By Boris Esono Nwenfor
The 2019 edition of the Africa cup of Nations has been won by the Desert Foxes of Algeria, a second crown in their history. Algeria defeated the Teranga lions of Senegal by a goal to nil thanks to a second minute strike from Baghdad Bounedjah, in the final of the AFCON played at the Cairo International stadium July 19, 2019.
Chances in the game were few and far between an ill-tempered affair as Algeria withstood almost constant pressure and also saw a Senegal penalty awarded overturned by the Video Assistant Referee, VAR.
Algeria’s only victory until now in the competition was back in 1990. Some 29 years to this day. Before reaching the final, the team defeated Nigeria 2-1 after outsmarting Ivory Coast in the quarter finals.
For Senegal, the wait is still on for their maiden title. The team can however take solace to having reached the final but just fell short of clinching it. Congratulations have been extended to their coach Aliou Cisse for having guided the team to such a level.
Algeria succeeds Cameroon as the best team in Africa with Cameroon eliminated in the round of 16. Their next challenge will be that of defending the trophy during the AFCON 2021 that will be hosted by Cameron.
For star forward Riyad Mahrez, this victory in the AFCON goes to add to his numerous titles won for his club side Manchester City in England. The player has so far won five titles to close the football season.
Algeria and Senegal’s meeting in the final created a huge milestone for local coaches. Two local coaches were competition for the Holy Grail of African football, with one joining the prestigious list of African coaches to have won the competition.
After 32 editions of the competition, it was only the fifth time two African coaches have met at the AFCON finals. Just four times before the final was an All African affair. In 1962 hosts Ethiopia coached by legend Yidnekatchew Tessema won their first (and only to date) AFCON title, defeating Egypt 4-2 in the final. The Pharaohs were then coached by the duet of Mohamed El Guindy and Hanafy Bastan.
Ghana won the 1965 edition, beating hosts Tunisia 3-2. The Black Stars coach Charles Gyamfi had his second successive AFCON glory then, defeating Tunisian counterpart Mokhtar Ben Nacef. Another Ghanaian, Fred Ousam-Duodu led the Black stars to the 1978 title at home, defeating Uganda led by local legend Pete Okee 2-0 in the final.
And in 1998, Egyptian Mahmoud El Gohary became the first man to win AFCON as a player (1959) and coach. He guided the Pharaohs to their fourth title in Burkina Faso, defeating South Africa, coached by local icon Jomo Sono 2-0 in the final.
Overall, 11 local coaches had won 15 AFCON titles in the previous 31 editions. Ghana’s Gyamfi and Egypt’s Hassan Shehata had each won record three titles, Nigerian Stephen Keshi won it in 2013. Djamel Belmadi now joins the illustrious Africans to have won the award.