Senegal To Win AFCON 2019 As The New Format Favours First Time Winners. Do you doubt it? then let me convince you right away.
On Friday, July 19, 2019, the African football fraternity will be passionately glued to their seats to witness a temper flaring up encounter between the Teranga Lions of Senegal and the Desert Foxes of Algeria at Cairo International Stadium.
The match which will be officiated by Victor Gomes from South Africa will be the final of the 32nd Edition of the African Cup of Nations which has been dubbed as the Tournament of Surprises.
From surprising and overwhelming performances by teams deemed as minnows and walk-overs to the numerous thrilling encounters set this tournament apart from the previous 31 editions hence making prediction very difficult for the bookies.
TotalAFCON2019 Finals Predictions
Prediction in modern football irrespective of the level of competition is very difficult.Characteristically, the deployment of high technical acumen, the desire of players, the expectations from fans, the influence of luck and increasing activities of betting companies have made prediction in recent times a herculean task.
Who wins the AFCON2019?
In spite of the unpredictable nature of such breathtaking encounters, who gets the bragging rights in this Clash of the Titans affairs is dependent on several overriding factors.
The principal of which is the Myth of first time winners of the African Cup of Nations which is built on the law of supply. This myth holds that there is a positive relationship between the number of participating teams and the winners.
Simply, this myth tenaciously asserts that anytime there is an introduction of a new format and the number of participating teams increased, a country which has never won the AFCON trophy emerges the winners.
What the history books say about The Myth of the first time winners?
Since the inception of AFCON in 1957, the number of participating teams and the format in which the tournament is played keep on changing. Starting with 3 teams in an all-play-all manner to 24 competing nations of 52 matches is an appreciable development.
In all, AFCON has seen seven changes in the manner in which the tournament is played. Surprisingly, each format produces a first time winner which increases the winners list.
A comprehensive study and critical analysis of the AFCON history corroborate this assertion. Another prediction shows convinving reasons why Algeria will win on the day in 90 minutes
Format 1 – The Pharoahs of Egypt as the winners
The 1st format which was adopted in 1957 when Sudan hosted the tournament accommodated only 3 participating teams. This format was also used in 1959.
With this arrangement, all the participating teams engaged in all-play-all (round-robin tournament) and at the end, the team with the highest points is declared the winner.
Being the maiden of now the most popular soccer mundane on the continent, Egypt emerged as the eventual winners after beating both Sudan and Ethiopia, in the process beginning a cycle which is yet to come to an end.
Format 2-The Walias of Ethiopia as the Winners
The 2nd format was used in 1962 in Ethiopia. This saw an increase from 3 to 4 participating teams. With this, it was assumed that the 4 teams were in the semi-finals, hence only 4 matches were played.
This format was based on the elimination tournament. It is the only format which was discarded after being used only once.
The outcome of the tournament followed the 1957 tradition. Ethiopia after making previous participations without any success became the eventual winners for the first time when this format was introduced. Till date, it remains their first and only continental trophy.
Format – 3 The Black Stars as the winners
The 3rd format was used when Ghana hosted the tournament in 1963 after the previous one was ditch as a result of increase in the number of participating teams from 4 to 6. This format was also used in Tunisia 1965. This tournament was first to combine the round-robin and elimination methods.
With this, two groups made up of 3 teams each engaged in all-play-all. The winners of each group meet at the final and the winner is established.
Consequently, Ghana which participated and hosted the tournament for the first time won the trophy by beating Sudan 3:0.
Format The Leopards of DR Congo as the winners
In 1968, the 4th format was introduced. With this package, there was an expansion from 6 to 8 participants. So peculiar about this format was that, the qualifying teams were distributed in two groups of four to play single round-robin tournaments, with the top two teams of each group advancing to semi-finals.
This format was in used for over two decades before another format was introduced in 1992.
The outcome of this tournament was not different from the three previous formats. DR Congo which was making its second appearance in the tournament eventually became the first time winner.
Format 5 The Elephants of Ivory Coast as the winners
The 5th format was introduced in 1992 with Senegal as the host. This arrangement saw the participation of 12 instead of the previous 8 teams. This format saw the introduction of 4 groups made up of 3 teams. The first and second in each group after all-play-all progress to the knock-out stages.
The Elephants became first time winners after several unsuccessful attempts since making their debut appearance in 1965.
Format 6 Bafana Bafana of South Africa the winners
The 6th format was introduced when South Africa hosted the 1996 edition. During this tournament, the number of participants increased from 12 to 16 teams. With this, 4 groups made up of 4 teams with the best two advancing to the next stage. It has been in used until it was discarded in 2019.
South Africa hosted and won the AFCON hence entrenching the myth of first time winners with the introduction of new format.
Format 7 – Possibly, the Teranga Lions of Senegal as the winners
The 7th format was introduced in Egypt in 2019. This format has witnessed the participation of 24 teams for the first time, a staggering 52 matches to be played by 552 players.
This format has 6 groups made up of 4 teams. So unique about this arrangement is that the best two in each group qualify automatically to the next level. In addition 4 best performers among the 12 remaining teams get the opportunity to compete in the knock-out stages.
Senegal chasing her first continental title
From the foregoing analysis on the introduction of new formats and its eventual winners, the possibility of Senegal winning her first continental title is not far-fetched.
The Teranga Lions made their debut appearance in 1965 which was hosted and won by Tunisia and Ghana respectively. Since then the quest to become African champions has continued unabated.
Having hosted the tournament once in 1992 and making 15 appearances, Senegal is making her second final appearance after the first one ended in disappointment in Mali, 2002.
Senegal are on the way to winning AFCON 2019 as the new format favours first time winners. Do you doubt it? then let me convince you more…
The following are some of the motivating factors that may propel Senegal to victory as postulated by the Myth of first time winner.
1. Current Form of Senegal – Teranga Lions
It is an undeniable fact that the Teranga Lions have been the best national team on the continent for sometime now.
Their scintillating and impressive performances displayed prior to and during this tournament cannot be understated.
Led by Sadio Mane who has tasted back to back champions league finals with Liverpool, the star-studded Senegalese sides cannot afford to falter at this stage.
Although Algeria equally has an impressive squad, the desire to justify why Senegal is consistently ranked by FIFA as number one on the continent and the desire to be in the history book as the first squad to deliver the AFCON glory to Senegal is enough to motivate them to overcome any hurdle on their path to win their first ever continental trophy.
2. The experience of Aliou Cisse as a losing captain and now as a coach
In addition to the above, both teams have impressive coaches who are the brains behind their success stories. Coincidentally, they are both local coaches who were former national players.
Although, Algeria under Djamel Berlami have been transformed into a very formidable team within the past 12 months with just one loss in 15 matches, Senegal under the guardianship of Aliou Cisse has equally been impressive.
He has been able to build a very formidable team that was very spectacular in Russia 2018. They missed narrowly to qualify to the knock-out stages due to FIFA Fair Play rule.
In addition, they are currently the number one ranked on the continent and 22nd in the world. His desire to add a trophy to these remarkable achievements will motivate his chargees to go for the ultimate.
Again, the superiority of Djamel Berlami in terms of head to head advantage over West African football giants will motivate Aliou Cisse to end his winning streak.
In his short stints as a coach for Algeria, he has drawn with Benin, beaten Mali, Senegal, Ivory Coast and Nigeria.
Being the captain of the legends whose heroic exploits in Japan-South Korea and Mali 2002 situated Senegal in the World football map, Aliou Cisse would like to go a step further to cement his legendary status by being the first coach to deliver the AFCON trophy to Senegal as well as the first West African coach to defeat Algeria in this tournament.
In order to achieve this, he must win come what may and I believe strongly that the emotional trauma that he experienced on the field when they lost to the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon in 2002 will do the magic for him.
3. Head to Head Analysis
It must be acknowledged that not only has the Desert Foxes defeated their counterpart 1:0 in the group stages but also have a better head to head advantage over the Teranga Lions.
Previously, there has been 22 encounters between these two sides. Senegal has 4 wins, 5 draws and 13 losses.
For over 11 years, Senegal is yet to beat Algeria in 5 previous duels. The last time they managed to beat them was on 31st. May, 2008.
Giving the importance of this encounter to the Senegal football history, the Teranga Lions would be motivated to end their abysmal outings against the Desert Foxes by beating Algeria to encrypt their name as one of the superpowers of African football.
4. The outcome of playing twice in the same tournament
Apart from the head to head, this encounter will be the 8th time that two teams in the same group will be battling it out in the final.
Out of the previous 7, 4 of the second placed teams in the group stages were the eventual winners whilst the other winners have been the leaders of the group.
First of its kind happened in Ethiopia 1968 when Ghana defeated DR Congo 2:1 in their first encounter but lost 1:0 at the final.
This was followed in Libya 1982 when Ghana as the second best team in the group beat Libya to win her 4th Continental trophy.
Cameroon repeated this in Morocco 1988 by beating Nigeria in the final after their 2:2 draw in the group stages. Just recently, Nigeria beat Burkina Faso in the 2013 finals after 1 all draw in the group stages.
Contrary to the above, in 1990, the host nation Algeria walloped Nigeria 5:1 in the group stages and defeated them 1 nil at the final. Similarly, Egypt also beat Ivory Coast and Cameroon in both encounters to emerge winners in 2006 and 2008 respectively.
Arguably, it would not be all that shocking should Senegal win this encounter since they will be motivated enough to take a sweet revenge for their lost against Algeria in the preliminary stages.
5. The outcome of West and North African countries in the final
Since the inception of AFCON tournament there has been an intense rivalry between West African Football Union (WAFU) and Union for North African Football Federation (UNAF).
Statistically, whilst the UNAF can boast of 10 trophies (Egypt 7, Morocco 1, Algeria 1 and Tunisia 1), WAFU only has 9 ( Ghana 4, Nigeria 3 and Ivory Coast 2).
History has recorded 5 final clashes between West and North African countries. This rivalry began when Ghana defeated the host nation, Tunisia in 1965. Nigeria repeated this feat by beating Algeria 3:0 when they first hosted the tournament in 1980. Two years later in Libya 1982, Ghana defeated the host in a penalty shoot-out to establish the dominance of WAFU.
However, for the past three decades the UNAF is getting closer to be at par after Algeria and Egypt beating Nigeria and Ivory Coast in 1990 and 2006 respectively.
With Senegal and Algeria representing their respective regional unions, Senegal knowing that a win against Algeria will not only bring the trophy tally to 10 appease but will also entrenched the dominance of WAFU over UNAF will be psychologically motivated enough to beat Algeria.
In spite of the aforementioned motivating factors that may work in favour of Senegal, I am cocksure that based on The myth of first time winner when a new format is introduced in a tournament, there might be a first time winner. Senegal are on the way to winning AFCON 2019 as the new format favours first time winners. you now beleive, dont you?
Though my heart is for the Desert Foxes for their sparkling display throughout the tournament but holding any other factor constant, my bet is on Senegal to win her first ever continental trophy.
Enjoying the game with passion