African Cup of Nations: All you need to know about AFCON 2021

The tournament will be contested by 24 teams with Algeria being the defending champion after winning the title in 2019. 

Mr. Narcisse Mouelle Kombi, Minister of Sports and Physical Education of Cameroon presents the Africa Cup of Nations trophy.

Mr. Narcisse Mouelle Kombi, Minister of Sports and Physical Education of Cameroon presents the Africa Cup of Nations trophy.   -  AFP

The Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) is the first major international event of the football calendar in 2022 and is being hosted by Cameroon.

The tournament was initially supposed to take place in June 2021. The Confederation of African Football (CAF) then announced that due to unfavourable climatic conditions in Cameroon during this period, the tournament would take place from 9 January to 6 February 2021.

On June 30, 2020, the CAF postponed the tournament to January 2022 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The tournament will be contested by 24 teams with Algeria being the defending champion after winning the title in 2019. 

RELATED: AFCON: Virus cases for Egypt, more problems for Gabon

Groups and Teams:

  • Group A: Cameroon (host), Burkina Faso, Cape Verde Islands, Ethiopia 
  • Group B: Guinea, Malawi, Senegal, Zimbabwe 
  • Group C: Comoros Island, Gabon, Ghana, Morocco 
  • Group D: Egypt, Guinea Bissau, Nigeria, Sudan 
  • Group E: Algeria, Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone 
  • Group F: Gambia, Mali, Mauritania, Tunisia

Format of the Tournament

There are 24 teams divided into six groups of four each. The top two will qualify for the last-16 alongside the four best-ranked third-placed sides.

When and where it is taking place?

The nation of Cameroon is hosting this edition of the AFCON. The tournament starts on January 9 and the first match will be played between the host country and Burkina Faso. The final will be played on February 7. 

Venues

The six venues selected to host the matches are:

  • The Olembe Stadium and the Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo in the capital, Yaounde.
  • The Japoma Stadium in Douala.
  • The Limbe Stadium in Limbe.
  • The Kouekong Stadium in Bafoussam.
  • The Roumde Adjia Stadium in Garoua. 

The opening match between Cameroon and Burkina Faso and the final will take place at the newly-built Olembe Stadium.

RELATED: Cup of Nations kicks off under COVID cloud

Teams to look out for  

Algeria: The current champion Algeria is one of the favourites to win the competition. Fresh from winning the FIFA Arab Cup, the Riyad-Mahrez led side is on a 34-match unbeaten streak and is highly likely to break Italy's record of 37 unbeaten matches. Apart from Mahrez, Youcef Atal and Ramy Bensebaini are some of the key players in the squad. Algeria has two AFCON titles. 

Senegal: Senegal has been Africa's top-ranked side in the last three years and will be boosted by the presence of Sadio Mane. Runner-up in 2019, Aliou Cisse's team can pose a serious title challenge if they play as a unit. They have a strong presence between the sticks in Edouard Mendy. Players like Kalidou Koulibaly and Idrissa Gana Gueye will be significant presences in the backline and midfield. The team will be keen to bag its first AFCON title. 

Egypt: Record seven-time winner Egypt will be looking to add to its impressive tally and the fact that they are backed by Mohamed Salah who is enjoying a great season with Liverpool, makes their case even stronger to go deep into the tournament. Apart from Salah, the Pharaohs are backed by a tactically astute coach in Carlos Quieroz. 

Cameroon: Cameroon boasts of five titles and will be looking to make it six on home soil. A team characterised by grit, it boasts of talented players like Andre Onana, Karl Toko Ekambi and Vincent Aboubakar. 

Where to watch the African Cup of Nations 2021 live in India?

The African Cup of Nations 2021 will be telecast live on the Sony Six and Sony ESPN SD and HD TV channels in India from Sunday, January 9. Coverage will begin from 9.30 PM.

Full schedule of AFCON 2021

Group-stage fixtures

Sunday January 9

  • Group A: Cameron vs Burkina Faso, 9:30 pm, Olembe Stadium, Yaounde

Monday January 10

  • Group A: Ethiopia vs Cape Verde, 12:30 pm, Olembe Stadium, Yaounde
  • Group B: Senegal vs Zimbabwe, 6:30 pm, Kouekong Stadium, Bafoussam
  • Group B: Guinea vs Malawi, 9:30 pm, Kouekong Stadium, Bafoussam
  • Group C: Morocco vs Ghana, 9:30 pm, Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo, Yaounde

Tuesday January 11

  • Group C: Comoros vs Gabon, 12:30 am, Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo, Yaounde
  • Group E: Algeria vs Sierra Leone, 6:30 pm, Japoma Stadium, Douala
  • Group D: Nigeria vs Egypt, 9:30 pm, Roumde Adjia Stadium, Garoua

Wednesday January 12

  • Group D: Sudan vs Guinea-Bissau, 12:30 am, Roumde Adjia Stadium, Garoua
  • Group F: Tunisia vs Mali, 6:30 pm, Limbe Stadium, Limbe
  • Group F: Mauritania vs Gambia, 9:30 pm, Limbe Stadium, Limbe

Thursday January 13

  • Group E: Equatorial Guinea vs Ivory Coast, 12:30 am, Japoma Stadium, Douala
  • Group A: Cameroon vs Ethiopia, 9:30 pm, Olembe Stadium, Yaounde

Friday January 14

  • Group A: Cape Verde vs Burkina Faso, 12:30 am, Olembe Stadium, Yaounde
  • Group B: Senegal vs Guinea, 6:30 pm, Kouekong Stadium, Bafoussam)
  • Group B: Malawi vs Zimbabwe, 9:30 pm, Kouekong Stadium, Bafoussam)
  • Group C: Morocco vs Comoros, 9:30 pm, Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo, Yaounde

Saturday January 15

  • Group C: Gabon vs Ghana, 12:30 am, Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo, Yaounde
  • Group D: Nigeria vs Sudan, 9:30 pm, Roumde Adjia Stadium, Garoua

Sunday January 16

  • Group D: Guinea-Bissau vs Egypt, 12:30 am, Roumde Adjia Stadium, Garoua
  • Group F: Gambia vs Mali, 6:30 pm, Limbe Stadium, Limbe
  • Group E: Ivory Coast vs Sierra Leone, 9:30 pm, Japoma Stadium, Douala
  • Group F: Tunisia vs Mauritania, 9:30 pm, Limbe Stadium, Limbe

Monday January 17

  • Group E: Algeria vs Equatorial Guinea, 12:30 am, Japoma Stadium, Douala
  • Group A: Burkina Faso vs Ethiopia, 9:30 pm, Kouekong Stadium, Bafoussam
  • Group A: Cape Verde vs Cameroon, 9:30 pm, Olembe Stadium, Yaounde

Tuesday January 18

  • Group B: Malawi vs Senegal, 9:30 pm, Kouekong Stadium, Bafoussam
  • Group B: Zimbabwe vs Guinea, 9:30 pm, Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo, Yaounde

Wednesday January 19

  • Group C: Gabon vs Morocco, 12:30 am, Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo, Yaounde
  • Group C: Ghana vs Comoros, 12:30 am, Roumde Adjia Stadium, Garoua

Thursday January 20

  • Group D: Egypt vs Sudan, 12:30 am, Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo, Yaounde
  • Group D: Guinea-Bissau vs Nigeria, 12:30 am, Roumde Adjia Stadium, Garoua
  • Group E: Ivory Coast vs Algeria, 9:30 pm, Japoma Stadium, Douala
  • Group E: Sierra Leone vs Equatorial Guinea, 9:30 pm, Limbe Stadium, Limbe

Friday January 21

  • Group F: Gambia vs Tunisia, 7pm, Limbe Stadium, Limbe
  • Group F: Mali vs Mauritania, 7pm, Japoma Stadium, Douala

Round-of-16 fixtures

Sunday January 23

  • Group A runner-up vs Group C runner-up, 9:30 pm, Limbe Stadium, Limbe

Monday January 24

  • Group D winner vs Group B/E/F third-place, 12:30 am, Roumde Adjia Stadium, Garoua
  • Group B runner-up vs Group F runner-up, 9:30 pm, Kouekong Stadium, Bafoussam

Tuesday January 25

  • Group A winner vs Group C/D/E third-place, 12:30 am Olembe Stadium, Yaounde
  • Group B winner vs Group A/C/D third-place, 9:30 pm, Kouekong Stadium, Bafoussam

Wednesday January 26

  • Group C winner vs Group A/B/F third-place, 12:30 am, Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo, Yaounde
  • Group E winner vs Group D runner-up, 9:30 pm, Japoma Stadium, Douala

Thursday January 27

  • Group F winner vs Group E runner-up, 7pm, Limbe Stadium, Limbe

Quarterfinal fixtures

Saturday January 29

  • Quarter-final 1: Round-of-16 game 4 winner vs Round-of-16 game 3 winner, 9:30 pm, Japoma Stadium, Douala

Sunday January 30

  • Quarter-final 2: Round-of-16 game 1 winner vs Round-of-16 game 2 winner, 12:30 am, Roumde Adjia Stadium, Garoua
  • Quarter-final 3: Round-of-16 game 7 winner vs Round-of-16 game 6 winner, 9:30 pm, Olembe Stadium, Yaounde

Monday January 31

  • Quarter-final 4: Round-of-16 game 5 winner vs Round-of-16 game 8 winner, 12:30 am

Semifinal fixtures

Thursday February 3

  • Semi-final 1: Quarter-final 1 winner vs Quarter-final 4 winner, 12:30 am, Japoma Stadium, Douala

Friday February 4

  • Semi-final 2: Quarter-final 2 winner vs Quarter-final 3 winner, 7pm, Olembe Stadium, Yaounde

Third-place match

Sunday February 6

  • Semi-final 1 loser vs Semi-final 2 loser, 9:30 pm (Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo, Yaounde)

Final

Sunday February 7

  • Semi-final 1 winner vs Semi-final 2 winner, 12:30 am, Olembe Stadium, Yaounde
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