The Road To AFCON Quarter Finals, Battle For The Strong

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By Emmanuel Ebimoh

It’s been nothing but sheer footballing spectacle in the ongoing 2019 Total African Cup of Nations. The grit, the shots, the dribbles; sleek passes and devastating goals, the heart-breaking moments, boisterous celebrations; joy of victory and the pain of defeat, have all culminated in a spectacle that would be remembered for many decades. The African continent has come alive with the unity and passion of football, dished out clearly in the African style.

In the past 18 days, 24 teams have been on the battlefield slugging it out for glory in Egypt. In contrast to previous AFCON tournaments, there were a few changes in this year’s showdown. After the group stages 12 teams qualified as first and second from each group, with 4 teams also qualifying as best third placed team, taking the number of total qualified teams to 16.

As with many other international football tournament, the rhythm of the 2019 AFCON started in a little low tune at first, but promptly shot up as the competition progressed. It did not take too long before the ‘big boys’ came into the party and showed why they were tipped as part of the tournament favourites.

However, while the ‘big boys’ danced to the show, a certain debutant in the competition decided to unabashedly join the party in the most spectacular manner. Madagascar, or The Barea as they are fondly called, have been without a doubt the tournament’s surprise package so far. After being paired in the group stage with potential big guns – Nigeria, Guinea, and Burundi – The Barea of Madagascar showed no respect to titles or past glories as they comfortably glided through to finish at top position in the group without losing a game. They maintained the momentum to the round of 16 when they faced Democratic Republic of Congo. As expected, it was not going to be easy in the knockout stage but The Barea showed more determination and class and were rightly rewarded with victory on penalty shoot-outs.

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While Africa, and indeed, the rest of the world await more surprises and beautiful footballing display in the quarter finals of the competition, Madagascar would surely have more to prove than just being an ‘underdog’.

Meanwhile, the pairings for the quarter finals have been decided. It promises to be filled with more action as we will see some of the best in the continent lock horns in some fierce but entertaining battles. At the Cairo International stadium on Wednesday, 10th June, the reawakening of a long term football rivalry will be ignited. It will be a colossal battle as the Super Eagles of Nigeria play Bafana of South Africa.

Teranga Lions of Senegal will slug it out against The Squirrels of Benin, while The Elephants of Ivory Coast battle against the Desert Warriors of Algeria on Thursday. In the last quarter final game, The Barea of Madagascar will hope to continue their fantastic run of form when they trade tackles with the Eagles of Carthage of Tunisia on Thursday.

For all the detailed preview and post-match analysis during the competition, stay tuned with 9News Nigeria.

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About Emmanuel Ebimoh 461 Articles
Emmanuel Ebimoh is a Writer, Poet, Editor, and Football Enthusiast. He writes from Lagos, Nigeria. You can reach him on emmyebimoh@gmail.com

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