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CHAN: Highlights, standings and standout players after the first matches

The 2020 African Nations Championship in Cameroon has gone through its first round of matches. Teams are still finding chemistry and finding their momentum, but there were several bright spots and players that caught the eye. Pan-Africa Football looks at how things stand after the opening games and a player of interest from each group.

Group A

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Matchday 1 Results

Cameroon 1-0 Zimbabwe  (Highlights)
Mali 1-0 Burkina Faso  (Highlights)

Matchday 2 Fixtures (20 January)

Cameroon v Mali
Burkina Faso v Zimbabwe

Players of the Round

Sadio Kanoute- Mali (Stade Malien)
Mamadou Doumbia (Stade Malien) (#15)

It was well-known that the Stade Malien contingent in Mali’s defense was going to make things difficult for opposing attacks, and Burkina Faso discovered this fact on Saturday. 24-year-old Sadio Kanoute, referred to by Goal as the “Malian Busquets”, cut out attacks and used his long legs to cause Burkinabé playmaker Clément Pitroipa plenty of frustration. Doumbia is a physical force at center-back who has the speed to tackle swiftly but also possesses excellent lower-body strength to win 1 v 1 matchups against strikers, as seen here:

Group B

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Matchday 1 Results

Libya 0-0 Niger  (Highlights)
DR Congo 1-0 Congo (Highlights)

Matchday 2 Fixtures (21 January)

Libya v DR Congo
Congo v Niger

Player of the Round

Henoc Inonga Baka- DR Congo (DC Motema Pembe)

23-year-old AS Vita Club winger Makabi Lilepo deserves a mention, if anything because his fearlessness on the dribble livened up an underwhelming match. However, in a day where defense often won the battle, 27-year-old DR Congo center-back Henoc Inonga Baka stood out the most. The Congo derby featured plenty of direct football that opened up play and Baka’s combination of speed and aggression aided him when the game opened up and he engaged attackers 1 v 1:

Group C

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Matchday 1 Results

Morocco 1-0 Togo  (Highlights)
Rwanda 0-0 Uganda  (Highlights)

Matchday 2 Fixtures (22 January)

Morocco v Rwanda
Uganda v Togo

Player of the Round

Abdelmounaim Boutouil- Morocco (currently at Chabab Mohammedia on loan from Union SG [BEL])

The 22-year-old is looking more and more like a name Atlas Lions fans will become familiar with over the coming years. Boutouil is a center-back who is not too far from being in the senior national team picture for Morocco, and is starring at upstart club Chabab Mohammedia, a team that has only allowed 1 goal through 5 matches so far this season. On loan there from Belgian second-tier side Union Saint-Gilloise, more moments like these in the CHAN will continue to boost Boutouil’s stock:

Group D

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Matchday 1 Results

Zambia 2-0 Tanzania  (Highlights)
Guinea 3-0 Namibia  (Highlights)

Matchday 2 Fixtures (23 January)

Zambia v Guinea
Namibia v Tanzania

Player of the Round

Morlaye Sylla– Guinea (Horoya AC)

Based on explosiveness and natural talent with the ball, 22-year-old Guinean playmaker Morlaye Sylla is the most likely attacking player in this tournament to play in a top-6 European league. Sporting excellent close control to with confidence and flair, the Horoya AC player can also unleash quality shooting and service with either foot. His performance against Namibia was by far not complete, but the sparks of ingenuity like that on his goal show that he may be the best player at this tournament.

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