After a nine-year Western domination, the trophy goes to North Africa as Algeria claim the 2019 Africa cup of Nations after a fantastic tournament. The desert foxes lifted the continental crown for the second time as Djamel Belmadi’s side need no further validation of their philosophy.

 Headlined by Manchester City’s Riyad Mahrez, the Algerians were always willing to work for the team. This collective-oriented mentality brought out the individual quality in the likes of Baghdad Bounedjah, an old-fashioned lone centre forward who is a horror to play against. The Al Sadd man ran the channels for his team and could drop deep to win the ball or battle defenders in the air, his was a perfect blend up top for Algeria’s swashbuckling style.

Riyad Mahrez with the Africa cup of nations trophy, his fifth of the 2018/19 season. Image Credit: AFP

 Player of the tournament Ismael Bennacer was another who thrived in the hardworking style of the Algerians. The left-footed midfielder didn’t score at the tournament but displayed a tantalising mix of his tenacity and technical ability with 12 dribbles completed and 10 tackles won at the tournament as well as the most assists in the Algeria squad with three.

Ismael Bennacer, Africa Cup of nations 2019 player of the tournament. Image Credit: Getty Images 

Senegal were without Kalidou Koulibaly’s top-class defending and distribution from the back and it crippled their game in the showpiece final. The West Africans had displayed a tenacity at AFCON 2019 but could not rally from conceding the early goal.

Betway Nigeria

 I personally feel sorry for coach Aliou Cisse, who had experienced heartache in the 2002 final as captain of Senegal. He brought his staff and players together in a huddle shortly after the final whistle for a passionate-looking rousing speech. Alongside Liverpool’s Sadio Mané,that team is filled with so much talent and potential that you have suspect they’ll remain one of Africa’s top dogs for a while.

Aliou Cisse cheering up Salif Sane after the final defeat. Image Credit: Getty Images 

 Nigeria‘s Odion Ighalo walks home with the golden boot award for the highest goalscorer in the competition with five goals. With the decision to reverse his retirement from the national team a likelihood at this point in time.

 AFCON 2019 has provided a new dawn for several nations as well as players. Madagascar shocked many to reach the quarterfinals in their first AFCON appearance. The aforementioned Bennacer and Bounedjah would be attracting massive interest from top clubs, but players like Senegal’s Krepin Diatta have also highlighted the vast array of African-born talent.

 It does require much more investment into grassroots development, however there is so much football talent within these shores.


Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin

Chief Editor of the Football Castle, Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin is a football junkie and writer of the beautiful game.

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