Africa’s pageant is such a ball

2017-02-05 06:04
Egypt players celebrate.

Libreville - The 31st edition of the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) has been remarkable for some countries and not so for others.

It has been a memorable three weeks as the best of the continent showcased their talent on the African stage.

Sunday evening marks the end of the continental showpiece which has mesmerised many football nations.

While some have enjoyed every minute of the tournament, others would wish to quickly erase it from their memories.

Top stars fail to make a mark

If there is any lesson learnt from Gabon it is that the stage can be too big for some top stars as the so-called minnows stood their ground against big-name players.

Not many would have bet on defending champions Ivory Coast, pre-tournament favourite Senegal and north African giants Algeria failing to reach the last four of the tournament.

In fact, the defending champions were knocked out after the first round, together with the host nation.

Newly crowned African player of the year Riyad Mahrez also failed to inspire Algeria to progress beyond the opening round.

They finished third behind Senegal and Morocco.

The other two finalists, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Sadio Mané, also failed to live up to their pre-tournament billing and left after the first and second rounds, respectively.

Who needs motivation when you have El-Hadary

Like vintage wine, veteran goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary proved his worth once again after helping Egypt reach the final.

The 44-year-old not only becomes the oldest player to ever grace the tournament but also led from the back as he inspired the Pharaohs throughout the tournament.

He kept four clean sheets and just conceded one in the semifinal against Burkina Faso.

He crowned it all by saving two penalties against the Burkinabe.

Comeback kids

Egypt are, without a doubt, the story of the tournament.

Making a return since winning the event in 2010, the Pharaohs continued where they left off in Angola.

They are now a step away from winning their eighth title.

Bancé the man

Despite not reaching the final, Aristide Bancé was the star attraction in Gabon.

The towering Burkina Faso striker’s every move was cheered by the locals.

And he did not disappoint as he left with two goals to his name. Perhaps his trademark blond mohawk was the reason for his popularity.

Woeful pitches

The standard of the pitches, particularly in Oyem and Port-Gentil, was not up to scratch and this contributed to the lack of quality and injuries too.

Egypt lost goalkeeper Ahmed El-Shenawy in their opening game.

Ghana lost defender Baba Rahman for the rest of the tournament while the Burkina Faso duo of Jonathan Pitroipa and Jonathan Zongo were also out with injuries.

Gabon had casualties too with Juventus midfielder Mario Lemina and fullback Johann Obiang missing out.

Where are the supporters

From the opening ceremony of the tournament it was clear that the supporters had issues with the event with only a few turning up.

It was the case with all other matches as not even a single game, including those involving the hosts, had a capacity crowd.


Like any other tournament, this year’s edition had its casualties too. After failing to lead their countries to continental glory a few coaches decided to throw in the towel.

First was Algeria’s Georges Leekens, followed by Zimbabwe’s Callisto Pasuwa.

Michel Dussuyer has also resigned as coach of Ivory Coast after the defending champions failed to advance from the group stage.

It did not end there as Henryk Kasperczak quit Tunisia after losing to Burkina Faso in the quarterfinals.

Read more on:    ivory coast  |  egypt  |  afcon 2017  |  gabon  |  soccer


Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Live scoring

Love 2 Meet
Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter


The 2018/19 Absa Premiership season is in full swing. Will Mamelodi Sundowns retain their title? Or can one of Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates, Wits, SuperSport United - or another team perhaps - snatch glory from the Brazilians? Be sure to visit Sport24 for all the latest news!

Latest blogs

After Stuart Baxter stepped down as Bafana Bafana head coach, who would you like to see take over?

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.