The 33rd edition of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) is one of the most awaited football tournaments ever. It’s a biennial international football championship for male players in Africa. This year’s event is sponsored by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and the French energy firm TotalEnergies.
The dates for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations were shifted due to the pandemic. First shifting the tournament from June and July 2021 to January and February. Then the CAF decided to postpone the tournament to January 2022. Needless to say, the changing dates have created confusion but also anticipation.
A Brief History
AFCON was first launched in 1957. It was only starting in 1968 that it became a biennial event. The first AFCON championship hosted only three nations: Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia. South Africa intended to take part but Apartheid disqualified them. Since then, the Africa Cup of Nations has grown. In 1998 the tournament expanded to 16 and 24 teams in 2017. The tournament today has its own qualifying tournament.
Egypt – Top Participating Team
Amongst the nations that have taken part in AFCO, Egypt stands out. Egypt has dominated the tournament with 5 past wins. Today, Egypt still holds dominance over the Africa Cup of Nations. However, recently other strong competitors have come from Morocco, Algeria, and Ghana.
Egypt boasts one of the continent’s best individual players: Mohammed Salah. In addition to captaining the Egyptian team, he’s also a forward for Premier League club Liverpool. Salah is popular around the globe. He is a particular favorite of fans in the Middle East. Salah boasts an impressive reputation within the football betting community of the Middle East. Arabic-speaking bettors consider him to be one of the best players in the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.
Salah’s popularity isn’t only for his incredible play. He is also new hope for many young talented middle eastern footballers. He shows his large public that there’s always a way to reach a dream.
There is a reason Mohammed Salah is predicted to lead his nation to a championship. His brilliant performances with AS Roma and with Liverpool FC prove his talent. His accolades include Professional Footballers Association Player of the Year in (20-20) and Football Writers Association Footballer of the Year (18-19).
The pandemic had an effect on the qualification for the tournament. The tournament was originally scheduled between 9 January and 6 February 2021. The third and fourth match days scheduled for 23-31 March and 1 June 2020 are postponed until after the pandemic. Finally, the CAF released the new dates for the 2021 AFCON. The final tournament is scheduled to complete by 31 March 2021.
The first nation to qualify was the host country Cameroon on 8 January 2019. Followed by those that qualified in November: Senegal, Algeria, Mali, and Tunisia. The next wave of qualifiers came in March 2021. Burkina Faso, Guinea, Comoros, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Equatorial Guinea, and Egypt will all take part. Sierra Leone was the last nation to qualify on 15 June 2021.
As you can see, the AFCON involves a significant number of nations. The competition for the prestigious award will be fierce.
The 24 teams will be drawn into six groups of four teams each for a single-round robin. Each group will send the top two teams to the next round. The four best-ranked third-place teams will also move on to the round of 16.
The round of 16 will proceed to the quarter-finals. From there the winner will advance to the semi-final match. Once at this stage, the winning teams will play the final match, while the losers will compete in a third-place match.
Locations And Venues
Considering the size of the tournament, six different venues in Cameroon will host matches. The opening and final matches will take place in a newly built stadium in Yaoundé. The Olembe Stadium, as it is called, will seat 60,000 spectators. Other matches will be hosted around Cameroon.
The Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo in Yaoundé, the Japoma Stadium in Douala, the Limbe Stadium in Limbe, the Kouekong Stadium in Bafoussam, and the Roumde Adjia Stadium in Garoua will all be part of the tournament.
Millions of football fans are anticipating the first match between Cameroon and Burkina Faso on 6 January 2022. Thousands of fervent fans in the Middle east are also waiting for the opening event to place their best bets.