After several fears and uncertainty, the TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2021 will finally kick off today in Yaounde, Cameroon.
The excitement in Cameroon right from the airports and the cities is huge as locals are excited and ready to grace the beautiful game of football during this 33rd Edition of the AFCON.
Sorry, the Uganda Cranes will this time miss out because they were not good enough to be part of the 24 teams that will battle it out in Africa’s biggest football showpiece that runs from January 9th to February 6th in five different towns.
But the Council of East and Central African Football Associations (CECAFA) will be represented by Ethiopia and Sudan. Five-time winners of the AFCON Cameroon will start this campaign with a Group A match against Burkina Faso this afternoon at the Olembe Stadium, then Ethiopia will take on Cape Verde at the same Stadium in a second match.
Moses Hassim Magogo, the FUFA President, MP Budiope East who is also an Executive Member of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) will also attend the opening ceremony in Yaounde. Prime Minister of Cameroon Joseph Dion Ngute has made it clear that they are well prepared to host a successful tournament.
Because of the challenges of COVID-19 and already with some teams having their players and staff test positive, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) will also allow five substitutions per match.
“ If the result of the COVID-19 PCR test of any player is positive, such player will not be authorized to go to the stadium or participate in the applicable match,” said CAF.
According to the rules, a team will be required to play a match if they have a minimum of eleven (11) players available, and if a does not have a minimum of eleven (11) players available will be considered to have lost the match 0-2. Out of the 24 teams that will battle it out in the AFCON 2021, ten of them that have won the title before include; Egypt, Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria, Algeria, Côte d’Ivoire, Morocco, Ethiopia, Sudan and Tunisia
The 24 teams have been divided into six pools and action will take place in five cities Limbe-Buea, Douala and Yaoundé, Garoua and Bafoussam. Group A is made up of hosts Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde and Ethiopia. Group B is comprised of 2019 runners-up Senegal, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Guinea. While Group C will see 1976 winners Morocco, four times winners Ghana, debutants Comoros and Gabon to fight for places in the knockout stages.
Group D is one of the most prestigious in the tournament with eleven AFCON winning medals between the four teams. Seven-time record winners Egypt, three-time winners Nigeria, 1970 champions Sudan and minnows Guineas-Bissau complete the Garoua based Group.
In Group E, defending champions Algeria, 1992 and 2015 winners Côte d’Ivoire will seek to show their supremacy over Equatorial Guinea and Sierra Leone. In Limbe, 2004 winners Tunisia, 1972 runners-up when Cameroon hosted the tournament 50 years ago, Mali, newcomers Gambia and the Chinguetti Lions of Mauritania will fight for the top spots in Group F.