The A to Z of 2019 Africa Cup of Nations 

By AFP: Sunday, July 21st 2019 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Football
Algeria's Riyad Mahrez and teammates celebrate winning the Africa Cup of Nations with the trophy. [Reuters]

An A to Z of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, which concluded in Cairo Friday with Algeria defeating Senegal 1-0 in a final decided by a Baghdad Bounedjah goal after only two minutes:

A

Riyad Mahrez-captained Algeria were crowned African champions a second time after a tournament in which many rival coaches picked them out from early on as the best of the 24 title challengers.  

B

Benin stunned Morocco in the round of 16, winning 4-1 on penalties after playing most of extra time with 10 men following the red-carding of Khaled Adenon.

C

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Defending champions Cameroon were eliminated by Nigeria in a second round match that was among the most exciting in the tournament and the loss cost coach Clarence Seedorf his job.   

D

The Democratic Republic of Congo achieved the biggest win of the tournament by thrashing Zimbabwe 4-0 in Group A with Cedric Bakambu bagging a brace. 

E

Mohamed Salah-inspired Egypt were shock last-16 casualties, conceding five minutes from time to lose 1-0 against South Africa, and coach Javier Aguirre was sacked almost immediately.  

F

The new 24-team format -- up from 16 in the previous tournament -- did deliver excitement with the best four third-place qualifiers decided only after the last two group matches. 

G

A run of six consecutive top-four finishes by Ghana came to an end as they lost a last-16 penalty shootout against Tunisia after Caleb Ekuban had his kick saved.

H

Near 40 celsius (104 fahrenheit) heat when some mid-afternoon matches kicked off was blamed for the often cagey, snail-pace football.

I

Nigerian Odion Ighalo completed a double by finishing as the leading scorer at the finals with five goals having topped the qualifying scoring chart with seven.

J

Playing in June and July for the first time instead of January and February meant hundreds of African stars avoided having to choose between their country and European club.

K

Back at the Cup of Nations after 15 years, Kenya had the satisfaction of defeating East African neighbours Tanzania in a thriller, but were outclassed by Algeria and Senegal. 

L

Starting for the first time in the tournament, South African Thembinkosi Lorch scored the goal that shattered Egyptian dreams of a record-extending eighth title.  

M

Pre-tournament outsiders Madagascar shocked Nigeria to top Group B, then won a penalty shootout against DR Congo before a jaded side fell to Tunisia in the quarter-finals.

N

Nigeria finished third for the seventh time to satisfy coach Gernot Rohr, but not some supporters who criticised the selections and tactics of the German. 

O

There were four own goals in the 52 matches with Tunisians Rami Bedoui and Dylan Bronn, Namibian Itamunua Keimuine and Nigerian William Troost-Ekong the unfortunate quartet.

P

Regular-time penalties proved a problem for Senegal with Liverpool star Sadio Mane fluffing two before voluntarily relinquishing the role to Henri Saivet, who missed his lone spot-kick. 

Q

The overall quality of the football at the showpiece of African football was often pedestrian with far fewer memorable matches than forgettable ones. 

R

A run of winning every other Cup of Nations from 2012 ended for French coach Herve Renard when Benin stunned Morocco, whose squad had seemed among the strongest.   

S

Sadio Mane-inspired Senegal reached a second final and once again experienced the bitterness of defeat having lost a penalty shootout against Cameroon 17 years ago. 

T

Tunisia finished fourth despite winning only one of seven matches, a 3-0 last-eight drubbing of Madagascar. They drew their first four games and lost the last two. 

U

Uganda were the best of the East African qualifiers, finishing second behind Egypt in Group A before stretching Senegal, then they lost coach Sebastien Desabre to Egyptian club Pyramids. 

V

VAR (Video Assistant Referee) made its Cup of Nations debut from the last-eight stage and was used mainly to judge handballs with the chief complaint being slow decision making.

W

The scorching weather, with 30-plus  celsius (86 fahrenheit) temperatures even for night matches, was among the reasons given by the organisers for the many low attendances.

X

Many of the 24 teams in Egypt lacked players with the x factor as coaches emphasised teamwork and organisation over individual brilliance. 

Y

The most costly yellow card of the tournament was shown to star Senegal defender Kalidou Koulibaly in the semi-final win over Tunisia as it barred him from the final.

Z

Zimbabwe captain and forward Knowledge Musona was guilty of the miss of the tournament, failing to score from in front of an open goal during a Group A draw with Uganda. 

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