AFCON 2019: Baxter Quits As South Africa Coach After Flop

South Africa’s coach Stuart Baxter attends a press conference at the Cairo International stadium in the capital, on July 5, 2019, on the eve of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) top 16 match between Egypt and South Africa. PHOTO: OZAN KOSE / AFP

England-born Stuart Baxter quit on Friday as South Africa coach after a disappointing Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) campaign in Egypt during June and July.  

“I feel that I cannot continue to work with the required professionalism and passion as I have done,” the 65-year-old told a press conference at a Johannesburg sports club.

Baxter was widely unpopular with the South African public, while the media welcomed his decision to leave a job reportedly worth 490,000 rand ($33,500/30,000 euros) a month.

Reacting recently to constant criticism, Baxter said there were “54 million national coaches in South Africa”, a reference to the 58.7 million population of the country.

Although Bafana Bafana (The Boys) stunned Cup of Nations hosts Egypt in the round of 16, they made a timid exit against Nigeria in the quarter-finals.

They had been even more unimpressive at the group stage, losing to the Ivory Coast and Morocco and struggling to overcome minnows Namibia.

Previously, Baxter had flopped in an 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign, losing four of five matches as South Africa finished bottom of a group won by Senegal.

The Wolverhampton-born coach had a first stint coaching South Africa with little success a decade ago, failing to take the country to the 2006 World Cup.

He is the ninth coach to quit or be fired since the Cup of Nations ended on July 19 with Algeria defeating Senegal in the final.

Former Dutch star Clarence Seedorf was the highest-profile casualty with defending champions Cameroon sacking him following a last-16 loss to Nigeria.

Hosts Egypt fired Mexican Javier Aguirre, Namibia dumped Ricardo Mannetti, Guinea ditched Belgian Paul Put and Tanzania dropped Nigerian Emmanuel Amunike after poor campaigns.

French coaches Herve Renard and Sebastien Desabre left Morocco and Uganda respectively and Sunday Chidzambwa quit Zimbabwe.

Renard, the most high profile coach in Africa and the only one to guide two countries to the Cup of Nations title, has been hired by Saudi Arabia.

Desabre, who took Uganda to the knockout phase for the first time since 1978, moved to Egyptian club Pyramids, who will debut in the second-tier CAF Confederation Cup next season.

AFP

AFCON 2019 Champions Algeria To Get $4.5m

 

Algeria will earn $4.5 million dollars for emerging champions of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).

Baghdad Bounedjah scored the winner in the second minute as the desert foxes edged the Terranga Lions of Senegal 1-nil to claim their second AFCON title after 29 years.

READ ALSO: Ighalo Joins Mikel, Retires From Super Eagles

Runners up, Senegal will get $2 million dollars while the Super Eagles of Nigeria who finished in third place will receive $1.5 million dollars.

Algeria midfielder Ismael Bennacer was named player of the tournament and young best player of the tournament while Algeria goalkeeper, Adrais Mbolhi was named the best goalkeeper of the tournament.

 

AFCON 2019: We Want To Write Our Own History, Says Algeria Coach

Algeria’s coach Djamel Belmadi (C) celebrates with his players following the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) Semi-final football match between Algeria and Nigeria at the Cairo International stadium in Cairo on July 14, 2019. PHOTO: JAVIER SORIANO / AFP

Algeria coach Djamel Belmadi said his players are “two very difficult steps” away from writing history as they prepare to face Nigeria in Sunday’s Africa Cup of Nations semi-finals.

The Desert Foxes are through to the last four of the tournament for the first time since 2010 and have looked the strongest side in Egypt, having defeated title favourites Senegal in the group phase.

Following an early exit in Gabon in 2017 and a dreadful World Cup qualifying campaign, Belmadi has revived Algerian fortunes as they bid to end a 29-year wait for a second continental crown.

“The one that we won was in 1990, a long time ago when it was at home. We’ve never won since. This is away from home, it’s more difficult of course,” said Belmadi.

Algeria beat Nigeria twice, including 1-0 in the final, to lift the trophy in Algiers in 1990 to follow on from the likes of Lakhdar Belloumi and Salah Assad, who helped put the country on the footballing map a few years earlier.

“Those players mentioned are great players, they made history for our football. They played at the World Cup in 1982 and 1986 and some great games, but even those players didn’t win it in 1990. They were different players,” recalled Belmadi.

“This is our target, we want to write our history and the players want to write their history as well. It’s not far — two more steps, but two very difficult steps to this great achievement. We will try our best.”

AFP

AFCON 2019: Algeria Deserved Semi-Final Win, Says Rohr

FILE PHOTO: Nigeria’s coach Gernot Rohr gestures as he speaks during a press conference at the Yessentuki Arena, in Yessentuki, in southern Russia, on June 13, 2018. PHOTO: PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP

 

Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr said Algeria were worthy winners after Riyad Mahrez’s last-gasp free-kick sent his team through to a first Africa Cup of Nations final in 29 years.

Manchester City winger Mahrez fired in from 20 yards with the last kick of the game in Cairo to clinch a 2-1 victory after Nigeria forward Odion Ighalo had canceled out a first-half own goal by William Troost-Ekong.

“It was a big fight until the last minute. Algeria did better in the first half than us but we came back in the second half and we conceded this goal in the last minute,” said Rohr.

READ ALSO: Algeria Defeat Nigeria To Enter AFCON Finals

“I think the players wanted to go to extra time and believed Algeria would be tired and they could win in it extra time.”

“I have to congratulate the players for a big fight against this very good team. They won it in the last minute and they deserved it,” he added.

Rohr again lauded the resilience of his team, which bounced back strongly to a shock loss to Madagascar by eliminating holders Cameroon and beating South Africa, but they had no time to respond to a stroke of genius from Mahrez.

“It was a wonderful match, but we lost it so we are not happy. We scored an own goal which was unlucky but we came back like throughout the tournament when there was something difficult against us,” he said.

“A wonderful free-kick made the difference.”

AFP

Super Eagles Set For Algeria Clash In AFCON Semi-Final

(file) Nigeria’s players take part in a training session at the Kaliningrad Stadium.  OZAN KOSE / AFP

 

The Super Eagles of Nigeria and the Desert Foxes of Algeria will clash today in a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations semi-final encounter at the Cairo international stadium in Egypt.

Three-time champions Nigeria are looking for their fourth title since winning their first on home soil at the expense of Algeria in 1980, while the Algerians are looking for their second crown since winning on home soil at the expense of Nigeria in 1990.

The Super Eagles dashed the hopes of Algerian players in 2017 after stopping them from qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, as they bashed the Foxes 3-1 in Uyo and tied the second leg in Constantine 1-1 before FIFA awarded the match to Algeria following the ineligible defender Abdullahi Shehu fielded by the Eagles.

READ ALSO: Neymar Declares Himself Fit, Posts Mischievous Barcelona Video

Nigeria have been dogged in their approach, keeping their feet on the ground, cautious but able to smell opportunities to strike and able to swing games in their favour even towards the end. This strategy worked for Guinea, Cup holders Cameroon, South Africa, and Burundi.

Coach Gernot Rohr says defeat by Madagascar has rudely awakened his boys to the approach they must adopt to win each game, by not under-rating any team.

On the other hand, Algeria Coach Djamel Belmadi, stated it firmly on Saturday that his team are aiming for the trophy by paying the Super Eagles back after stopping them from reaching the 2018 World Cup.

AFCON 2019: Super Eagles Need A More Vocal, Active Coach – Odegbami

 

Former Green Eagles Captain, Segun Odegbami, has faulted the performance of Gernot Rohr as the Super Eagles coach, noting that he is ‘too relaxed’.

Odegbami disclosed this during an interview on Channels Television breakfast programme. He added that Nigerian players need someone who they can hear his voice encouraging and directing them while playing on the field.

READ ALSO: Super Eagles Drop Three Spots In Latest FIFA Ranking

“If I was in charge of Nigeria football, Gernot Rohr would have been on his way home. I’m sorry that is a bit harsh, but you could see how he selected players, particularly in that match against Madagascar. We could have been out of this competition now, because of his selection of players for that match.

“See coaches like Jurgen Klopp, Jose Mourinho, they are the 12th player. They are by the side of the field, they are directing their players. They are shouting on referees, they are doing things. That is the sort of thing Nigerian players need.

“Nigerian players don’t want somebody who will just sit quietly and not say a word. They won’t hear his voice. You won’t help them with difficulty.

“Our nature is to be loud, to be compelled and driven to the wall. Our nature is not to just relax,” he said.

Madagascar football team weeks ago defeated Super Eagles of Nigeria with a 2-0 win to clinch a place in the last 16.

The defeat discouraged many Nigerian football fans even as that was the first appearance of Madagascar football team in Africa Cup of Nations.

Lalaina Nomenjanahary gave Madagascar a 12th-minute lead after pouncing on ponderous defending, jolting a side ranked 63 places above them in the world.

The Super Eagles, however, bounced back on Sunday as they eliminated defending Africa Cup of Nations champions Cameroon after a thrilling 3-2 victory.

AFCON Debutants Madagascar Beat DR Congo To Keep Dream Run Alive

Madagascar’s players celebrate their win during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) Round of 16 football match between Madagascar and DR Congo at the Alexandria Stadium in the Egyptian city on July 7, 2019. Giuseppe CACACE / AFP

 

Africa Cup of Nations debutants Madagascar kept their remarkable run going on Sunday with a penalty shootout victory over the Democratic Republic of Congo after a 2-2 draw to secure a place in the quarter-finals.

Ibrahim Amada’s wonder strike put Madagascar ahead just nine minutes in at Alexandria Stadium but DR Congo responded swiftly as China-based forward Cedric Bakambu headed home his third goal in two matches.

Madagascar captain Faneva Andriatsima nodded the Indian Ocean islanders back ahead with a quarter-hour remaining only for Chancel Mbemba to haul DR Congo level at a corner in the final minute.

Marcel Tisserand and Yannick Bolasie both blazed over for DR Congo in the shootout as Madagascar prevailed 4-2 with their reward a meeting with four-time winners Ghana or 2004 champions Tunisia for a place in the semi-finals.

“I want to congratulate my players, particularly after we had to deal with that equaliser right in the last minute of normal time,” said Madagascar coach Nicolas Dupuis.

“We weren’t quite as good as we were against Nigeria. We lacked a bit of juice but our opponents created us a lot of problems for us.”

He added: “I think 25 million will be partying at home. We want to go as far as possible and enjoy it.”

Marco Ilaimaharitra’s suspension forced Dupuis to alter his line-up for the first time in the tournament with Rayan Raveloson deputising in midfield for a team that shocked Nigeria 2-0 to advance as group winners.

Britt Assombalonga replaced the injured Jonathan Bolingi in the lone change to the DR Congo side that trounced Zimbabwe 4-0, with captain Youssouf Mulumbu describing their qualification as a “miracle” following two opening losses.

Amada rocket

Madagascan President Andry Rajoelina chartered a 480-seater plane to take fans to Egypt, and the travelling support were soon rejoicing when Amada blasted a sensational 25-yard strike that tailed away from Ley Matampi and flew in off the post.

The jubilant celebrations were halted midway through the first half though when Bakambu slipped free of the Madagascar centre-backs to glance in Glody Ngonda’s bending cross.

Mbemba smashed over as another left-wing cross found the Malagasy defence in trouble, but this was a far more balanced contest than the last meeting — a 6-1 triumph for DR Congo in a 2017 Cup of Nations qualifier.

That hiding was the darkest day in Malagasy football history but they have undergone a dramatic transformation, and nearly regained the lead 10 minutes after the break when Jerome Mombris embarked on a driving run, his shot spilled by Matampi with Charles Andriamahitsinoro agonisingly hitting the rebound wide.

A battling Madagascar eventually regained the lead against a nation ranked 59 places above them when Andriatsima flung himself at a Romain Metanire cross following a superb long-busting run from the right-back.

Bolasie’s tumble in the area provoked furious protests from DR Congo, with VAR not in use until the next round, but the Leopards conjured up another escape act in the 90th minute as an unmarked Mbemba headed in a corner to force extra time.

Madagascar goalkeeper Melvin Adrien kept his team level in extra time with a string of vital saves, the best an instinctive one-handed stop to repel another Mbemba header, while some desperate defending allowed the ‘Barea’ to take it to a shootout and add a further chapter to their Egyptian fairytale.

AFP

Mane Fires Senegal Past Uganda To AFCON Quarter-Finals

Senegal’s forward Sadio Mane shoots a penalty kick during the match between Uganda and Senegal at the Cairo International Stadium in the Egyptian capital on July 5, 2019. JAVIER SORIANO / AFP

 

Sadio Mane became the leading scorer in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations Friday when he scored the goal that gave Senegal a 1-0 win over Uganda in a feisty last-16 clash.

The Liverpool star struck on 15 minutes with a close-range shot after a passing move carved open the Ugandan defence in Cairo.

Mane later missed a penalty — the second time he has fluffed a spot-kick in as many matches — but his three-goal tally from three matches moved him ahead of 11 scorers with two each.

In the quarter-finals, Senegal will face fellow west Africans Benin, who stunned Morocco earlier, winning a penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw following extra time.

A fiery start at the Cairo International Stadium to the second last-16 match saw two Ugandans and one Senegalese yellow-carded within 10 minutes of the kick-off.

Uganda captain and goalkeeper Denis Onyango was first to be booked after racing off his line and fouling Ismaila Sarr, who needed lengthy treatment.

Giant Uganda forward Emmanuel Okwi was the next offender with his elbow brushing the face of Senegal centre-back and captain Cheikhou Kouyate.

Senegal midfielder Papa Ndiaye then went into the book of the referee for deliberately pushing a Ugandan so hard he tumbled off the pitch.

As tempers cooled, Senegal scored through Mane, who shared the Premier League Golden Boot last season with Liverpool team-mate Mohamed Salah and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Arsenal.

A Ugandan pass was intercepted and two quick, slick passes sent Mane clear to fire left-footed past Onyango, one of the top goalkeepers in Africa.

Blatant foul

On 18 minutes, Uganda lost centre-back Hassan Wasswa after he injured his left hamstring and Timothy Awany took his place.

Midfielder Khalid Aucho became the third Ugandan to be yellow-carded, for a blatant foul, and Okwi was lucky to escape a second caution and a red card later in the half.

There were more cards than goal attempts on target in the opening 45 minutes, which ended with Senegal comfortably retaining a one-goal advantage.

The match not only lacked goalmouth excitement, but also atmosphere with a crowd of just a few thousand dotted around the 75,000 stadium, where the final will be played on July 19.

Scorching heat, costly tickets and a lack of interest by Egyptians in teams other than their own Pharaohs are some of the reasons for the poor attendances.

Senegal had a great chance to double their lead when Mane was fouled by Onyango, but the Liverpool star failed to convert the penalty, a fate he also suffered against Kenya.

He aimed for the right corner, but Onyango guessed correctly and made a brilliant two-hand save to keep the Cranes in the match.

Senegal centre-back and Napoli star Kalidou Koulibaly was the fifth player to be booked as an intensely physical encounter entered the final quarter.

As free-kicks were continually conceded, Uganda had several opportunities to equalise and came close on 80 minutes when goalkeeper Alfred Gomis pushed away an Allan Kateregga effort.

AFP

AFCON: South Africa’s Coach Wants To Cause ‘National Disaster’ For Egypt

South Africa’s coach Stuart Baxter attends a press conference at the Cairo International stadium in the capital, on July 5, 2019, on the eve of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) top 16 match between Egypt and South Africa. OZAN KOSE / AFP

 

South Africa boss Stuart Baxter believes it would be a “national disaster” for Egypt if his team were to beat the Africa Cup of Nations hosts in Saturday’s last-16 meeting in Cairo.

Bafana Bafana scored just once in an unimpressive group stage campaign that featured a 1-0 win over Namibia and defeats to Cote d’Ivoire and Morocco by the same scoreline.

The 1996 champions sneaked through in the final qualifying spot reserved for the four best third-place sides, but Baxter is quietly confident the occasion of playing Mohamed Salah’s Egypt in front a partisan 75,000 crowd will energise his players.

“The fact that we’re playing against the home nation is inspiring,” Baxter told reporters on Friday.

“Knowing the Egyptian people, knowing their passion for football, knowing their expectations are very high, knowing that they have some great players, I believe that the pressure would be more on them because for them it would be a national disaster if South Africa beat them, for us it would very disappointing.”

He added: “We will go into the game quietly believing that we can cause an upset, but knowing that we will have to play very, very well because this is a good Egyptian team and they will have massive support.

“Maybe one of the jobs that we have to do is to try to quiet the crowd by being a tougher opponent than people think.”

Egypt eased into the knockout stages with three wins from three but have yet to hit top gear in their quest for a record-extending eighth Cup of Nations title.

Their record at home in the competition is formidable with three triumphs in four editions as hosts, but Baxter feels South Africa can use the Egyptian support in their favour.

“It’s our job to bring maybe some frustration … if we can do that and the crowd become a little bit impatient, the players will feel that on the field. We know that the home nation can be good thing, but that can be also a big pressure.”

AFP

Benin Beat Morocco, Advance To AFCON Quarter Final

 

Benin have beaten Morocco on penalties in the Africa Cup of Nations last 16 to advance to the Quarter Final of the tournament. 

Benin stunned the AFCON title contenders on penalties to reach the quarter-finals for the first time after a 1-1 draw in Cairo on Friday.

READ ALSO: Nigeria Fired Up By Madagascar Hurt, Says Troost-Ekong

Moise Adilehou put Benin ahead early in the second half before Youssef En-Nesyri equalised, but Hakim Ziyech blew the chance to seal the victory for Morocco by striking the post with a 96th-minute penalty.

Sofiane Boufal and En-Nesyri both missed in the shootout as Benin, who reached the last 16 on the back of three draws, triumphed 4-1 on spot-kicks.

Salah Sends Egypt Into Cup Of Nations Last 16

 

Mohamed Salah scored his first goal of the Africa Cup of Nations as hosts Egypt secured a place in the last 16 on Wednesday with a 2-0 win over the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Ahmed Elmohamady prodded Egypt ahead on 25 minutes after a wicked Salah cross and the Liverpool star slammed in a second shortly before half-time to spark frenzied celebrations at a packed Cairo International Stadium.

Record seven-time champions Egypt rode their luck at times as DR Congo twice struck the crossbar in the first half but the Group A leaders held firm to join Nigeria as the first teams through to the knockout phase.

Egypt overcame the distraction of Amr Warda being banished from the squad earlier in the day over mounting sexual harassment allegations. The claims surfaced earlier this week on social media platforms. Multiple women posted screenshots and testimonies of Warda’s alleged lewd comments.

Coach Javier Aguirre fielded the same side that defeated Zimbabwe 1-0, with centre-back Ahmed Hegazy sporting a mask after breaking his nose in the opening game of the tournament.

Salah was guilty of missing a hatful of chances in the curtain-raiser and this season’s Premier League joint top scorer again threatened inside five minutes here when an interception broke his way only for the Egyptian to skew wide under pressure.

After four days of small crowds, a capacity 75,000 crowd again turned out to cheer on the hosts in the capital, but they were nearly silenced when Marcel Tisserand slammed against the bar at a corner.

DR Congo came to Egypt as one of the most unpredictable qualifiers having finished third in 2015 only to make a timid quarter-final exit two years ago, and they fell behind for the second straight game as Elmohamady forced home after the ball fell kindly to him following an aerial challenge with Christian Luyindama.

Having created the opener with his vicious right-wing cross, Salah then stung the palms of Ley Matampi with a powerful 25-yard free-kick.

Egypt would be rescued by the woodwork once more though when a deep cross was nodded back across goal by Bokadi Bope before Jonathan Bolingi’s looping header bounced back off the bar.

With his side riding their luck, Salah rose to the occasion and settled Egyptian nerves two minutes before half-time with a typically brilliant finish.

Played into space down the right by Mahmoud ‘Trezeguet’ Hassan, Salah skipped inside Tisserand and ripped a crisp low drive inside Matampi’s near post to cue a volcanic eruption from the masses of delirious Egyptians supporters.

Mohamed El Shenawy produced an excellent sprawling second-half save to claw out a Jacques Maghoma header, but despite an improvement on a horror first outing, DR Congo now know they must beat Zimbabwe in their final game in order to possibly advance as one of the four best third-place finishers.

AFP

Tunisia First Cup Of Nations Top Seeds Not To Win

 

Tunisia became the first 2019 Africa Cup of Nations top seeds not to win their opening match when Djalma Campos cancelled out a Youssef Msakni goal and earned Angola a 1-1 Group E draw on Monday.

Hosts Egypt, Nigeria, Morocco and Senegal won their first matches of the 24-team tournament and the other top seeds, Cameroon, debut Tuesday against Guinea-Bissau.

Tunisia led when Msakni blasted a penalty into the net on 34 minutes only for Campos to punish a blunder by goalkeeper Farouk Ben Mustapha in the 73rd minute.

It was the second time Angola and Tunisia met at the biennial African football showpiece and the second time they drew after a goalless deadlock in Ghana 11 years ago.

The stalemate offered former runners-up Mali or newcomers Mauritania a chance to lead Group E later Monday by winning the second match in a double-header at the Suez Army Stadium.

“Drawing was not satisfactory for us — we wanted to win our first match,” said substitute Ferjani Sassi, who won a lengthy fitness battle to be ready for the tournament.

“We were winning and had chances to add more goals, but did not take them. Tunisia were better than Angola but because of poor defending we conceded an equaliser.”

Tunisia led at half-time after a cagey first half at the 27,000-capacity venue, one of six being used for the competition.

Naim Sliti was floored inside the box by Salomao Paizo and the Ethiopian referee pointed to the spot before yellow-carding goalkeeper Tony Cabaca for dissent.

Msakni took a perfect penalty, striking the ball with power and accuracy over the Angolan shot-stopper.

The goal gave a small but enthusiastic crowd something to cheer after a pedestrian opening half in which the teams had only one goal attempt each on target.

Geraldo, a surprise absentee from the Angolan starting line-up, was introduced by Serbian coach Srdjan Vasiljevic for the second half in place of Stelvio da Cruz.

A second substitution made during half-time saw Gelson Dala, who scored three of the nine goals that took Angola to the finals, replacing Wilson Eduardo.

Tunisia coach and former France star Alain Giresse waited until midway through the second half to make his initial change, sending on Sassi for Ghaylen Chaalali.

Angola levelled thanks to a blunder from Tunisia goalkeeper Ben Mustapha, who spilled a weak Mateus da Costa shot and Campos tapped in the rebound.

Wahbi Khazri came close to putting the north Africans ahead again with seven minutes remaining as his shot eluded Cabaca but trickled just wide of the far post.

Msakni was the next Tunisian to try and snatch a late winning goal, unleashing a low shot from just outside the box that Cabaca held at the second attempt.

AFP