Getty Images

2019 Africa Cup of Nations preview, schedule, predictions

Leave a comment

The 2019 Africa Cup of Nations kicks off in Egypt on Friday and for the first time in its history the tournament will be played during the summer months.

It will also be the largest-ever AFCON tournament, with 24 teams competing to be crowned as Champions of Africa.

[ LIVE: Africa Cup of Nations scores

Egypt, the runners up two years ago as they lost to Cameroon in the final, are favorites and will have a huge support on home soil, while Senegal, Nigeria, Ghana and the Ivory Coast will all be favored to make deep runs.

The likes of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Riyad Mahrez will lead their respective nations, as plenty of Premier League stars will be strutting their stuff.

Below is everything you need to know ahead of the tournament kicking off on June 21 (the final is in Cairo on July 19) including the full schedule, group stage predictions and which Premier League stars you can keep an eye on in Egypt.


TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE

Group stage

June 21
Group A: Egypt v Zimbabwe – Cairo International Stadium

June 22
Group A: Democratic Republic of Congo v Uganda – Cairo Stadium
Group B: Nigeria v BurundiGuinea v Madagascar – Alexandria Stadium

June 23
Group D: Morocco v Namibia – Al Salam Stadium, Cairo
Group C: Senegal v Tanzania, Kenya v Algeria – 30 June Stadium, Cairo

June 24
Group D: South Africa v Ivory Coast – Al Salam Stadium
Group E: Tunisia v Angola, Mauritania v Mali – Suez Stadium

June 25
Group F: Cameroon v Guinea-Bissau, Ghana v Benin – Ismailia Stadium

June 26
Group B: Nigeria v Guinea – Alexandria Stadium
Group A: Uganda v Zimbabwe, Egypt v DR Congo – Cairo Stadium

June 27
Group B: Madagascar v Burundi – Alexandria Stadium
Group C: Algeria v Senegal, Kenya v Tanzania – June 30 Stadium

June 28
Group E: Tunisia v Mali – Suez Stadium
Group D: Morocco v Ivory Coast, Namibia v South Africa – Al Salam Stadium

June 29
Group E: Mauritania v Angola – Suez Stadium
Group F: Cameroon v Ghana, Benin v Guinea-Bissau – Ismailia Stadium

June 30
Group B: Madagascar v Nigeria, Alexandria Stadium
Group B: Burundi v Guinea – Al Salam Stadium
Group A: Egypt v Uganda – Cairo Stadium
Group A: Zimbabwe v DR Congo – June 30 Stadium

July 1
Group D: South Africa v Morocco – Al Salam Stadium
Group D: Namibia v Ivory Coast – June 30 Stadium
Group C: Kenya v Senegal – June 30 Stadium
Group C: Tanzania v Algeria – Al Salam Stadium

July 2
Group F: Benin v Cameroon – Ismailia Stadium
Group F: Guinea-Bissau v Ghana, Suez Stadium
Group E: Mauritania v Tunisia – Suez Stadium
Group E: Angola v Mali – Ismailia Stadium

Round of 16

July 5
Match 41: Group D winners v 3rd Group B/E/F – Al Salam Stadium
Match 38: Group A runners-up v Group C runners-up – Cairo Stadium

July 6
Match 42: Group B runners-up v Group F runners-up – Alexandria Stadium
Match 39: Group A winners v 3rd Group C/D/E – Cairo Stadium

July 7
Match 37: Group B winners v 3rd Group A/C/D – Alexandria Stadium
Match 40: Group C winners v 3rd Group A/B/F – June 30 Stadium

July 8
Match 43: Group E winners v Group D runners-up – Suez Stadium
Match 44: Group F winners v Group E runners-up – Ismailia Stadium

Quarterfinals

July 10
Match 45: Winners match 38 v Winners 41 – June 30 Stadium
Match 48: Winners 42 v Winners 39 – Cairo Stadium

July 11
Match 47: Winners 43 v Winners 40 – Suez Stadium
Match 46: Winners 37 v Winners 44 – Al Salam Stadium

Semifinals

July 14
Match 49: Winners 45 v Winners 46 – June 30 Stadium
Match 50: Winners 47 v Winners 48 – Cairo Stadium

Third-place

July 17
Match 51: Losing semifinalists – Al Salam Stadium

Final

July 19
Match 52: Winning semifinalists – Cairo Stadium


PREMIER LEAGUE STARS TO WATCH

Mohamed Salah (Egypt)

Sadio Mane (Senegal)

Wilfried Ndidi (Nigeria)

Idrissa Gueye (Senegal)

Riyad Mahrez (Algeria)

Victor Wanyama (Kenya)

Wilfried Zaha (Ivory Coast)


PREDICTIONS

Group A
1. Egypt
2. DR Congo
3. Uganda
4. Zimbabwe

Group B
1. Nigeria
2. Guinea
3. Burundi
4. Madagascar

Group C
1. Senegal
2. Algeria
3. Kenya
4. Tanzania

Group D
1. Ivory Coast
2. Morocco
3. South Coast
4. Namibia

Group E
1. Tunisia
2. Mali
3. Mauritania
4. Angola

Group F
1. Ghana
2. Cameroon
3. Benin
4. Guinea-Bissau

Chelsea needs to wait “48 hours” to assess Mount

Photo by Charlotte Wilson/Offside/Offside via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Mason Mount‘s move from the Championship to the Premier League has been nearly seamless.

His adjustment to the Champions League was cut down too quickly to get an understanding of whether it would be too big of a jump.

[ MORE: Match recap | Barkley drama ]

Mount, 20, was chopped down by Valencia’s Francis Coquelin, the former Arsenal man, and had to leave the game after just 16 minutes.

Here’s Frank Lampard, from ChelseaFC.com:

“He’s got an ankle injury but we don’t know how bad it is. We’ll have to assess it in the next 48 hours to see the scale of the injury. It was a shame because he started the game well and it meant we had to make the change early on.”

Mount scored nine times with four assists on loan under Lampard at Derby County last season, and has already chipped in three goals for Chelsea this season.

Lampard turned to Pedro off the bench on Tuesday, but any lengthy absence for Mount will spell more time for American youngster Christian Pulisic.

UEFA Champions League Wednesday preview: Man City, Spurs debut

Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur begin their UEFA Champions League campaigns on very different results and with very different vibes.

City is coming off a stunning 3-2 loss to injury-hit Norwich City, and is set up in Ukraine to face Shakhtar Donetsk for the third-straight season, a side which beat Pep Guardiola once in four tries between 2017/18 and 2018/19 in the UCL.

[ MORE: UCL Tues. wrap ]

But on Wednesday, Guardiola’s men are going to carry a similar feel to one of his old Barcelona teams, as Pep seemingly will have Fernandinho pull a Javier Mascherano and drop into the back line.

Yes, Fernandinho and Nicolas Otamendi are Manchester City’s hopes at center back, now that John Stones has joined Aymeric Laporte on the shelf.

“For me as a manager it’s an incredible challenge,” said Pep Guardiola. “But I believe a lot, people don’t know the spirit and resolve to solve this problem. The players going to come back with Dinho, Eric Garcia, Taylor Harwood-Bellis. … It’s happened, but what we are not going to do is complain. We have to have 11 players on the pitch and I like it, to find a solution. For the players as well to find an incredible step forward.”

Spurs, meanwhile, will simply be trying to build on any momentum gained by a 4-0 demolition of Crystal Palace at the weekend, a win which came after manager Mauricio Pochettino begged his side to “re-focus” after a relatively poor start to the season.

Now a bit more relaxed, Spurs head to Greece as the clear favorites against stingy Olympiacos. These are, after all, the finalists of last season’s tournament.

Pochettino won’t be sleeping on the challenge, from The London Evening Standard:

“They have good players and if we are not focused and don’t take our best game we are going to suffer. But last season we played in the final of Champions League, so it’s normal people think before the game, Tottenham is one step above Olympiacos but in the end you need to show it on the pitch.”

Spurs are one of two early kickoffs on Tuesday.

Full UCL Wednesday schedule

12:55 p.m. ET
Club Brugge v. Galatasaray
Olympiacos v. Tottenham Hotspur

3 p.m. ET
Bayer Leverkusen v. Lokomotiv Moscow
Paris Saint-Germain v. Real Madrid
Atletico Madrid v. Juventus
Dinamo Zagreb v. Atalanta
Bayern Munich v. Red Star Belgrade
Shakhtar Donetsk v. Manchester City

American coach Marsch speaks after landmark Champions League day

Photo by Andreas Schaad/Bongarts/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Jesse Marsch made his UEFA Champions League debut on Tuesday, a historic first for not just the Wisconsin native but also his country.

Marsch, 45, oversaw Red Bull Salzburg’s 6-2 demolition of Genk, becoming the first American to win a UCL match as manager.

[ MORE: Champions League Tues. wrap ]

“We knew we were going into the match full of confidence,” he said, via the Salzburg site. “We knew too that we could put in a performance of this quality. I wasn’t pleased with a few situations, such as conceding for 3-1. That shows our incredible mentality though as it prompted us to give a few more percent and immediately score two goals.”

The ex-New York Red Bulls manager and RB Leipzig assistant manager got another three goals from incredible 19-year-old striker Erling Braut Haland, who nows has 17 goals in nine matches this season.

“It is an absolute joy to work with this team. We have a lot of players who just know how to battle, and that rubs off on the others. You can see that on the pitch on nights like tonight.”

There will be tougher nights ahead for Marsch, who is in a group with Liverpool and Napoli, but Tuesday was a fine start for the tactician. And it was a banner moment for American coaches abroad, who’ve been led by past and present USMNT coaches Bob Bradley and Gregg Berhalter.

Maybe one day that’ll be Marsch’s title… but it seems like he may have some loftier ground to cover on his path through world soccer.

Klopp: Liverpool made wrong decisions; Penalty also incorrect

Photo by Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is going to bat for his left back after Andrew Robertson gave away what became the decisive penalty in a 2-0 loss to Napoli in UEFA Champions League action on Tuesday.

“I don’t think it’s a penalty,” Klopp said. “What can I say, for me, it is clear and obvious no penalty. He jumps before any contact, we can’t change that.”

[ RECAP: Napoli 2-0 Liverpool ]

For what it’s worth: It sure seemed like both a foul on Robertson and a comical embellishment from Callejon, but we digress.

Liverpool just didn’t have it on the day, like when Sadio Mane played a terrible pass to Mohamed Salah on what could’ve been an easy 1-0 lead.

In the moments they did have it, there was Napoli goalkeeper Alex Meret making a splendid save.

“We played a lot of good football but didn’t finish it off. We controlled moments but had not enough chances in the end. We made decisions that were not right and have to accept the result. It was very often the final ball that was not right.”

Also, forgive Klopp if he has stopped enjoying the beautiful country of Italy.