Football

AFCON 2021: Everything You Need to Know

AFCON 2021: Everything You Need to Know

The first major international football tournament of 2022, The Africa Cup of Nations kicks off on Sunday, January 9th, 2020 in Cameroon and will run until the 6th of February.
Tagged AFCON 2021, the tournament was earlier slated to hold in 2021 but was delayed over concerns of coronavirus and rising cases of the pandemic.

AFCON 2021

As this year’s competition takes center stage, Naija FM will be providing all the juice from Africa’s number one football tournament and it starts with this insight into the competition and its foremost teams and star players.

Tournament format and group standing

Just like it was in 2019, AFCON 2021 will feature 24 national teams. Each team is split into a group of 4participants and there are a total of 6 groups.
This means that the top 2 teams of each group will qualify for the second round, alongside the 4 best-ranked third-place teams in the competition.

Matches will hold at 14:00, 17:00, and 18:00 (all Nigerian time) for the group stages. The two latter kick-off times will be used for the knock-out round of the competition from Sunday, January 23rd.
The official football of the tournament is the Umbro Toghu, and it is named after a popular outfit designed for royalty in Cameroon.

Contenders and Dark horses for AFCON 2021

Defending champions Algeria, are one of the top teams to look out for in this year’s tournament, The North African team led by Manchester City winger Riyad Mahrez are on a 34-match unbeaten run and rank third in Africa.

Africa’s number one ranked team and last year’s runner-ups Senegal feature one of the continent’s finest footballers in Sadio Mane and a host of other stars.
Egypt will be looking to be inspired by arguably the best footballer in the world right now Mohamed Salah, who has been the star of the Premier League this season.
Ghana and Nigeria may have had an unconvincing 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign but they have been among the continent’s most successful countries in the competition and cannot be overlooked. Unfortunately, Nigeria will be missing, Victor Osimhen, Odion Ighalo, and Emmanuel Dennis who are unavailable for varying reasons.

Other countries to look out for in AFCON 2021 are Mali, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Morocco, and Tunisia.

Read also: Pep Guardiola Tests Positive as COVID 19 Hits Manchester City

Coronavirus trouble?

The pandemic has had an obvious impact on the AFCON 2021 tournament, forcing it to be delayed for a year. To prevent the spread of the virus during the event, CAF has capped attendances at 60% for most matches. The exception is for games involving host nation Cameroon, where attendance will be capped at 80% of the stadium capacity.

There are also security concerns about local militants in Limbe, a city in the southwest region of Cameroon. The armed groups are looking to form a breakaway state called Ambazonia after claiming that Anglophone regions of Cameroon have been marginalized by the French-speaking government.
Overall, it looks like it is set to be an exciting tournament and it is time for Africa once again.

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