AFCON Semi-Finals Preview

With under a week to go until the big final, we are now down to just four teams. South Africa, the Ivory Coast and Benin have all gone home. As have surprise package Madagascar, who can be more than pleased with their AFCON debut. We look ahead to the semi-finals.

Semi Final One, Senegal v Tunisia, 14/7/19

Sunday’s first semi-final see’s current tournament favourites Senegal take on Tunisia. Both sides avoided slip-ups in their previous games against lower ranked sides in Benin and Madagascar respectively.

For Senegal, fans will be hoping this is finally their tournament. Years of promise have amounted to little for countless talented Senegal sides. Although the team has looked far from spectacular and fluid in their victories, they have got the job done. They have enough individual quality that even on a bad day they can get the job done.

Tunisia finally began to show some attacking flair in the quarter-finals. They looked much better going forward against Madagascar, scoring 3 in the process. This was by far the best attacking display and they managed to score as many goals in one game as they had in the entire tournament. Being underdogs will suit the side, as they will be able to remain compact defensively and look to exploit Senegal on the break.

I tipped Senegal to win the tournament, and I still believe they are good enough to do so. However, their performances have been far from convincing, and I have a sneaky suspicion that this game will suit a Tunisia side that are resolute in defence and can frustrate better opponents.

 

Semi Final Two, Algeria v Nigeria, 14/7/19

What a game we have for the second semi-final. Algeria have looked excellent throughout the knock-out stages, but needed penalties to see of the Ivory Coast. Nigeria have also shown signs of quality, coming through a thriller against Cameroon before seeing off South Africa.

Algeria fans will be full of belief that this is their year. The team should’ve seen off Ivory Coast long before the penalty shootout, but Bounedjah missed a penalty during normal time which could have killed the game off. Like Senegal, they have quality in all areas and have shown glimpses of the sort of silky attacking football they can play. One issue may be the fitness of Atal, who limped off during the quarter final. He has been immense this tournament and could be a big miss.

Nigeria know how to get the job done at AFCON. Despite being a relatively young team, they have shown know how and resilience, highlighted with their last minute winner against South Africa. Going forward they have enough talent to worry Algeria, especially without Atal at full back. Musa, Chukwueze and Iwobi will look to exploit any weaknesses.

This is a hard one to predict. My head says this is Algeria’s year to finally win the tournament. However, they have history of falling at the last hurdle, whereas Nigeria know how to win this competition. I’ll go with the Desert Foxes, but would not be surprised if this goes to the lottery of a penalty shootout.


Featured image | Afcon 2008 | wikimedia commons 

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Best of Africa.

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