Typical of every major tournament, there were some big-name disappointments at AFCON 2019, as a number of stars and nations failed to justify their reputations. Futaa takes a quick look back...
Morocco and Hakim Ziyech
The Atlas Lions took a flight to Egypt as one of the undisputed favourites to lift Africa’s biggest ever trophy.
But all did not go quite well...
A tournament Ziyech wants to forget.
The Moroccans began the group phase with a trio of 1-0 wins over Namibia, South Africa and the Ivory Coast but nobody would imagine what would befall them in the last 16 game. Ajax Amsterdam’s Ziyech’s status as an icon in his home country meant fans pinned their hopes on him to drive Morocco to glory. The 22-year-old did not sparkle at all in Egypt, including a penalty miss in injury time against Benin.
Harve Renard’s side were sent home with a 4-1 penalty shoot-out defeat to Benin, after the game ended 1-1 in 120 minutes.
“To be eliminated in the round of 16, for Morocco, it is a failure. And I have to assume that. You can shoot me, it’s like that,” said Renard.
The tournament's defending champions Cameroon failed rather dismally to defend their title. There was never any real hint of class in the Indomitable Lions’ Group phase efforts. Clarence Seedorf’s side opened with a 2-0 win over Guinea-Bissau, and that was followed by two goalless draws against Ghana and Benin.
Cameroon two years ago in Gabon.
The AFCON 2019 road was cut short by Nigeria in a five goal thriller in the last 16 game. The big flop later led to Seedorf losing his job.
Mohamed Salah and Egypt
Fresh from scoring 27 goals and making 13 assists for Liverpool last season, Salah looked ready to terrorize opposition defences in his homeland. Though the Egytian did score twice in the group stages against Zimbabwe and Uganda respectively, but he could not deliver when his nation needed him the most against South Africa in the last 16 loss. Bafana Bafana spoilt the party of 75 000 fans at the Cairo International stadium with a 1-0 win - while also breaking the hearts of millions more Egyptians.
The seven-time champions and hot-hosts favourites were out of the tournament in the first match of the knockout phase. Mexican coach Javier Aguirre is now without a job.
Carnage in Cairo
Pepe’s 22 goals and 11 assists for Lille in the last Ligue 1 season duly made him a big transfer targeted by the likes of Manchester United and Arsenal. The winger was tipped to be the star of the AFCON 2019 showpiece and a player many scouts booked Egytian flights and hotels for.
Unfortunately, the 24-year-old was unable to find a single goal in Egypt, though he showed glimpses of his class with two free-kicks against SA that were stopped by the brilliance of Ronwen Williams.
Pepe showed a bit of what he can do against South Africa.
Blessed with a wealth of world class talent, Pepe’s nation were sent home in the quarter-finals after a 4-3 loss on penalties to Algeria after the match ended 1-1.
Meanwhile, the AFCON 2019 final is a few hours away. Senegal take on Algeria to battle for the big, gold African trophy.