The 32nd edition of the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) is now history. It was the seventh Afcon tournament I have covered, the second in Egypt after the 2006 edition. Others are South Africa (1996), Tunisia (2004), Ghana (2008), Angola (2010) and Gabon/ Equatorial Guinea (2012).
The event had many firsts. It is estimated around Shs92b ($25m) was used to organize the one month tournament in only five months and also talent worth Shs9.3t ($2.52b) was on show in six stadiums laid with hybrid grass, recommended for World Cup pitches.
It was also the first 24 team’s tournament with 52 matches and a record 102 goals. But off the field, Caf politics grabbed the headlines ahead of the final. Back to this later.
The head of the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) Hany Abo Rida explained how they worked around the clock to renovate six stadiums, three in Cairo; Cairo International Stadium, 30th June Stadium, Al Salam Stadium, Ismailia Stadium, Suez Stadium and the Alexandria Stadium.
On top of the stadiums, they made sure each of the 24 teams had its own training pitch. All these facilities were fixed with the modern grass which could cope with the summer heat.
The level of organization is a challenge to the three West Africa countries; Cameroon (2021), Ivory Coast (2023) and Guinea Conakry (2025) set to hosts the next editions.
The Egyptians raised the bar for a 24-teams tournament and Caf now have to think hard on how they choose host countries to avoid embarrassments.
This point was put to Ahmad Ahmad the Caf president during the closing press conference by Rida.
Over 100 goals were scored. Established strikers like Odion Ighalo (Nigeria) Riyaz Mahrez (Algeria), Sadio Mane (Senegal) and Mo Salah (Egypt) did their bit with scoring goals. However, players like Nicolas Pépé (Ivory Coast) and Hakim Ziyech (Morocco) who were expected to shine after having a good European season flopped.
As the end of every major tournament coaches and players tend to quit. Egypt 2019 was no different. Coaches, Herve Renard (Morocco), Clarence Seedorf and his assistant Patrick Kluivert (Cameroon), Paul Put (Guinea), Ricardo Mannetti (Namibia), Emmanuel Amunike (Tanzania), Javier Aguirre (Misiri) and Sebastien Desabre (Uganda) all lost their jobs. Players Ighalo and John Obi Mikel of Nigeria Super Eagles retired.
In 2004 in Tunisia, at the high of power struggle between Issa Hayatou and Farah Adoo (RIP) on one side and Sepp Blatter on the other side, Caf decided never to have Caf presidential election in between elections. The Caf presidential elections and Caf zonal elections left a bad mark in Tunis.
In Egypt, the elections of zonal representatives was overshadowed by the sacking of Amaju Melvin Pinnick the powerful Nigerian Football Federation president from his post as the First Vice President of Caf. The Nigerian was also the president of Afcon 2019 organising committee.
No clear reason was given but in the corridors of Caf, there was talk of power struggle in the continental body. For now Ahmad emerged strong and winner but for how long?
Uganda’s Moses Magogo, president of Fufa, strengthened his power on the local, regional and now continental scene after his election to the Caf executive committee. He is the first Ugandan to serve on the Caf elective Excom. Thank you Egypt.
Approx Shs9.3t ($2.52b) talent on field
Approx Shs92b ($25m)spent on organisation
1b- Viewers for the draw
800 – People attended the draw
750- Sedan cars
220- Journalists the draw
5-months spent preparing
How money was distributed
Nigeria and Tunisia $2m
(Madagascar, Ivory Coast, South Africa and Benin)
Round of 16: $670,000
(Benin, Uganda, Egypt, Mali, Guinea, DR Congo, Cameroon and
Third place in group-stages:
Angola and Kenya $620,000