The Africa Cup of Nations is one of the most highly anticipated sporting events in the continent’s calendar each time it rolls around and we look set to have another fascinating tournament in 2022.
Delayed a year due to the restrictions set from the pandemic, fans have had to be patient in waiting for this tournament to roll around but will see African teams competing in two major tournaments in the same calendar year with the World Cup approaching.
There are a number of teams that will fancy their chances of success in the competition, including defending champions Algeria. They defeated Senegal in the 2019 final and were drawn into Pot One as a result of their previous success.
Cameroon are this year’s host nation and they too have a talented team featuring players from some of the top leagues in European football. The timing of the tournament may be disruptive to those particular clubs, but the players involved are all desperate to bring success to their respective countries in this continental celebration of football.
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2021 Africa Cup of Nations Draw
The draw for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations group stages has already taken place and it has thrown up a number of intriguing early match-ups. 24 teams will compete in the group stages for 16 knockout places, with the top two teams from each group progressing automatically while the four highest-ranked third-placed teams will also earn a spot in the next phase of the competition.
This will be the second time the 24-team format has been used in the competition’s history and the inclusion of the additional eight teams was considered a resounding success last time out.
The groups for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations were drawn as follows:
Group A – Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Cape Verde
Group B – Senegal, Zimbabwe, Guinea, Malawi
Group C – Morocco, Ghana, Comoros, Gabon
Group D – Nigeria, Egypt, Sudan, Guinea-Bissau
Group E – Algeria, Sierra Leone, Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast
Group F – Tunisia, Mali, Mauritania, Gambia
Africa Cup of Nations Contenders
Algeria are the defending champions after defeating Senegal 1-0 in the final thanks to Baghdad Bounedjah’s winning goal in the second minute. They are one of the favourites to win the competition once again with a team that is spearheaded by Riyad Mahrez, Islam Slimani and Ismaël Bennacer, who won player of the tournament last time around.
It was Algeria’s second victory in the history of the competition, though they are a long way behind Egypt’s record haul of seven wins. With Mohamed Salah in their team Egypt have every chance to make it to the latter stages of the tournament, just as they did when they reached the final in 2017.
At the time of writing, Senegal are the highest-ranked team in the competition and have a fearsome attacking lineup including Sadio Mane and Ismaila Sarr, as well as the steel provided in midfield from Idrissa Gueye.
Tunisia, Morocco and Nigeria make up the rest of pot one and all will believe that they can go all the way in the competition.