After 24 matches across the four venues and six groups, the Total Africa Cup of Nations Egypt 2019 continues to gather momentum on and off the pitch.
And in the eyes of iconic figures, Samuel Eto’o of Cameroon fame, Senegalese El Hadji Diouf and former Egypt captain Ahmed Hassan, the historic edition which has 24 teams and played in the month of June-July ranks amongst the best on all levels – organisation, infrastructure, technical and tactical abilities and to mention but few.
At a press conference on Sunday, June 30 at the Cairo International Stadium, CAF Deputy General Secretary, Anthony Baffoe, joined by the three former players, presented an evaluation of the competition thus far to the public.
“Egypt has done a great example of amazing organization in less than six months and I want to commend the Local Organising Committee for the efforts put together towards hosting a memorable tournament. We’ve had great pitches and training facilities.
“We have good games till now. Four teams have qualified with six points - Egypt, Nigeria, Morocco and Algeria, Baffoe said.
Eto’o, who won the Africa Cup of Nations in 2000 and 2002 with Cameroon, said “I commend CAF on this brilliant idea of bringing 24 teams to AFCON and producing such a great tournament. We are doing our best to celebrate African football. I’m happy to be here and celebrate African football with my friends.
“Changing the period from January - February to June - July was A brilliant idea because most of the players lost their places in their clubs when it was played in January.
Diouf, was a pivotal part of the Golden generation of the Teranga Lions in the 2000’s and reached the final in 2002, losing to Cameroon on penalties.
Having featured in four editions, 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2008, the iconic forward said: “the organization has been excellent. We are lucky to find such great pitches and training fields. We have seen excellent matches and joyful moments.
“The level of the first round is very good. Four teams are already qualified which proves the level is very high. We have seen teams like Mauritania who I salute much because they have improved a lot.
“Many teams have surprised me. On top of them is Uganda. I salute them for their level and I believe their game against hosts Egypt is going to be a very good match.”
On the part of Ahmed Hassan, he said “I’m proud of Egypt had done till now and hopefully we continue like that. Everyone is doing his best to have the best tournament ever.
“When the AFCON was played in winter, many players were not fully focused because of their club duties. Having it in the summer is much better and I salute CAF for this decision”.