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How Numbers are Deciding AFCON Champions

a group of men running in front of graph

During the AFCON (Africa Cup of Nations), data analytics is a hidden war between the dramatic goals and skillful passes on the football pitch.

Numbers subtly blend into wins, give insight to coaches, and turn the beautiful game into a tactical chess battle as the games go.

Imagine viewing every pass, tackle, and player’s heart rate through a digital lens.

Thanks to data platforms like Opta and StatsBomb, this is the reality for coaches like Senegalese coach Aliou Cissé.

With this fresh insight, coaches can analyze Senegal’s lightning-fast counterattacks and comprehend how players like Sadio Mané orchestrate the team’s moves.

In the same way, they can identify weak points in Ivory Coast’s defense, exposing shortcomings in the marking of particular regions.

The Art of Personalized Coaching Strategies

It’s important to remember that data is not a cheat code.

In the same way that throwing a random ingredient into a pot doesn’t guarantee a tasty dish, coaches must understand the significance of the numbers.

Let’s take, for example, Sofiane Boufal of Morocco, an incredible dribbler backed by the stats. However, Walid Regragui, Morocco’s coach, believes that Boufal performs best in a counterattacking system rather than a slow-passing one.

This personalized technique is VERY important.

Cameroonian Vincent Aboubakar is best when he plays straight and with towering headers, and Mohamed Salah is best when he plays complex passing triangles.

It would be like expecting a lion to climb a tree to use a one-size-fits-all data method that would confuse Salah and sideline Aboubakar!

The Nerdy Side: Passing Accuracy in AFCON

Let’s explore the nerdy side now.

Interesting data may be gathered from passing accuracy, which measures how frequently a player’s pass hits its target.

Senegal had the best passing accuracy in the 2021 AFCON with 82%, followed by Egypt with 76%.

AFCON Passing metrics for soccer players: completion rate, accuracy, distance covered, successful passes, and key passes.
AFCON 2021: The Review - Opta Analyst
Is passing correctly a sign of success?

Not always!

Despite having an excellent 64.8% pass accuracy, Ivory Coast was eliminated early in the knockout stage.

The secret? It takes more than just making every pass to strike the target.

Senegal and Egypt were accurate passers and purposeful passers who opened defenses and created scoring opportunities.

Balancing Data and Human Elements in AFCON

Coaches are given a magical deciphering ring, and players are given nearly X-ray vision as data transforms AFCON.

However, it’s critical to remember that data is a tool, not a magic wand.

In this beautiful game, the human touch—the players’ hunger, the coach’s vision, and the spectators’ thrilling energy—remains the key.

What will decide this year’s AFCON champion—loud cheers from the audience or data-driven accuracy?

We can’t wait to see who will be the next champion—a mesmerizing dance combining passion and data.

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