Cote D’Ivoire – The first of three games to be played by each of the 24 teams is now in the books and the contours of the competition are beginning to take shape. The 12 games played this far registered six victories and six draws and 27 goals. Two years ago in Cameroon there were ten victories and two draws at this point of the competition and just twelve goals.
Host country Cote D’Ivoire kicked off the competition with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Guinea Bissau. No surprises here as the Elephants ranked 49 with the advantage of playing at home outplayed the Djurtus of Guinea Bissau ranked 103 on FIFA.
Current African Nations Cup Champion, the Teranga Lions of Senegal as expected outperformed the Scorpions of the Gambia beating them 3-0. The defending champions are looking forward to repeating the 2022 feat in Cameroon and retain the trophy and they are tipped as favorites.
In Group D, the Stallions of Burkina Faso barely scraped a victory over the Lions of Chinguetti of Mauritania when substitute Traore scored from the penalty spot in the waning moments of the game.
FIFA ranked best African and CAF’s current African team of the year the Atlas Lions of Morocco proved their prowess as they dominated the Taifa Stars of Tanzania and trounced them by 3-0. Coach Wali Regragui’s team following their brilliant feat at the 2022 World Cup hope to correct their mistakes and take home the African Nations Cup. They are off to a brilliant start.
The three surprising victories came from the Blue Sharks of Cabo Verde outclassing the Black Stars of Ghana 2-1, the Eagles of Mali soaring over the Bafana Bafana of South Africa defeating them 2-0 and the Brave warriors of Namibia stunning the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia in a 1-0 victory.
More drama came with the number of games that ended in a draw with the first being the Nzalang Nacional of Equatorial Guinea clipping the wings of the Super Eagles of Nigeria to a 1-1 tie; another tournament favorite the Pharaohs of Egypt, runners up at the last AFCON came from behind to draw 2-2 with the Mambas of Mozambique; the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon also came from behind to stitch a 1-1 tie with the Syli National of Guinea. The Guinean side opened scores at the 10th minute and lost their captain through a red card and yet with ten men successfully prevented the Cameroonian team from exploiting their numerical supremacy.
Les Fennecs of Algeria played a 1-1 tie with the Palancras Negras of Angola who have just one foreign based player. The Leopards of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Chipolopolo aka Copper Bullets of Zambia played to one all draw.
More surprises on the way as the competition continues.