The stars have lit the pyramids of Egypt and Africa’s top national teams have now all taken to the field at least once at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2019 tournament.
After the first round of games, we assess the chances of each of the 24 teams at this year’s continental tourney.
In this ranking, we revisit our pre-tournament supremacy rankings and collate that against a multiplicity of factors ranging from squad strength, difficulty of matches, performance in the first round among others.
Here are the supremacy rankings:
[AFCON 2019 supremacy rankings will be revised after every round of games]
1. Senegal [up +1]
Senegal put in one of the strongest all-round performance in the first round. The 2-0 defeat of Tanzania saw the Lions of Teranga display power, organisation, solidity and pace. Their pressing hurried Tanzanians off the ball and they relentlessly created chances. All with Liverpool star Sadio Mane missing.
2. Egypt [down -1]
While the hosts threatened to light up the tourney’s opening game, the Pharaohs ended up being upstaged by a willing effort by Zimbabwe. A deserved 1-0 win shows there is still room for improvement. However, home crowd support as well as the talents of Mohamed Salah still give Egypt an advantage over many others.
3. Ivory Coast [+4]
Of all the strong teams in the tournament, Ivory Coast faced the sternest test in round one, managing to win against a good South Africa side. Nicolas Pepe showed why he could be the star of the tournament.
4. Morocco [+5]
In Herve Renard, the Atlas Lions have the best manager for the tournament, considering he has won two AFCON tournaments before. The team however struggled to break down a resolute Namibia and needed an own goal from the Brave Warriors to emerge with a win. If Renard is to complete a hat-trick of AFCON crowns, his team will need to gain some momentum.
5. Cameroon [+3]
The defending champions were in control of their 2-0 win against Guinea-Bissau, but Clarence Seedorf’s side will have to navigate tougher challenges ahead if they are to retain their crown.
6. Algeria [-1]
Riyadh Mahrez and company did not need to get out of second gear in their 2-0 defeat of Kenya, but will need a more ruthless hand against better teams.
7. Nigeria [-3]
Needed a late Odion Ighalo goal to see off a well organised Burundi side. The Super Eagles failed to really soar but showed glimpses that this side, which has a decent recent record at AFCON, can still pose a credible challenge.
8. Ghana [-2]
Pegged back by Benin, there’s a lack of adequate game match experience to match the quality of the likes of the Ayew brothers (Jordan and Andre), Atletico Madrid’s Thomas Partey and Christian Atsu. Maybe if Asamoah Gyan wasn’t so fussy…
9. Mali [+2]
Biggest winners in the first round with a 4-1 win over Mauritania, the Eagles could upset the big boys. Their ranking could continue rising as the tournament rolls on.
10. Uganda [+5]
An impressive win over Democratic Republic of Congo gave East Africa hope that its teams could perform well. But the hope was misplaced for the mean time, although the Cranes will also have to rely on more than set-pieces to break down defences.
11. South Africa [+1]
Put up a good fight against a stronger Ivory Coast side, leaving them with much to do in a tough group that also includes Morocco.
12. Tunisia [-9]
Should be higher in this list, and should have won their game against Angola, but failed to take charge of the game and ended up gifting an equaliser to the Antelopes. In Youcef Msakni, the Carthage Eagles have one of the most creative players in the tournament but failing to capitalise on chances is a recipe for failure.
13. Benin [+3]
Stunned Ghana by taking an early lead, then rallied to equalise after the Black Stars had seemed to be on a path to dominace. Even with a red card being shown to Ghana, Benin’s performance deserved credit.
14. Guinea [-1]
15. DRC [-5]
Initially termed as favourites for the tournament, but a 2-0 loss to Uganda means it is do or die against Egypt in the next round.
16. Angola [+7]
17. Zimbabwe [+4]
Lacked the quality to eventually equalise against Egypt, but put in a hearted performance against the hosts Egypt, and didn’t cower with nerves in front of a partisan crowd.
18. Burundi [+6]
Impressive despite failing to hold on against Nigeria.
19. Namibia [-1]
20. Tanzania [=]
21. Guinea Bissau [+1]
22. Kenya [-7]
Dour performance in the first game, much needed change if they are to get anything out of their next game.