The 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) is barely two months away, and all the 24 participating teams have become aware of their group stage opponents. With Nigeria’s Super Eagles to battle Guinea, Madagascar and Burundi at the tournament billed to hold in Egypt from June 21, 2019, Ripples Nigeria’s Ben Ugbana curates 10 facts about the teams in Nigeria’s group B.
1. Madagascar and Burundi are newbies
The Barea of Madagascar and the Intamba Mu Rugamba of Burundi will be playing in the flagship continental competition for the very first time in their histories.
2. Guinea are four-time AFCON quarter-finalists and one-time runners-up
The Syli nationale of Guinea have once finished as second in the competition, and that was far back in 1976. They have however reached the last eight of the competition four times in recent editions – in 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2015.
3. Madagascar booked their spot in Egypt before any other team
Apart from their qualification for the tournament being a historical one, Madagascar were actually the first team in the continent to seal qualification for the showpiece. They did so with two matches to spare.
4. Guinea defeated Nigeria on their Nations Cup qualifying debut
Guinea debuted in the 1963 AFCON qualifiers, and were drawn in a two-legged qualifier against Nigeria. Guinea drew the first leg 2–2 away and won 1–0 at home to win 3–2 on aggregate. They were later disqualified for using Guinean officials in the second leg, and Nigeria went through to the finals in their place.
5. Burundi stunned Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang-led Gabon on the road to Egypt
The debutants may appear to be underdogs in group B, but it is worthy of note that they qualified for the tournament ahead of Gabon, who had Arsenal star, Aubameyang.
6. Guinea are second-favourites based on ranking
The Super Eagles are considered favourites to win the group as they are ranked above others (3rd in Africa, 42nd in the world), followed by Guinea who are 11th in the continent and 68th in the world.
7. Madagascar’s biggest football victory was in 1960
On 19 April Madagascar earned their biggest victory in football by beating the Congo 8–1 in their third-place play-off of a tournament between French-speaking nations.
8. Guinea hold an incredible goals record in AFCON
During the 2012 edition of the tournament, Guinea defeated Botswana 6–1 in the group stage, to become the first team to score six goals in an Africa Cup of Nations game since Côte d’Ivoire in 1970.
9. Burundi’s near qualification in 1994 was marred by Guinea
The Swallows could have made it to the finals of the 1994 Nations Cup (which would have been a historic one for them), but they lost on penalties to Guinea in a playoff during the qualifiers.
10. Burundi are the least ranked of all 24 participating teams
Of all the team that will be jostling for the Nations Cup title in Egypt in two months’ time, Burundi are the least ranked on FIFA. They are ranked 136th in the world and 24th in Africa.
Meanwhile, the winners and runners-up from each group, as well as the best four third–placed teams from the six groups, will qualify for the knockout rounds.
Also, matches will take place at the Cairo International Stadium, Al Salam Stadium in Cairo, Borg El-Arab Stadium in Alexandria, Suez Stadium, Ismailia Stadium and the Air Defence Stadium in Cairo.
The 2019 AFCON will hold between June 21 and July 19.