In light of Rwanda’s shock win over Cote d’Ivoire in the African Nations Championship opener, Goal reveal our five bold predictions for the tournament
Caf’s African Nations Championship has already got off to a shocking start, as hosts Rwanda dispatched much-fancied Cote d’Ivoire in the tournament opener. The Amavubi secured the victory thanks to a lone goal from Emery Bayisenge to send those in attendence-including president Paul Kagame-into furious celebration.
We feel it’s a sign of things to come, and that the opener was a further reminder of the unpredictable nature of the CHAN.
But what else could happen in the continental showpiece for Africa’s home-based players?
In this feature, we present five bold predictions for the rest of the group stage and the season beyond that, as the continent’s old guard and the best of Africa’s emerging talent take centre stage in the packed arenas of Rwanda:
If the group qualifiers are anything to go by, then we should expect a glut of goals from this year’s African Championship.
Strikers are in fine form and every team will be itching to make their mark on the pitch. With Mozambique breaking records in their 9-1 aggregate win over Seychelles, striker Luis Misquissone is in fine form and we expect him to lead the goal charge at the tournament.
Which other frontmen could step up and steal the show in Rwanda?
Thrilling group stages
The group stages are going to be an exciting prospect for fans and neutrals. The matchups are simply mouth-watering.
The tournament’s first match, Rwanda’s victory over the Cote d’Ivoire, has already produced the goods. The 1-0 victory was a brilliant result for the hosts, and Morocco may now also fancy their chances of beating the Ivorians. Even without the big guns present, the rivalry between these two teams could make this a superb experience for anyone watching.
Groups A and B are certainly the hottest groups, so look out for tantalising matchups in those two, while Nigerian fans will surely be intrigued to see whether their team can be a unified unit or a disjointed collection of talent.
Will Rwanda’s giant-killing in the opener be a sign of things to come?
Most Disappointing Teams
It’s hard to pick a loser of the tournament because the exposure each player gets will be invaluable for their development. However, this unwanted accolade could well go to either Zambia or Zimbabwe.
Both teams boast experience and exciting talent, however, they might find it a struggle to emerge from a group that sees them placed with two powerhouses in Mali and Uganda.
Tipped to Win
Without a doubt, there are many favourites ahead of this tournament and with a large number of teams to choose from.
The Cote d’Ivoire would have originally tipped the scales in their favour before their surprise loss in the opening game. Michel Dussuyer picked an exciting squad and has been brave enough to dip outside the first division, but that bravery might just have cost him.
Nigeria and DR Congo are the nations to look out for; the latter were champions in 2009 andthey might just add another trophy to their cabinet this year. The fact that TP Mazembe recently won the Caf Champions League means that there is a good feeling about the country’s football at the moment, and many of the Congolese squad have a recent record of success.
Will Dussuyer’s ambition cost him?
You can never discount the hosts Rwanda, and although they might not be my favourites, they are sure to put on a show. Home-crowd advantage is sure to play a factor, but the Amavubi are also a strong football side that ought not to be dismissed.
They pack a powerful strike-force and with Jacques Tuyisenge leading the line they are sure to put up a fight. If bright young manager Johnny McKinstry [below] can manage to navigate a way out of the group stages then they could be the competition’s surprise package. The opening victory over Cote d’Ivoire certainly bodes well, but could Rwanda trouble Nigeria, for example, or the Congolese?