Host nation Cameroon (The Indomitable Lions) kick off the 33rd African Cup of Nations on Sunday, 9 January 2022 against the Stallions of Burkina Faso with the aim of reaching the final on February 6th, like the other favourites, Algeria, the defending champion or Senegal which still hopes for its first title.
According to experts of African Football, Algeria, Cameroon, Egypt And Senegal are favourites to win AFCON. The African Cup of Nations is the biggest football tournament in Africa, and every qualified team wish to win for their nation.
The Indomitable Lions, and five-time champions who were recrowned in 2017, are the favorites in this group. They will have the advantage of playing in stadiums that are 80 percent full, as opposed to 60 percent for the other matches in the tournament. Cape Verde’s “Stopira” (Ianique dos Santos Tavares) and “Platini” (Luis Carlos Almada Soares) trail, as does Burkina Faso’s Bertrand Traoré. Coincidentally, the Blue Sharks of Cape Verde (quarter-finals) and the Stallions of Burkina Faso (final) both had their best performances in CAN-2013. Ethiopia, which was victorious in 1962 despite being in the midst of civil war, is no longer a tenor. This is only her third appearance in 40 years.
The Senegalese Teranga Lions and their golden squad (Édouard Mendy, Kalidou Koulibaly, Sadio Mane) arrive in Cameroon as heavy favourites, a little forced to win to quench an eternal thirst. The first round should not slow down Aliou Cissé’s men, who are better on paper than Guinea, who replaced Didier Six with Kaba Diawara a month before the tournament. Lyonnais Tino Kadewere’s Zimbabwe, without his two other stars, Marsall Munetsi (Reims) and Marvelous Nakamba (Aston Villa), is injured, and modest Malawi appears a notch below.
The Atlas Lions of Morocco led by Vahid Halilhodzic appears to be the best armed, with Parisian Achraf Hakimi and his Sevillian trio of goalkeeper Yassine Bounou and forwards Munir El Haddadi and Youssef En-Nesyri, but he is drawn in the first round’s densest group. The “Atlas Lions,” one of the favourites, will face Ghana, four-time winner of the CAN and still a contender. The Comoros, one of the two newcomers, will be one of the tournament’s highlights. The Panthers of Gabon, the last residents of Group C, have lost their bite following the positive tests of their stars Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mario Lemina on Thursday. Not to write off the name of Zimbabwe.
Group D will begin with a ten-CAN shock between Nigeria (3 titles) and Egypt in Garoua, northern Cameroon (7 titles). The “Super Eagles,” who thanked their coach Gernot Rohr four weeks before the game, are missing Victor Osimhen, who was blocked by the Covid in Naples, but they remain a formidable force. The “Pharaohs” rely on Mohamed Salah, one of the best players in the world (Liverpool). Guinea-Bissau and Sudan, which both received Hervé Velud at the same time as Rohr, are vying for the role of hen’s outsider.
Group E, featuring the defending champion, Algeria’s Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City), are one of the favourites, the Ivory Coast’s Sébastien Haller, the Champions League’s top scorer. The third and final match will be between the “Greens” and the “Elephants.”
Sierra Leone can be a surprise in the group, likewise, Equatorial Guinea, which qualified after two CAN as organsers..
The Carthage Eagles of Tunisia and Mali’s Eagles are the tips in Group F, as they have high pedigree in Africn Football than Mauritania, who are making their second appearance, and Gambia, who are debutants.
Wahbi Khazri’s Tunisia was a semi-finalist three years ago and will be there. Mali also has a strong labor force with Hamari Traoré (Rennes) and Amadou Hadara (Leipzig). However, the powerful Moussa Marega, better known as Moussa Marega since 2019, prefers his club, Al-Hilal, in Saudi Arabia, much like Cheick Doucouré with Lens. However, those who are absent are always wrong, and almost all of Africa’s stars will be in Cameroon.
By Matthew Agyei