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Africa & Asia Cups' Group Stage Surprises

Syria reached the knockout stage of the Asian Cup for the first time in history and shared a touching video with the world. During the national team coach's interview, his translator and correspondent cried tears of joy for the team.

Ghana and Algeria were eliminated from the Africa Cup after just three rounds. The teams failed to advance from the group despite being among the top 6 favorites of the tournament.

André Onana arrived for the first round on a private plane but did not make the squad for the match. In the next game, the Cameroonian goalkeeper failed to create a single save and conceded 3 goals, and in the last round, he remained on the bench.

Malaysia earned its first point in the history of the Asian Cup in the 105th minute of the final match. The team secured a draw against South Korea (3:3), pushing them to the second spot in the group.

The Ivory Coast Federation fired the head coach after the third round, thinking the team had missed the playoffs. Later, it turned out that the Ivorians had advanced from the group in third place, and the federation unsuccessfully attempted to hire manager Hervé Renard from the French women's national team for the remainder of the Cup.

Two teams from the post-Soviet space advanced from the group stage in the Asian Cup. Uzbekistan and Tajikistan reached the round of 16 from the second positions in their respective groups.

Among the teams from both tournaments, Equatorial Guinea was the most prolific. The African team scored 9 goals, and their 34-year-old captain, Emilio Nsue, became the top scorer of the African tournament with five goals.

China demonstrated defensive prowess, with only 1 goal scored in their matches over three rounds. The Asian team had the best defensive record (1 goal conceded) but the worst offensive performance (0 goals scored) and was eliminated with two points.

Almost none of the stars suffered injuries, but Mohamed Salah was sidelined for 3-4 weeks. Interestingly, Egypt made it to the playoffs without their leader.

The worst performances came from Hong Kong and India. Asian teams scored 0 points and left Qatar with a goal difference of -6.

Published by Patrick Jane