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Moses Simon’s hot form, big teams stumble — 5 talking points from AFCON group stage

Moses Simon’s hot form, big teams stumble — 5 talking points from AFCON group stage
January 21
12:28 2022

The group stage games at the 33rd Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) came to an end on Thursday night with several talking points to chew on.

Big guns like Cameroon, Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt booked their places in the Round of 16.

With the competition getting tougher by the day, we take a look at five things learned from the preliminary phase of the continental tournament.

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Defending champions swept aside

Many didn’t see the Tsunami that hit Algeria coming. The Fennecs emerged as Arab Cup champions and were expected to go far at AFCON 2022.

The defending champions struggled from the very first minute of the competition and scored just one goal. They lost to Equatorial Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire before crashing out.

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Football is an unpredictable game. A team that has Riyad Mahrez and Ismael Bennacer failed to muster more than one point and one goal before being sent home.

The minnows aren’t joking

A couple of upsets were recorded in the first stanza. Comoros stunned Ghana 3-2, Equatorial Guinea defeated Algeria 1-0 and Gambia beat Tunisia 1-0.

Recent events in world football have shown that even the underdogs have the wherewithal to perform at the biggest stage and they haven’t looked out of place so far at the ongoing AFCON.

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Given the performances of the supposedly small teams in the group stage, we can expect more upsets in the Round of 16 as the battle continues across the match centres.

Eguavoen makes history

Augustine Eguavoen, Super Eagles interim gaffer, became the first coach in the history of AFCON to win all group stage games at two different tournaments.

The coach, nicknamed Cerezo, first achieved the feat in 2006 — and now, he has done it again.

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Dull tournament?

According to critics and viewers, the tournament hasn’t lived up to expectations in terms of entertaining football, seeing as many teams appear to be placing more emphasis on physicality and not the technical aspect of the game.

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This feedback must surely be a source of concern to the technical crew of most teams in Cameroon. Just maybe the knockout stage could bring a balance of firepower and excitement.

The Vincent Aboubakar and Moses Simon show

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The 2021 AFCON is gradually turning into a showpiece starring the Nigerian and Cameroonian duo. No player has been as impactful as the two forwards.

With five goals so far, Aboubakar is the engine room of the Cameroonian side. As for Simon, he has been behind anything good done by Nigeria — and he has one goal in his kitty.

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