The 2018 African Nations Championship also known as the Total African Nations Championship (CHAN 2018) kicked off on 12th January. This is the 5th edition of the African Nations Championship organized by the Confederation Of African Football (CAF) hosted by Morocco.
The tournament is exclusive to players from their national championship. The competing national teams must be composed of players playing in their domestic league. Kenya was denounced as the host nation due to a lack of progress with preparations and was replaced by Morocco. DR Congo the defending champions failed to qualify for this edition.
Each squad can contain a maximum of 23 players. A total of 32 match officials were selected for the tournament. The Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system will be used starting in the quarter-finals, a first in African competitions. Although VAR was tried out in several European leagues (Seria A, German league etc) this season, it recorded massive 90% correct decisions in Italian Seria A.
There are 16 teams competing for the CHAN 2018 trophy and they were put into 4 groups.
|Group A||Group B||Group C||Group D|
|3||Guinea||Ivory Coast||Rwanda||Burkina Faso|
Morocco kicked off the tournament with a resounding 4-0 victory against Mauritania. Morocco went into the match as favorites but was frustrated by their opponents. After a lackluster first half, they were finally able to get in their stride and secure maximum points through an impressive second-half display.
Sudan also got the best of Guinea in their clash. Omer’s goal gave Sudan the advantage in the first half but they were pegged back by Guinea’s equalizer. Sudan was finally able to secure victory in the 75th minute through Saifeldin.
The match day 2 for this group saw Morocco defeat Guinea by three goals to one to further extend their points to 6. On the other group game, Sudan narrowly defeated Mauritania by a lone goal ensuring they are closely following Morocco as they secure qualification to the next round of the competition.
|1||Morocco (H)||2||2||0||0||7||1||+6||6||Knockout stage|
Ivory coast was handed a surprise loss when they faced Namibia. The match seemed pretty even and was heading for a draw till Hambira got the winning goal for Namibia in the 92nd minute.
Zambia confirmed their superiority over Uganda with a 3-1 win. Zambia got the lead on 38 minutes through Lazarus Kambole but the Cranes equalized two minutes later through Derrick Nsibambi. Two second-half goals from the Zambians ensured their claimed all three points.
Matchday 2 saw table leaders Zambia secure qualification to the next round as they defeated Ivory Coast, this is the Ivorian’s second straight loss. The other group game was a very tough one as it took Namibia a loss time goal to secure qualification to the next round of the competition.
Libya defeated Equatorial Guinea 3-0 in their clash. Two quick-fire goals from Al Taher 5 minutes apart ensured Libya controlled the match and play at their own pace. Their victory was sealed with Al Harash 86th minute goal.
The Super Eagles failed to secure maximum points as they were held 0-0 by Rwanda in their opening match. Nigeria was the dominant side but they failed to do the most important thing, score goals.
Burkina Faso opened their campaign with an eventful goalless draw against Angola in their Group D opener. The stallions were second best for most parts of the game but failed to hit the target with the best opportunity of the game seven minutes from time.
Cameroon was undone by the 73rd –minute penalty. Makiesse stepped up and scored the lone goal of the match denying Cameroon their first point of the tournament.
The opening matches have seen Morocco further establish themselves as Favorites. A couple of heavyweights have had a slow start and will be looking to kick-off their campaign in their second match of the tournament.
The African Nations Championship continues today with Table Toppers Libya battles it out with Super Eagles of Nigeria who are looking for their first win of the tournament. Rwanda who sits third on the table faces Equatorial Guinea by 20:30 at the Grand Stade de Tanger.