The AFCON of this year has been simply amazing this time, and we are still just over the preliminary (group) stages! What an exhilarating sequence it has been! All manner of drama – late goals, comebacks, VAR interventions as usual, and what tops it….the giant-killing instincts of these so-called lesser nations! Not to talk of the unexpected premature exit of superpowers, and the just about scraping through of the big boys.

What also gets me is the rapidity of the revolving doors for coaches. OK we know that normally, competitions bring about a huge contribution of coaches back into the unemployment market, but this time, it is unprecedented.

Of the 24 countries that started the AFCON, before the 3rd round of games had been concluded in all groups, 25%, meaning one-quarter of the coaches have basically walked – either fired, resigned or being fired! And that says something.

Even one of the coaches had to walk, despite the fact that his team still had a chance to qualify for the second round (which they actually did, in the end). So the team will execute their round of 16 game with an interim coach.

And I, with my hat on as President of the African Football Scouts and Coaches Association (among other hats that I wear), know just how it feels.

There were lots of goals in the group stages, proving that the attacking prowess of our teams are more and more potent. Many goals unstoppable, many goals were just spectacular while some of the goals were just downright careless mistakes from defenders.

All these have made for a pretty exciting opening round of games in the AFCON, and wow…..are we not in for even more!

So the giants of Algeria have gone, as have the Black Stars of Ghana. We can’t step past the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia, once a superpower too but on recent showing, perhaps not anymore; nor can we ignore the fall of Chipolopolo of Zambia – one time golden boys of African football, winning the AFCON unexpectedly in 2012.

But we have seen emergence of new powers, trying to add ‘super’ to that word.

When you kill giants in consecutive AFCONs and deliver some great football along the way, it is time to take notice of such a team – Equatorial Guinea! Quarter finalists last time out, only losing out to the excellence of eventual champions Senegal…they are at it again.

Where did that come from? Time to look more into what they are doing so right in the game. Holding Nigeria, trouncing Guinea Bissau and then demolishing the hosts Cote d’Ivoire 4-0 was no mean feat. Whatever they do next, we really need to take note and doff our hats.

And the ageless Nsure – somehow leading goalscorer of the tournament, and leading by some!

Cape Verde, an island of less that 500,000 people. These guys just remind me of Iceland in 2016. In a group that had Egypt and Ghana, they finish top, unbeaten too! And if Equatorial Guinea has Nsue, Cape Verde has Bebe. Don’t we all remember him….and Sir Alex of Manchester United!

This is a good AFCON so far. Football has been the winner. No controversy, no skirmishes, no bad energy, just really good, pulsating football. An excellent advertisement for the game on a continent that has been so often overlooked over the years.

It starts again….and we continue to keep an eye on that revolving door of coaches as they pass their time after dismal performances or results that fail to meet expectations of their bosses.

‘Tunde Adelakun

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