Tanzania and Kenya return to the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations for the first time since 1980 and 2004 respectively and face a tough group against seasoned campaigners Algeria and Senegal.
The group looks tough for the East African nations but how far can they go?
Kawowo Sports’ Ismael Kiyonga previews Group C citing the strengths and weaknesses of each team and highlighting the key player from each team.
Nickname: Teranga Lions
Coach: Aliou Cisse
AFCON appearances: 15
Best Performance: Runners up (2002)
Key Player: Sadio Mane
Strengths: The Lions of Teranga have one of the strongest and well balanced squads at the Afcon. A strong defence led by Napoli’s Kalidou Coulibaly, a midfielder marshalled by Everton’s Idrisa Gueye and a forward line led by Liverpool’s Sadio Mane.
Weaknesses: They always fall short at the big stage and rarely live up to their pre-tournament favourites-billing.
Nickname: Taifa Stars
Coach: Emmanuel Amunike
AFCON appearances: 2
Best Performance: Group Stages (1980)
Key Player: Mbwana Ally Samatta (KRC Genk)
Strengths: They are a team that works and fights for each other. No many big names save for Samatta but he puts team first. Besides, they have a team that has played together for some time with the likes of experienced John Bocco, Samatta, Thomas Ulimwengu, Erasto Nyoni, Aggrey Morris and Kelvin Yondani among others.
Weaknesses: The Afcon finals will be a whole new experience to the team and the opponents will look to exploit their naivety at the stage.
Nickname: Harambee Stars
Coach: Sebastien Migne
AFCON appearances: 6
Best Performance: Group Stages (1972, 1988, 1990, 1992 and 2004)
Key Player: Victor Wanyama (Tottenham Hotspur)
Strengths: A strong midfield marshalled by skipper Victor Wanyama along with Dennis Odhiambo and Akumu as well as a strong backline that concedes less.
Weaknesses: Over reliance on Michael Olunga for goals will cost them at the bigger stage and they are not clinical enough in front of goal. Besides, their goal keeping position is kind of suspect.
Nickname: Dessert Warriors
Coach: Djamel Belmadi
AFCON appearances: 19
Best Performance: Champions (1990)
Key Player: Riyad Mahrez
Strengths: A fierce attacking force led by Manchester City’s Mahrez and always get the goals.
Weaknesses: Their defence isn’t as compact if attacked and always crumble at the bigger stage despite the enormous quality in the team.