The 2021 Africa Cup of Nations gets underway this month as 24 teams vie to become the kings of the continent. Here is everything you need to know about the 33rd edition of Afcon.
What is the Africa Cup of Nations?
Afcon is a biennial international football tournament involving the national teams of Africa. It is organized by the Confederation of African Football (CAF).
When is the Afcon 2021?
The latest edition of the tournament begins on Sunday, January 9 with the final scheduled for February 6.
Afcon 2021 has twice been rescheduled; the original dates of June-July 2021 were scrapped due to what CAF called “unfavorable climatic conditions” before the rearranged earlier slot of January-February 2021 was postponed because of the pandemic.
Where is Afcon 2021?
The tournament will be played in Cameroon. The hosts are four-time Afcon champions having most recently won the title in 2017.
Which teams are playing at Afcon 2021?
There are 24 teams competing at the tournament, separated into six groups of four. The groups are as follows:
Group A: Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Ethiopia
Group B: Senegal, Zimbabwe, Guinea, Malawi
Group C: Morocco, Ghana, Gabon, Comoros
Group D: Egypt, Nigeria, Sudan, Guinea-Bissau
Group E: Algeria, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, Equatorial Guinea
Group F: Tunisia, Mali, Gambia, Mauritania
The top two teams from each group, along with the best four third-placed teams will advance to the last 16 knockout stages
Who are some of the star players at Afcon 2021?
Afcon 2021 will see many of the world’s best footballers competing in Cameroon. The tournament hosts have Ajax No 1 Andre Onana between the sticks and Napoli’s Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa patrolling the midfield, while Group A rivals Burkina Faso’s attack will be led by Aston Villa’s Bertrand Traore.
In Group B, Senegal have several Europe-based stars in their squad, including Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, PSG midfielder Idrissa Gueye, and Liverpool forward Sadio Mane. Group rivals Guinea boast another Liverpool player in Naby Keita.
Group C top seeds Morocco are captained by Wolves defender Romain Saiss, while Ghana have Ayew brothers Andre and Jordan in their team. Gabon, meanwhile, are led by exiled Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Over in Group D, Egypt have arguably the best player in the tournament in their line-up as Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah aims to lead his nation to an eighth Afcon title. However, they face in the group a strong Nigeria side with the likes of Leicester City pair Kelechi Iheanacho and Wilfried Ndidi.
Defending champions Algeria headline Group E and can call upon Manchester City forward Riyad Mahrez, Lyon striker Islam Slimani, AC Milan midfielder Ismael Bennacer, and Galatasaray winger Sofiane Feghouli. Algeria faces a tough challenge to top the group from a stacked Ivory Coast squad, which includes Manchester United defender Eric Bailly, Milan midfielder Franck Kessie, Burnley forward Maxwell Cornet, Ajax striker Sébastien Haller, Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha, and Arsenal winger Nicolas Pepe.
Group E top seeds Tunisia boasts one of the most exciting young talents in the tournament in Manchester United midfielder Hannibal Mejbri, who will go up against Mali’s RB Leipzig midfielder Amadou Haidara.
What is the Afcon 2021 schedule?
Here is the full group schedule for Afcon 2021. All kick-off times UAE (+4 GMT).
Group stage round 1: Sunday, January 9
8pm: Cameroon v Burkina Faso / 11pm: Ethiopia v Cape Verde
Monday, January 10
5pm: Senegal v Zimbabwe / 8pm: Guinea v Malawi / 8pm: Morocco v Ghana / 11pm: Comoros v Gabon
Tuesday, January 11
5pm: Alergia v Sierra Leone / 8pm: Egypt v Nigeria / 11pm: Sudan v Guinea-Bissau
Wednesday, January 12
5pm: Tunisia v Mali / 8pm: Mauritania v Gambia / 11pm: Equatorial Guinea v Ivory Coast
Group stage round 2: Thursday, January 13
8pm: Cameroon v Ethiopia / 11pm: Cape Verde v Burkina Faso
Friday, January 14
5pm: Senegal v Guinea / 8pm: Malawi v Zimbabwe / 8pm: Morocco v Comoros / 11pm: Gabon v Ghana
Saturday, January 15
8pm: Nigeria v Sudan / 11pm: Guinea-Bissau v Egypt
Saturday, January 16
5pm: Gambia v Mali / 8pm: Tunisia v Mauritania / 8pm: Ivory Coast v Sierra Leone / 11pm: Algeria v Equatorial Guinea
Group stage round 3: Friday, January 17
8pm: Burkina Faso v Ethiopia / Cameroon v Cape Verde
Saturday, January 18
8pm: Malawi v Senegal / Zimbabwe v Guinea / 11pm: Gabon v Morocco / Ghana v Comoros
11pm: Guinea-Bissau v Nigeria / Egypt v Sudan
Monday, January 20
8pm: Sierra Leone v Equatorial Guinea / Ivory Coast v Algeria / 11pm: Gambia v Tunisia / Mali v Mauritania
Round of 16: January 23-26
Quarter-finals: January 29-30
Semi-finals: February 2-3
Third-place playoff: February 6
Final: February 6
How to watch Afcon 2021?
Afcon 2021 matches will be broadcast live on DSTV, BEIN SPORTS, etc..