It is truly an unforgettable tournament. The group stage of the African Cup fulfilled all expectations on and off the field. A mix of unexpected stars, fairy tales and fantastic characters. Brian Soares Duarte from Youtube’s Koolcast didn’t miss a second and chose his seven favorite moments for us.
1. The unexpected scorer
Neither Sadio Mane nor Riyad Mahrez nor Mo Salah. Surprisingly, Cameroonian Vincent Aboubakar crowned himself as the top scorer in the group stage with five goals.
“A forgotten striker because he plays football in Saudi Arabia with Al-Nassr,” said Soares Duarte. “But so far Aboubakar has lived up to the expectations of his home fans. After two penalties in the opening match, he scored three more times. He was one of the absolute pioneers of fashion.”
2. Howl champion in Sierra Leone
Pictures of his amazing rescue operations against the superpower Algeria spread. Goalkeeper Mohamed Kamara achieved hero status in Sierra Leone with his performance in the African Cup.
Soares Duarte said: “When he was awarded the ‘Man of the Match’ award, Camara burst into tears. “The feelings are completely understandable. Like many of the other boys in the African Cup, he does not play for a big team (Sierra Leone’s East End Lions, ed.). So it’s great for such a person to be recognized at a major tournament.”
3. Counter-regression of Algeria’s favourite
One of the big competitors early, after the group stage absolute disappointment. The African Cup is already over for the defending champion Algeria. “Their performance was very disappointing,” said Soares Duarte. “They barely scored a point – and scored even less – in a group that included Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea and Sierra Leone.”
“It was basically an offensive problem. It was very dependent on Islam Soleimani in the rush hour. Riyad Mahrez and Said Benrahma did not live up to expectations. We are now looking for the next generation.”
4. The Belgian Revelation in The Gambia
A Belgian is a great inspiration for a fairy tale. Coach Tom Saintfeet surprisingly led Gambia, the smallest African country, to the 1/8 finals. “We interviewed him at Colcast before the Africa Cup,” says Soares Duarte. “He already knew at the time that it could hurt many teams as a group. There was also a clear tactic, with strong defense and a plan in the transition.”
“No one thought in advance that they would advance to second place in a group that includes Mali, Mauritania and Tunisia. It’s just their first participation in the African Cup, right? It proves that you don’t always need superstars on the shortlist.”
5. Cape Verde Experience
With a population of barely half a million, Cape Verde will soon reach the 1/8 finals of the African Cup. Soares Duarte – himself from the archipelago – couldn’t be prouder: “The choice at the moment is then a bit far from nationalism,” he laughs. “But the performance is also good – Cape Verde scored points when they had to. A big heel from Gary Rodrigues led us to the next round.”
“It is great to see how all Cape Verdeans experience this African Cup. We may be made up of ten different islands – and many overseas expats – but we live moments like these as one.”
6. The first female ref
Historical. Salima Mukansanga was the first female referee to blow the whistle for a match in the African Cup. The 34-year-old Rwandan has led Zimbabwe and Guinea in the right direction. Her assistants were also women.
“A great thing for the world of football,” says Soares Duarte. “It shows that other than becoming a soccer star, there are still a number of ways to play a role in the sport as a woman.”
7. Happy Comoros Commentator
There is a spectacle that can be experienced not only in the stadium, but also in the stands. At the last minute, Soares Duarte picked brilliant commentator from Comoros, Kasim Aomori.
“He went completely crazy by scoring his country’s first goal in the African Cup. Aomori always calls his favorite player ‘Moon Chocho’. As the third best, they qualified for the 1/8 finals. With a coach who started as a volunteer, but he got an unexpected team spirit in the group.” “.
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