How Are the Mighty Fallen!
BY KUNLE SOLAJA
It started on Friday with the very first match of the group stage in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying series. Sudan, a medium power football nation crumbled miserably 1-3 at home to hitherto paper weight Madagascar.
The next day, Zambia, two time runners-up and a former champion, lost 0-1 at home to Mozambique. Information has it that it was the first time Mozambique had beaten Zambia away from home.
Then followed by that of the over confident Super Eagles of Nigeria who 0-2 lost at home to their perennial victims, Bafana Bafana. The shock of the night was completed when one of the strongholds of African football, Cote d’Ivoire also lost at home, 2-3 to Guinea.
And so, the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers have turned topsy- turvy! Adios, form books. Adios predictability! Interesting days certainly lie ahead as bruised ‘super powers’ will attempt a fight back.
Hitherto, South Africa’s Bafana Bafana have found the West African region a miserable hunting ground. Excluding matches played on neutral grounds, South Africa only won three out of 17 previous encounters with West African countries in West Africa.
Now they have found their confidence and key to success.
It began with a 4-0 defeat of Gambia last year and a 1-1 score line with Burkina Faso.
The 2-0 victory over Nigeria is undoubtedly a big score. It is also symbolic for the South Africans as they celebrate their milestone 50th Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match with a resounding away victory against ‘giant’ Nigeria.
They have extended their unbeaten run to 18 matches, the current longest streak in Africa. They, like Madagascar and Mozambique have proved that the Africa Cup of Nations have defied the formbook.