Egypt’s loss to South Africa in the Africa Cup Of Nations shocked the whole continent and the World beyond. The Pharaoh’s were one of the 3 teams to finish the group stages with a clean record. Together with Morocco and Algeria, the North Africans were unbeaten in the entire group stage and conceded no goals in the process.
Ironically, the lone goal that the hosts’ conceded was enough to knock them out a tournament that they have won a record 7 times. It brings into sharp focus an emerging underdog winning theme at this year’s Competition. South Africa qualified to the round of 16 via the proverbial ‘backdoor’.
With only one win from the group Stages and with a goal difference of -1, Stuart Baxter’s side made it to the second round on the basis of being one of the best 3rd placed teams. To put it into perspective, Kenya’s Harambee Stars were a 0-0 result away against Senegal to earning qualification!
Just a day prior to Bafana Bafana’s unexpected victory, another underdog had eliminated tournament favorite. Benin, who also finished 3rd in their group beat Morocco on penalties. Hakim Ziyech missed a spot-kick in the last minute of normal time for Morocco to send the match into extra time.
Benin, with a man down following Khaled Adenon second yellow card in the first half of extra time, showed very good defensive discipline and fully deserved their win. Interestingly, they are tey to win a single match during the normal time but were the first team to book a quarter-final slot!
Nigeria’s win over Cameroon was an evenly balanced affair in terms of the quality in both teams and this stature in African Football. However, against the defending Champions, Nigeria was somewhat the less favored for the win.
Could we see an underdog win the 32nd edition of the Africa Cup Of Nations?