Africa Cup of Nations – Preview

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The 33rd edition of the Africa Cup of Nations gets underway on Sunday 9 January with hosts, Cameroon, kicking the tournament off against Burkina Faso in Yaoundé. This is one of the most competitive and wide-open competitions in world football, with five different nations winning the last five editions of the tournament.

Some of the greatest players in the world are set to be on display again with Premier League stars, Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, and Riyad Mahrez, all likely to feature for the respective nations.

Could we see another Algeria v Senegal final?

The two countries who met in the last final in 2019, when Algeria beat Senegal 1-0, are favourites again this time. That was Algeria’s second title in this tournament, but it meant Senegal are still waiting to lift this famous trophy.

Senegal have the firepower of Liverpool star, Sadio Mane, to get them the goals they hope will take them all the way, and they should have no problems qualifying from a group that contains Guinea, Malawi, and Zimbabwe.

Manchester City winger, Riyad Mahrez, will carry the main threat for Algeria who have been in good form heading into the tournament with an unbeaten run in World Cup qualifying. They too should have no issues getting out of their group, which contains Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone.

Can the hosts secure a sixth Africa Cup of Nations title?

During the 1980s, Cameroon were the most dominant force in African football winning the competition twice during that decade in 1984 and 1988. They were also the first African nation to reach the quarter-finals of a World Cup, before losing to England after extra time in 1990.

The last time they lifted this trophy was in 2017, when they surprisingly defeated Egypt 2-1 in the finaland their hopes will rest on Bayern Munich striker, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, and Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana, who is recognised as one of the best in the tournament.

Can the most successful nation win again?

Egypt’s dominance of the competition between 2006 and 2010, when they lifted the trophy on three consecutive occasions, has made them the most successful country in the Africa Cup of Nations with seven tournament wins. However, they have not won it since and will hope goals from Mo Salah can inspire them to an eighth Africa Cup of Nations success.

Gambia and the Comoros Islands make Africa Cup of Nations debut

Gambia and the Comoros Islands will make their first appearance in the competition. Gambia qualified impressively, finishing top of their group, which featured teams such as Gabon and DR Congo.

Meanwhile, Comoros qualified by finishing second in their qualifying group behind Egypt, with much of their squad playing their club football in France.

The African Cup of Nations draw 

Group A: Cameroon (hosts), Burkina Faso, Cape Verde Islands, Ethiopia

Group B: Guinea, Malawi, Senegal, Zimbabwe

Group C: Comoros Islands, Gabon, Ghana, Morocco

Group D: Egypt, Guinea Bissau, Nigeria, Sudan

Group E: Algeria, Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone

Group F: Gambia, Mali, Mauritania, Tunisia

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