The AFCON is Africa’s most prestigious competition, with 24 teams competing to be king of the continent.
After being postponed for a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Africa Cup of Nations will resume in January 2022, with superstars like Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, and Riyad Mahrez expected to compete.
The 2021 Africa Cup of Nations kicks off this month, and below is everything you need to know about the 33rd AFCON edition.
When Does AFCON 2021 Begin and End?
The Africa Cup of Nations 2021 will take place from January 9, 2022, to February 6, 2022.
Afcon 2021 has been rescheduled twice, with the initial dates of June-July 2021 being rescheduled due to “unfavorable meteorological circumstances” and the rescheduled earlier slot of January-February 2021 being postponed due to the pandemic.
Also, due to sponsorship issues, the event will be known as AFCON 2021 rather than AFCON 2022, just as the European Championships were known as Euro 2020 even though they were held a year later in 2021.
Who’s Hosting AFCON 2021?
AFCON 2021 will be hosted by Cameroon. The opening and closing matches are expected to hold at the 60,000 capacity Olembe Stadium. Matches will be played in at least six venues across five different cities in Cameroon, including Olembe Stadium and Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo in Yaounde, the Japoma Stadium in Douala, the Limbe Stadium in Limbe, the Kouekong Stadium in Bafoussam and the Roumde Adjia Stadium in Garoua.
Which Teams are Playing at the AFCON 2021?
There are 24 teams competing at the tournament categorised into six groups of four.
Group A: Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Ethiopia
Group B: Senegal, Zimbabwe, Guinea, Malawi
Group C: Morocco, Ghana, Gabon, Comoros
Group D: Egypt, Nigeria, Sudan, Guinea-Bissau
Group E: Algeria, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, Equatorial Guinea
Group F: Tunisia, Mali, Gambia, Mauritania
The top two teams from each group, along with the best four third-placed teams will advance to the last 16 knockout stages.
Who is the AFCON Defending Champions?
Defending champions Algeria won the last AFCON in 2019 where they defeated Senegal by a lone goal scored by Baghdad Bounedjah in the second minute.
Super Star Players to Expect at AFCON 2021?
AFCON 2021 will see many of the world’s best footballers competing in Cameroon. Let’s look at the stars in each group of the tournament.
The tournament hosts have Ajax No 1 Andre Onana between the sticks and Napoli’s Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa patrolling the midfield, while Group A rivals Burkina Faso’s attack will be led by Aston Villa’s Bertrand Traore.
Senegal has several Europe-based stars lined up including Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, PSG midfielder Idrissa Gueye, and Liverpool forward Sadio Mane. Group rivals, Guinea, boast another Liverpool player in Naby Keita.
Top seeds Morocco are captained by Wolves defender Romain Saiss, while Ghana has the Ayew brothers, Andre and Jordan, in their team. Gabon, meanwhile, is led by exiled Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Egypt has arguably the best player in the tournament in their line-up as Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah aims to lead his nation to an eighth AFCON title. However, they face in the group a strong Nigeria side with the likes of Leicester City pair Kelechi Iheanacho and Wilfried Ndidi.
Defending champions Algeria headline group E and can call upon Manchester City forward Riyad Mahrez, Lyon striker Islam Slimani, AC Milan midfielder Ismael Bennacer, and Galatasaray winger Sofiane Feghouli. Algeria faces a tough challenge to top the group from a stacked Ivory Coast squad, which includes Manchester United defender Eric Bailly, Milan midfielder Franck Kessie, Burnley forward Maxwel Cornet, Ajax striker Sébastien Haller, Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha, and Arsenal winger Nicolas Pepe.
Top seeds Tunisia boast one of the most exciting young talents in the tournament in Manchester United midfielder Hannibal Mejbri, who will go up against Mali’s RB Leipzig midfielder Amadou Haidara.
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