AFCON: Should CAF Scrap third Place Matches?


Big questions have been asked about the relevance of a third place playoff in major tournaments, the African Cup of Nation is not an exception as the third place has always been regarded as mere formality and a waste of time.

If history only remembers the winner then why force two unmotivated teams to fight for a medal of little or no importance, the need for a third place encounter is only justifiable for the need to have 3rd and 4th place ranked teams.

It’s just a simple question, who remembers the third place winner? Taking the reaction of Louis van Gaal after the third place game involving Holland at the 2014 World Cup where the gaffer said, “I think this match should never be played.”

Gareth Southgate was also in agreement when he said, “The honest thing is it’s not a game any team wants to play in.”

van Gaal also noted: “In a tournament, you shouldn’t have players play a match for third or fourth place. There’s only one award that counts, and that’s being world champion.”

Walid Regragui as also noted the lack of importance ahead of Morocco’s third place clash with Croatia just last year “the worst game to play”.

“Yes, we are thinking about our FIFA ranking but it is quite difficult for us and also for you I guess as journalists because it is not really an important game is it, honestly speaking.”

If this reactions can be about the FIFA world cup that is seen as the greatest footballing tournament ever, then what makes the AFCON any different?

How many people remember who the third placed team at the 2013 AFCON was? In contrast, AFCON fans will remember Nigeria were champions at the same edition, but might be unaware that the three-time African champions have won Eight third placed games in the tournament.

Telling two teams just coming off the heart break of losing a finals’ ticket to dust themselves up and fight for a meaningless third place spot isn’t really inspiring.

If the third place finish really weighed, Gernot Rohr might have kept his Super Eagles job.

Just imagine if the gaffer had won the 2019 AFCON, he’d probably would have still held the Eagles job, because being champions is all that matters.

It’s an opportunity now for Africa to act as pacesetters and lead by example, show the big guns how to act and get rid of this demoralizing third place playoff.


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