To close the chapter of the 8th finals, the CAN-2019 - or rather the luck of the draw - saw big: Mali - Ivory Coast and Ghana - Tunisia, two posters that would not swear in the semi-finals of the competition, since they put neither more nor less than four of the most serious outsiders in the coronation race. Except that after three weeks of competition, three of those accustomed to the lights look grim, after experiencing a complicated introduction.
The derby between Mali and Ivory Coast, in particular, would have seen a few weeks ago the Elephants position themselves as favorites. But since the start of this African Cup, Ivorians stammer their football. The offensive armada lined up by coach Ibrahim Kamara does not lack talent, but the Pépé, Gradel, Saha and Cornet have multiplied the approximations.
A lack of accuracy at the approach of the zone of truth which did not have catastrophic consequences, since the Elephants ended up coming hard to overcome South Africa (1-0) in opening, then of the Namibia on the third day after suffering a long time (4-1). Their defeat against Morocco (0-1) has however confirmed some limits, it will absolutely be necessary to blow in this knockout match.
Especially since in front, Mali remains on a very good dynamic. First in Group E with seven points, the Eagles still have not tasted defeat. After their maiden success on Mauritania, the first card of the African Cup (4-1), they went to look for a happy but encouraging draw against Tunisia (1-1), before signing a second victory against rough Angola (1-0).
Young and talented, the players of Mohamed Magassouba surprise by their pragmatism and the Wague, Diaby Traoré and Haidara bring this new generation brilliantly. Enough to finally break the glass ceiling? Since 1972, the date of their only final, the Malians have joined the CAN semi-finals five times ... for as many defeats.
Shock between convalescents
In terms of semifinals, difficult not to praise the expertise of Ghana. Since 2006, the Black Stars have systematically been part of the last square of the great continental raout. A series of six semi-finals, therefore, which however never seemed so close to end. Because if the teammates of the Ayew brothers finished at the top of the group F, they did not so much fly the debates, far from there.
Admittedly, Ghanaians have not lost a match. Nevertheless, their inaugural draw against Benin did not reassure (2-2), even if they were reduced to ten at the hour of play, after the expulsion of Boye. Their second exit, against Cameroon, did not give rise to a football party. Not really helped by indomitable Lions who showed little ambition in the game, James Kwesi Appiah's men never found the fault (0-0) and concluded the second day with two small units on the clock.
Again, no major consequence, since their last match against Guinea-Bissau has ensured the essential (2-0), despite an unlikely domination of the Lycaons. But this Ghana stands at the stage of the round of 16 without benefit of reference, where other cadors have already set off a dynamic.
And this dynamic, the Ghanaians could well take advantage of the large form of Tunisia to put in place. Because in terms of disappointment on the start of this CAN, the Eagles of Carthage occupy the top step of the podium.
The men of Alain Giresse, the target of many critics in the country, simply went through a hole of the mouse to qualify, finishing second in group E with just three points. The record is fast: three draws, against Angola (1-1), Mali (1-1) and Mauritania (0-0), two goalkeepers in crisis of confidence and leaders who seem at the cost of form. Khazri, Msakni, Sliti and Khenissi ... so many offensive options that will have to do everything to finally launch their CAN-2019. At the risk of getting the wrath of a people who does not hide his frustration, especially on social networks.