Nigeria in Group B of the upcoming AFCON 2019
This past week the whole of Africa tuned in to the draw for the 2019 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Egypt. The Nigerians, who many see as one of the favourites to win the trophy this year, were also waiting in anticipation.
The draw took place at the Pyramids Centre in Cairo, in front of the ancient pyramids. Legends like Mustapha Hadji from Morocco, El Hadji Diouf from Senegal and Egypt’s own Ahmed Hassan were all in attendance. Cameroon great Rigobert Song and Yaya Toure from Ivory Coast were also there.
This is the full 2019 AFCON draw:
Group A – Egypt, DR Congo, Uganda, Zimbabwe
Group B – Nigeria, Guinea, Madagascar, Burundi
Group C – Senegal, Algeria, Kenya, Tanzania
Group D – Morocco, Ivory Coast, South Africa, Namibia
Group E – Tunisia, Mali, Mauritania, Angola
Group F – Cameroon, Ghana, Benin, Guinea-Bissau
As one of the top performing and ranked African nations, Nigeria was in Pot 1 for the draw with Egypt, Senegal, Tunisia, Cameroon and Morocco. On the face of it, the Super Eagles have had a good draw and are favourites to win the group. Nigeria are by far the best-ranked nation among the four in the group. Guinea is currently ranked 68th; Madagascar is in 107th place while Burundi is in 136th place.
Nigeria has qualified for the 2019 AFCON by finishing first in Group E, ahead of Libya, South Africa and Seychelles. Guinea has qualified top of Group H, ahead of Ivory Coast, the Central African Republic and Rwanda. Madagascar finished second in qualifying Group A behind Senegal and ahead of Equatorial Guinea and Sudan. Burundi were second in Group C, behind Mali and ahead of Gabon and South Sudan.
The tournament will open on June 21st and will finish with the final game on July 19th at the Cairo International Stadium. The Super Eagles play their first game on June 22nd against Burundi in Alexandria. They will also play the next two matches in Alexandria, on June 26th against Guinea and on June 30th against Madagascar.
Head Coach Gernot Rohr has already announced two games in preparation for the tournament. They will take on the Ghana Black Stars and Senegal’s Teranga Lions in two friendlies. Ghana game will be played in Nigeria while the Senegal game will take place in Egypt.
Coach Rohr has pointed out that the main thing is to secure that all players finish their season well and stay injury-free. They will have to be well prepared to play during the period with the hottest weather.
This tournament will feature 24 teams for the first time in Confederation of African Football (CAF) history. Host nation Egypt will take on Zimbabwe in the AFCON opener on June 21st in Cairo.