Soccer-Africa’s four superstars fail to ignite Cup of Nations


  • Football
  • Saturday, 22 Jan 2022

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Africa Cup of Nations - Group D - Egypt v Sudan - Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo, Yaounde, Cameroon - January 19, 2022 Egypt's Mohamed Salah in action REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany/File Photo

(Reuters) - Africa’s four top players failed to make a mark at the Africa Cup of Nations finals but the start of the knockout rounds on Sunday offers a chance at least for Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah to deliver on their home continent.

The Liverpool duo are part of a quartet who have finished in the top three for the past four African Footballer of the Year awards, establishing themselves as the continent’s best and who were the main attractions at the finals in Cameroon.

The other players are Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, sent back to London for health reasons, and Manchester City winger Riyad Mahrez, the captain of holders Algeria who crashed out in a dramatic fall from grace.

Senegal’s Mane and Egypt skipper Salah scored in the group stage as their countries advanced, but their own form has been underwhelming, disappointing fans who have come to watch them.

Mane netted with a penalty in stoppage time at the end of their opening Group B game for a disputed win over Zimbabwe and has played two more full matches but without any impact.

Admittedly, Senegal have been best by COVID-19 problems and only had goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, who won a FIFA award on Monday, and captain Kalidou Koulibaly back for their last group game against Malawi.

But against the Cape Verde Islands in the last 16 on Tuesday, Mane has the opportunity to deliver on expectations in a potentially one-sided encounter.

DESPERATE SALAH

Salah will need to step up his performance if Egypt are to have any chance on Wednesday against the Ivory Coast in Douala.

The marquee match of the second round is a tough encounter for Egypt, who have looked lacklustre with Salah providing little impact.

The Egyptian made it clear last week that he was desperate for Cup of Nations success. “I didn’t win any major tournament in my 10-year career with Egypt and I hope to do that this time,” he said.

Aubameyang’s Gabon are also playing in the last 16 on Sunday against Burkina Faso but without him. He tested COVID-19 positive on arrival in Cameroon and then showed signs of cardiac lesions before being released back to Arsenal for more tests.

Mahrez went home with Algeria after they finished bottom in Group E, having suffered an embarrassing loss to tiny Equatorial Guinea.

“We were not at the right level. I assume and take all the responsibility. It's part of football. We win, we lose. We gave everything. We can't do anything more. Hopefully, we will come back stronger,” he said.

(Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Ken Ferris)

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 1
Cxense type: free
User access status: 3
Join our Telegram channel to get our Evening Alerts and breaking news highlights
   

Next In Football

Soccer-Maradona tribute plane unveiled in Argentina
Soccer-Cup final defeat is bitter disappointment for Feyenoord
Soccer-'It is truly special' - emotional Mourinho revels in more European glory
Soccer-Zaniolo goal earns Roma first Europa Conference League title
Soccer-Mkhitaryan fit to start for Roma as Mourinho eyes unique trophy haul
Soccer-Kompany ends managerial role with Anderlecht
Soccer-AC Milan's Pioli gets Serie A winners' medal back
Soccer-'No better way to say goodbye than Scudetto': Kessie to leave AC Milan
Pan-gon gives out good vibes, says Davies
Soccer-Liverpool parade timing jars with Heysel victim's son

Others Also Read