AFCON: Vincent Aboubakar shines as Mohamed Salah experiment backfires

With all 24 nations having played at least one game at this year’s Africa Cup of Nations, we take a look back at the best performers and who has had a week to forget with African football journalist Usher Komugisha…

The player of the tournament so far has to be the Cameroon captain Vincent Aboubakar. He’s scored four goals in two games, and you can see he’s on his way to putting in an incredible performance across the whole tournament.

When you look at the top goalscorers in the previous five tournaments, you see that Odion Ighalo scored five in the 2019 edition in Egypt and the rest are just at four and three goals in the whole tournament so kudos to Aboubakar who is leading from the front and is showing a lot of character and precision with his finishing.

Let’s see how far Cameroon will go, but they have impressed in becoming the first team to qualify for the round of 16. It’s important to note that Cameroon are the only team so far in the tournament to score more than a goal in a single game, having won 2-1 in their opener against Burkina Faso and now 4-1 in their second match against Ethiopia.

Looking at the team Cameroon have now, led by Aboubakar and playing at home, and the fact that they are unbeaten in Yaounde since October 1988, it’s a very powerful record they have so they are using the home support and that familiarity to find their way into the business end of the tournament.

The situation with Mohamed Salah is that the Egypt head coach Carlos Queiroz conceded after the defeat to Nigeria that he wanted to play him out of position in order to surprise the opposition.

But it looked like he actually surprised himself and his teammates. The more you think about it, the more it looks like he got that tactically wrong. Watching the game back, Salah looked a complete shadow of himself.

It’s not easy for North African sides to play in Sub-Saharan Africa and most of the Egyptian players who play in their national leagues, they’re used to playing games at night whenever it’s the summer and when it’s hot.

Playing the game in a hot environment during the day is something that could be affecting the Egyptian players but if they want to win, they’re going to have to step it up and produce a convincing performance. Against Nigeria, they looked lost, but you also have to give credit to Nigeria who are a very solid, well-coached side.

I would have to choose two countries so far who have really lit up the tournament – the first being Sierra Leone, who are playing at their first Africa Cup of Nations since 1996.

To see the manner in which they held the defending champions Algeria to a draw in their opening match was unbelievable. Algeria are now unbeaten in 35 competitive games so to see them draw that match was a thing of beauty, led by their captain Kei Kamara.

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