Morocco might have won two of their group matches and assured a second round ticket, but the danger for his team to top the Group D table looms. Though with six points at their credit, the Moroccans have a big match against South Africa that needs a win at all cost to move their tally to six points. In the other encounter, Ivory Coast might make a comeback after a surprised defeat against Morocco. With three points, the Elephants just like the South Africans absolutely need a victory to keep their knockout hopes alive. A draw might compromise their sixteen final chances. Most sports observers did not see it coming, but the handwriting is now clear. Group E seems to be one of the toughest at the 2019 AFCON competition. Apart from Mauritania, the other three contenders are regular AFCON customers. After two matches, no team has succeeded in scoring two victories. Though Mali is topping the chart with four points, her leadership position is highly threatened by two major rivals Tunisia and Angola who have registered two points each.  Their last group encounters pitting Mali to Angola and Tunisia against Mauritania with one point after a goalless draw against Angola might create surprises.

In Group F, current African Champion Cameroon will have to wait until the last day of play to determine her position. Though with four points, the Lions are currently commanding the group classification table, a draw from the boys of Clarence Seedorf against Benin come June 2, will give them the green light for the knockout stage. But in case Benin that has two points beats the Indomitable Lions and Ghana with two points also defeats Guinea Bissau, the two teams will grab the group tickets with five points each, while Cameroon will be looking up to CAF for a possible best loser ticket.

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