AFCON

By Jacob Ajom

Members of the CAF Technical Study Group (TSG) hosted a press conference on Friday (4 February 2022) at Ahmadou Ahidjou stadium in Yaoundé to share their opinion on the technical level of the ongoing 33rd edition of the TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations, Cameroon 2021.

For Jamal Fathi, this AFCON was of a good level. “We have seen some very good matches, especially with the participation of some minnows, even if now there are no more small teams in Africa, due to the experience acquired by their players either in the various local championships or even of their Europe-based players” indicated the former coach of Morocco’s Raja. “We noticed teams like Comoros or Gambia who knew how to emerge during this TotalEnergies AFCON,” he added.

“I can tell you that AFCON competes with other international competitions like Euro, Asian Cup or other tournaments. The African teams are now of an international level,” concluded Fathi.

Asked about high level of goalkeepers during the tournament, former Senegal star Khalilou Fadiga explained “the goalkeepers have been highlighted since the start of the tournament. Currently, they are an integral part of their teams, and they must be put forward when they deserve it. For this reason, we have elected several goalkeepers as TotalEnergies Man of The Match in many matches.”

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Abraham Mebratu, former Ethiopia and Yemen coach echoed Fadiga and said oalkeepers are now part of every coach’s tactical scheme. “The goalkeepers have become complete players now. We can count them as the last defender and the first attacker.”

When it comes to the new tactical themes used by coaches, TSG members highlighted there are no more old-fashioned playmakers in modern football. “During the tournament, we noticed a change in the tactical plans of different teams, particularly the absence of the traditional No.10,” explained Edgar

The former Ugandan midfielder added “coaches are currently choosing to set the midfield to play in the form of offensive or defensive blocks. The new trend is to have more realism offensively and defensively with a balance between the different compartments.”

Finally, TSG members welcomed the presence of local coaches in the advanced rounds of the competition. “More and more local coaches have succeeded in their mission within the African teams which are progressing. We must salute and congratulate coaches like Kamou Malo or Aliou Cissé who managed to reach the semifinals for Burkina Faso and final for the second time in a row for Senegal. This proves that football in Africa is developing well. We have nothing to envy to international football and other major international tournaments,” concluded Watson.

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