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Africa Cup of Nations U-20 2017

CAF U-20 Africa Cup of Nations Group Openers Produce Outstanding Results with an Unpredictable Twist

The CAF U-20 AFCON kicked off on Sunday in Zambia and the tournament includes 8 teams who will compete for the four spots available at the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup Korea Republic. This means that the semi-finalists at the continental tournament will join the 16 teams that have already qualified for the global contest, which runs from 20th May to 11th June.

Hosts Zambia kicked off the tournament with a 1-0 win over Guinea. The Junior Chipolopolo last appeared ten years ago but could make headway in the tournament with players such as Patson Daka – who plays up front for Austrian side Liefering and scored the only goal of the opening game.

One of the favored teams of Group A is Egypt. The young Pharaohs will be looking to emulate their senior colleagues who reached the finals in 2017 AFCON Gabon. The U-20 Egypt comfortably qualified for the finals by beating Angola (1-0, 4-0) over two legs. The team’s notable youngsters are; Karim Nedved, Ahmed Ramadan Beckham, and Khalil ‘Neymar’ Elnouby.

Mali, however, is determined to ensure that Egypt doesn’t sail through the finals smoothly. The West Africans held Egypt to a goalless draw in the opening group games yesterday. Considerably, Mali carries a strong squad which includes players who reached the final of the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Chile. To watch are the two Red Bull Salzburg starlets; Amadou Haidara and Sekou Koita, Grenada forward Aly Malle, and Standard Liege midfielder Moussa Djenepo.

Guinea will hope that after a poor start, its young stars, Alseny Soumah, Morlaye Sylla, and Naby Bangoura who all play for Portuguese outfit Arouca will put up a better performance in the next games.

In Group B, Senegal will be looking to lift the continental trophy for the first time after failing to win it last. Nearly losing out to Sudan, the Young Lions need to secure a win in the next game to up their chances of qualifying to the next round. Mamadou Diarra (Boluspor in Turkey), Ibrahima Ndiaye (Wadi Degla in Egypt), Waly Diouf and Dominique Minkilan are featuring stars of the team.

Cameroon will look to emulate its senior team’s 2017 Gabon AFCON championship win. It boasts of six players who are on the books of European and North American clubs.

“Our morale is really high. We had the best possible preparation and we’re in great shape,” Cameroon captain and midfielder Samuel Oum Gouet said prior to the tournament.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“The mentality of the whole squad is ideal. In fact, we’re not just a ‘group of players’, but a family and we’re ready to go all the way in this competition.”[/perfectpullquote]

Cameroon will have to dig deeper after a disappointing loss to an underrated South Africa in Group B opening game.

South Africa is one of the few teams that will solely rely on local players after seeing off Lesotho 3-0, 2-0 in the qualifiers. The team has done extremely well to hold off Cameroon with a 3-1 win in the opening group stages and could very well be on its way to a fantastic campaign start. Rising star, Luther Singh opened the tournament with a sensational hat-trick with more promising goals ahead.

The surprise team Sudan – who beat Nigeria 2-1, 3-4 in the final qualifying round – had a surprisingly good start despite squandering all opportunity to take all three points, nevertheless, Halid Abdamuleem is their player to watch out for.

Group A; Zambia, Guinea, Egypt, and Mali.

Group B; Senegal, Sudan, Cameroon, and South Africa.



Featured photo: Courtesy of CAF

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