-THE OLDEST AND YOUNGEST TEAMS
-THE PLAYER MAKING A 7TH APPEARANCE
The 32nd Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) holding in Egypt kicks off in just four days’ time and after plenty of speculation and intense anticipation, all 24 Nations Cup squads have been announced with the final team lists revealing no major surprises.
Ibrahim Kamara left out 32-year old Gervais Yao Kouassi, better known as Gervinho from Ivory Coast’s final 23-man Nations Cup squad while Nigeria’s Kelechi Iheanacho was also omitted from Gernot Rohr’s team to Egypt but all in all, the usual suspects will be strutting their stuff for their respective countries at the continental football showpiece.
There is though, quite a lot to be gleaned from the team lists submitted to the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and an in-depth analysis of all 552 players who will be competing at the Nations Cup, reveal quite a few interesting tidbits.
The delicate task of balancing experience and youth has always been a tough assignment for coaches and while some swear by the wisdom and unflappability that comes with experience, others prefer to trust the fearlessness, exuberance and stamina of youth.
Nigeria’s Gernot Rohr has already opined that the fittest country will emerge champions of Africa and that perhaps informed his selection as the Super Eagles have the joint third youngest squad at the AFCON with an average age of 24.8 years (level with Guinea Bissau).
Madagascar who are appearing at the AFCON for the first time in their history have the oldest side in the competition with coach Nicolas Dupuis perhaps trusting that a squad with an average age of 28.7 years would be the best equipped to deal with the pressure and novelty of a first ever AFCON appearance. Tunisia are taking the youngest team to the Nations Cup with their 23 players averaging 24 years old while host nation Egypt are at the other end of the spectrum with an average age of 27.8 years old the joint 3rd oldest in the competition.
Here’s a table of the average age of the countries at the 2019 AFCON.
AVERAGE AGE OF AFCON 2019 SQUADS (AS ON JUNE 11, 2019)
|1.||Madagascar||28.7 years old|
|2.||South Africa||27.9 years old|
|3.||Morocco||27.8 years old|
|3.||Egypt||27.8 years old|
|4.||Angola||27.4 years old|
|5.||Democratic Republic of Congo||27.3 years old|
|5.||Algeria||27.3 years old|
|6.||Guinea||27.1 years old|
|7.||Zimbabwe||26.8 years old|
|8.||Cameroon||26.6 years old|
|8.||Tanzania||26.6 years old|
|9.||Benin||26.3 years old|
|9.||Ivory Coast||26.3 years old|
|10.||Senegal||26 years old|
|11.||Ghana||25.8 years old|
|12.||Namibia||25.7 years old|
|13.||Uganda||25.6 years old|
|14.||Kenya||25.5 years old|
|15.||Burundi||25.1 years old|
|16.||Mauritania||25 years old|
|17.||Guinea-Bissau||24.8 years old|
|17.||Nigeria||24.8 years old|
|18.||Mali||24.3 years old|
|19.||Tunisia||24 years old|
Morocco lead the way with the highest number of players aged 30 years and above with a whopping ten of their players aged 30 years or more. They are closely followed by Madagascar who have nine players aged 30 years or more while Egypt have the next highest number of players in that category with eight. Burundi have just one player aged 30 years or more and together with Mali who have no players aged 30 years, are the only sides with more than one teenaged player in their roosters. Senegal are the only other team apart from Mali with no players aged 30 years or more while Tunisia and Guinea-Bissau are the other sides with just one player aged 30 years or more.
In terms of the groups, Group D parades the highest number of players aged 30 years or more with 26 closely followed by Group A which has 22 players in that category. Group E has the fewest number of players in that age spectrum with just 9 players aged 30 years or above.
RANKING OF COUNTRIES WITH PLAYERS AGED 30 YEARS AND ABOVE
|No.||Country||No. Of Players Aged 30 Years And Above||No. Of Teenage Players|
|4.||Democratic Republic of Congo||7||0|
At 18 years and 140 days old, Tunisian centre back Marc Lamti is the youngest player at the 2019 Nations Cup and the German-born player who made his debut for the Carthage Eagles on the 7th of June in the 2-0 friendly win over Iraq is just one of four players aged 18 years playing in the competition.
TOP 5 YOUNGEST PLAYERS IN THE 2019 AFCON
|1.||Marc Lamti||28 January 2001 (18 years)||Bayer Leverkusen||Tunisia|
|2.||Mohamed Amissi||3 August 2000 (18 years)||NAC Breda||Burundi|
|3.||Edimar Vieria Cá||14 August 2000 (18 years)||UDIM||Guinea-Bissau|
|4.||Rodrique Kossi||11 July 2000 (18 years)||Club Africain||Benin|
|5.||Cheick Doucouré||8 January 2000 (19 years)||Lens||Mali|
Guinea goalkeeper Naby Yattara at 35 years and 156 days is the oldest player in the competition. Yattara made his debut as a 23-year-old and has since established himself between the sticks for Guinea. Madagascar defender Jeremy Morel is the oldest outfield player.
TOP 5 OLDEST PLAYERS IN THE 2019 AFCON
|1.||Naby Yattara||12 January 1984 (35 years)||Excelsior||Guinea|
|2.||Carlos Kameni||18 February 1984 (35 years)||Fenerbahçe||Cameroon|
|3.||Aggrey Morris||12 March 1984 (35 years)||Azam||Tanzania|
|4.||Jeremy Morel||2 April 1984 (35 years)||Lyon||Madagascar|
|5.||Stéphane Sessegnon||1 June 1984 (35 years)||Genclerbirliǧi||Benin|
Ghanaian Asamoah Gyan is the only player in the current squads to have played in six AFCONs (2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2017) and a further appearance will see him join seven other players to have played in seven AFCONs with the legendary duo of Ahmed Hassan of Egypt and Rigobert Song of Cameroon the only players to have played in eight AFCONs.
Gyan, who scored 4 goals in 14 appearances in the Turkish Süper Lig for Kayserispor, will also be eyeing a piece of AFCON history as he currently holds the joint record alongside Samuel Eto’o of Cameroon and Kalusha Bwalya of Zambia as the only players to have scored in six consecutive AFCONs. A goal in Egypt will see Gyan become the outright owner of the record although his haul of 8 goals is still some way off Eto’o’s record of 18 goals scored across six tournament appearances.