The preliminary stage of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) came to a brilliant end as eight of the twenty-four teams that began the tournament in Egypt bid farewell to their lofty dreams of being crowned as continental kings.
While several players have impressed at the ongoing tournament, a few of the big names that made the journey to Egypt have performed below the expectations and standards expected of them. Daily Advent x-rays the tournament so far and compiles the players who have been most disappointing to the fans in Egypt.
Aishi Manula| Tanzania | Goalkeeper
The goalkeeper was part of the history-making Taifa Stars who qualified for the first AFCON Finals in the country’s history under the management of Emmanuel Amuneke. However, the Simba FC star had a tournament to forget as a poor defensive record saw the East Africans exit the tournament at the first round. Aishi conceded five goals in the first two games, both of which ended in defeat.
Leon Balogun| Nigeria | Defender
Balogun’s inclusion in the Super Eagles’ final 23-man squad for the tournament raised a few eyebrows following a season where he had just 10 appearances in all competitions for the Seagulls. The defender was unimpressive in his first appearance but was supported by Omeruo who partnered him at centre back when the Super Eagles played against Guinea. But it was the game against Madagascar that his lack of game time showed. The Brighton and Hove Albion centre-back made a defensive mistake that led to the first goal Nigeria conceded in Egypt.
John Boye| Ghana | Defender
The FC Metz defender let his teammates down in the opening fixture of the Black Stars when they faced the Benin Republic. Boye, who had been tipped to be the rock on which Ghana could rest their title challenge was sent off following two bookable offences. The second yellow card was absolutely unnecessary and proved costly as Benin equalized a few moments later. His recklessness also ensured that he missed out on the important clash with Cameroon.
David Mwantika| Tanzania | Defender
The 30-year-old experienced defender was the core of what turned out to be the worst defence in the group stage of the ongoing AFCON 2019. Mwantika featured in all three games as the Taifa stars let in eight goals in three games in Egypt. He also committed fouls in dangerous areas to put his team at risk during the tournament picking up a yellow card in the first half against Kenya. He got subbed off in his final game even with his side chasing the game.
Percy Tau| South Africa | Midfielder
The South African attacking midfielder was tipped as one of the most exciting players to watch going into the tournament, but his performances have been underwhelming, to say the least. Tau made a lot of runs in the three games he featured in so far but failed to deliver any final ball of note or make any major impact on the results of his side. His poor finishing has also cost Bafana Bafana valuable points as he happened to direct shots straight at the keeper the few times he got them on target.
Naby Keita| Guinea | Midfielder
Keita was a part of the incredible Liverpool side that won the UEFA Champions League in June before he was judged fit enough to represent his nation at the AFCON Finals. However, his performances in Egypt were nothing to write home about and he might have been better off at home. He was bullied off the park by Oghenekaro Etebo who plays for Championship side Stoke City.
John Mikel Obi| Nigeria | Midfielder
The Super Eagles captain is the most successful player that took part at the first round of the tournament but he has been a shadow of his former self in Egypt. He was deployed in an advanced position by his team coach but the former Chelsea man failed to make an impact on any of the two games he featured in. In fact, he was so poor on both occasions that he was substituted in both games to allow younger players to make their mark.
Nicholas Pepe| Cote d’Ivoire | Midfielder
Pepe arrived in Egypt amid so much hype as one of the best talents from the tournament. His performances in the French Ligue 1 was so impressive that he is linked with a potential move to European giants Barcelona at the end of the AFCON tournament. Perhaps, he is so preoccupied with his transfer status that he left his scoring boots at home. The Ivorian has failed to find the net nor impress his fans with any of the attributes he is highly rated for since he got off the plane in Egypt.
Jean-Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting| Cameroon | Forward
You will probably not find a bigger player that has been more disappointing than Choupo-Moting at the ongoing tournament. The PSG star, who is Neymar’s understudy in Paris, has not had any impact on the tournament. The fact that he is the captain of the Indomitable Lions makes his lack of influence much more disappointing.
Steve Mounie| Benin Republic | Forward
There was only one Premier League striker at the start of the AFCON tournament and he failed to find the back of the net. In fact, the Squirrels of Benin have scored only two goals in the tournament so far, b0th of them coming from Mikeal Pote who should be keeping the Huddersfield striker, Mounie out of the side.
Mbaye Hamady Niang| Senegal | Forward
Niang was supposed to be the focal point of attack for the Teranga Lions of Senegal, a side heavily tipped to win this edition of the tournament. However, the former AC Milan striker has failed to hit the back of the net in his three appearances despite getting a number of good chances.
While three of these players (Munala, Mwantika, and Keita) will not be a part of the rest of this edition of the competitition, which of the remaining players do you think would improve as the tournament goes on and make their impact on AFCON?