24 countries started the competition but the curtain has finally been drawn and we are now left with only two countries to battle it out for the ultimate. The Teranga Lions of Senegal hosts the Desert Foxes of Algeria at the famous Cairo International stadium tonight in the grand finally of the 2019 edition of the Africa Cup of Nations.
Both teams have met already in the competition even before this crucial game tonight. They met in the group stages of which the Desert Foxes run out 1-0 victors thanks to Esperance winger, Youcef Belaili’s 49th minute strike. It was a very difficult and also a decider as to who finishes top of Group C.
The Desert Warriors have undoubtedly remained the best team in the competition so far having lost none of their games. They have drawn only one and won five of their six games honoured so far, having scored 12 goals and conceded only 1.
Djamel Belmadi’s men are part of the teams that advanced from the group stages with all nine points, they dismantled Guinea 3-0 in the round of 16, got held to a 1-1 draw by The Elephants of which they won on penalties. In the Semi final, Manchester City’s Riyard Mahrez late free kick goal aided the Foxes to edge pass Nigeria to the final with a 2-1 victory.
However, the Teranga Lions of Senegal have also been sensational in the competition having lost one game; the defeat to Algeria in the group stages. They have won six and lost only one of their games having netted 8 goals in the tournament so far.
Coach Aliou Cisse and his boys have been winning with a loan goal right from the the knockout phase. They won 1-0 against the Cranes of Uganda in the round of 16, same against Benin in the quarter final. In their Semi final clash against Tunisia, they had to rely on Dylan Bronn’s own goal to advance to the final.
Algeria have all their players available with the exception of right back Youcef Atal who picked an injury in their quarter final clash against Ivory Coast. This ruled the OGC Nice right back out of the competition.
Mehdi Zeffane replaced him on the right and did incredibly well against Nigeria and it is likely he will maintain his position on the right for the Fennecs tonight.
The Senegalese also have no major injury problem in camp. Coach Aliou Cisse has all his players available to select from but dependable centre back Kalidou Koulibaly will be missing in action tonight due to suspension.
Kalidou was yellow carded against Tunisia and that marked his suspension from tonight’s crucial encounter.
The Desert Foxes of Algeria last won the edition in 1990 after achieving a host and win. It remains their only AFCON trophy and will be hoping to claim their second again this time around. The Senegalese will also be anticipating to win their first ever AFCON title. They came very close in 2002 but lost unfortunately to Cameroon in the final.
Referee: Victor Gomez (South Africa) or Bamlak Tessema (Ethiopia)
Time: 1900GMT/ 7:00pm
By: Iddriss Abdul Rahim/Eblaradio.com