Odds favour Egypt but Cameroon has wings
Afcon 2017 has been quite a rollercoaster and now fasten your seat belts, Egypt v Cameroon will be a humdinger.
So who will win tonight? Egypt or Cameroon? I refused to make a prediction this time around despite famously correctly predicting Zambia and Nigeria will win Afcon 2012 and Afcon 2013 respectively.
I had observed two years ago that both Zambia and Nigeria won after 19 years of Zambia's ill-fated plane crash in Gabon (1993) and Nigeria's Afcon 1994 win in Tunisia.
I then wondered if South Africa could follow the same logic at Equatorial Guinea for Afcon 2015 and expectations were high after I blogged about it. Ivory Coast won after South Africa crashed out of the group stage losing all three games despite scoring first in each game.
This year, the same thought crossed my mind and I resisted the urge to blog about it when after subtracting 19 from 2017, it landed at Bukina Faso 1998 or Afcon 98 where Egypt beat South Africa.
This was becoming really uncanny and I can't help myself. It looks like the 19-year bug is really playing up again with Egypt written in the Stars.
Egypt and Cameroon have met twice before in an Afcon finals with Egypt winning on both occasions.
They won on penalties in 1986 as hosts and also 1-0 in Ghana 2008 so will come into this game with a psychological edge but even they will not be thinking what I am thinking. What I think about every Afcon year since 2012 in Gabon. Yes Gabon!
I am now thinking aloud once again even with less than two hours to kickoff again in Gabon . An Egypt win will mean that perhaps Afcon circles have really been affected by something unnatural. The invisible power of nineteen.
Could South Africa have won two years ago? I really felt they had a good momentum going to Equatorial Guinea.
However perhaps if they didn't lose Senzo Meyiwa? If Shakes Mashaba wasn't shuffling Keepers? What if they could hold on to their leads in every game? Maybe I am just making excuses for raising so much expectations.
Will an Egypt win mean Cameroon will win in 2019 when they will qualify as hosts? That will also be 19 years after they won Afcon 2000 but that will be in two years time so lets keep that thought for now.
Egypt have been unbeaten in the last four tournaments they have qualified for winning back to back championships in 2006, 2008 and 2010 and failing to qualify for 2012, 2013 and 2015.
They have battled their way to the finals like it was their birth right and especially when you see 44-year-old goalkeeper El Hadari you wonder if it's not.
Both countries missed out of the Afcon 2012 finals in Gabon five years ago and indeed a year later in South Africa when Nigeria won so it wasn't a surprise no one gave them a chance of making the finals here in Libreville despite having the best record in the tournament history.
A win for Egypt will extend their lead at the top to eight titles and double second placed duo of Cameroon and Ghana with four each while Cameroon will become undisputed second with five titles if they win.
While my fantasies seem to get the better of me, I really think Cameroon can burst their bubble. They have outdone themselves with how they have navigated their way to the finals especially against the hosts, Gabon and in that dramatic semifinals against Ghana.
I wouldn't bet against the Indomitable Lions who have won every finals at Afcon, four out of six with both losses coming against Egypt.
Everything points to Egypt but Cameroon are not called the Indomitable Lions for nothing.