AFCON 2021 preview: What should we look out for in Cameroon? Who are the tournament favourites?

The menace of the resurgent coronavirus will hold closely over the Africa Cup of Nations when it opens on Sunday in Cameroon.

Organisers are urgent forward with the month-long championship, which options 24 groups, from defending champions Algeria in the far north of the continent to the tiny island nation of Comoros out in the Indian Ocean.

It is the first AFCON in the pandemic period. With the assist of award-winning African soccer journalist Usher Komugisha, Sky Sports takes a look at the key issues to look out for over the coming weeks.

  • Sky Sports to indicate all AFCON 2021 video games
  • Which gamers might miss PL & Scottish video games?
  • AFCON fixtures and outcomes | Tables

Sky Sports to indicate AFCON reside

The Africa Cup of Nations tournament might be broadcast reside on Sky Sports in January and February.

Why is the tournament taking place now?

This Africa Cup of Nations was scheduled to be performed in 2021 and a year-long delay due to the pandemic hasn’t actually achieved that a lot.

The tournament will go forward with virus instances surging once more round the world, pushed this time by the omicron variant. Because of that, solely followers who are totally vaccinated and may present proof of a unfavourable virus check might be allowed into any of the six stadiums in 5 host cities to look at video games.

In a rustic like Cameroon, the place lower than 3 per cent of the inhabitants of 26 million are totally vaccinated, solely a small minority of individuals are subsequently eligible to witness the tournament first-hand.

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Claudio Ranieri insists Watford haven’t disrespected the Africa Cup of Nations after it was confirmed that Emmanuel Dennis is not going to be a part of Nigeria’s squad at the tournament.

On prime of that, crowds might be restricted to 60 per cent of a stadium’s capability, or 80 per cent for video games involving host nation Cameroon.

Also See:

  • Sky Sports to indicate all AFCON 2021 video games
  • Get Sky Sports
  • Which gamers might miss PL & Scottish video games?
  • AFCON group tables

There’s a risk that many video games might be at near-empty stadiums, though that is not new for AFCON.

The build-up has seen virus outbreaks in lots of the groups heading to Cameroon. The Confederation of African Football and native authorities have a big problem on their palms to make sure the virus does not overwhelm the occasion.

Who are the tournament favourites?

Algeria beat Senegal 1-0 to win the 2019 tournament

Algeria are the defending champions and have gone 40 video games unbeaten since 2018, though a few of these had been friendlies.

Still, it is a outstanding report and places the North Africans, captained by Manchester City ahead Riyad Mahrez, at the prime of the record in relation to favourites for the title.

Komugisha advised Sky Sports: “I would still say Algeria and Senegal have strong chances of winning. It will be interesting to see if Algeria can continue their unbeaten run – but their group is not that complicated.

“They’ve acquired Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone. Ivory Coast might be the massive one as they beat them on penalties at the quarter-final stage in 2019. It might be a revenge sport for Ivory Coast however Algeria have the high quality to go all the approach.

“They won the FIFA Arab Cup in Doha only last month so they have plenty of experience.

“They have round 12 gamers who performed in Qatar so that may assist them and so they beat Ghana 3-0 in a pleasant a number of days in the past. It was a robust Ghana facet that included Thomas Partey and the Ayew brothers so it was a formidable end result.

“Mahrez isn’t even their best player – he’s not even number five on that list. They have other engines in the team: Islam Slimani is the country’s all-time leading scorer, Youcef Belaili, Ismael Bennacer, who was the MVP for the 2019 edition, and Baghdad Bounedjah.

“These gamers are much more essential for Algeria than Mahrez however clearly he is acquired to convey the magic from the Premier League.”

Who might problem Algeria?

Sadio Mane walks previous the trophy in 2019

Komugisha advised Sky Sports: “You’ve then got Senegal – hello? They’ve got Sadio Mane, Edouard Mendy and Kalidou Koulibaly at the back. They’re coming into this tournament looking very solid.

“They’ve acquired in a whole lot of expertise over the previous few years and the indisputable fact that Aliou Cisse is the supervisor is attention-grabbing.

“He was part of the team in 2000 when Senegal lost the final to Cameroon and to Samuel Eto’o, so now he’s going back to Cameroon to face his nemesis. Senegal also lost to Cameroon in 2017 on penalties in the quarter-finals so there’s a lot of strong blood there for Senegal.

“Egypt are the group who’ve mastered the artwork of successful AFCON in Sub-Saharan Africa. Only Morocco have managed that in 1976 in any other case North African groups wrestle once they go to Sub-Saharan Africa.”

Who are the darkish horses?

Samuel Eto'o was a part of the Cameroon facet that beat Senegal in 2000

“It’s not fair to call the host team a dark horse, but I do feel that in this case Cameroon are not outright favourites to win the tournament.

“Cameroon are unbeaten in Yaounde since 1988, which can host the remaining. You’re speaking a couple of 34-year report which could be very lengthy when you concentrate on it.

“They’ve got goalkeeper Andre Onana who is coming back from his suspension [he was suspended for 12 months by UEFA after he failed a doping test in October 2020],and he’s very excited.

“He lately gave an interview to the Players’ Tribune in which he stated that he did not develop up dreaming of eager to play in Old Trafford however as a substitute dreamt of enjoying for Cameroon in Yaounde. For him, that is private and I really feel he might be a stand-out participant for Cameroon.

“Vincent Aboubakar is still in the squad having scored the winner in the final against Egypt in 2017 when they were tipped by fans not to get out of the group stages.

“Clinton Njie, previously of Tottenham, has scored six of his 10 objectives for his nation in Cameroon. You find out about Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa from his time in the Premier League. He is now at Napoli and is seen as certainly one of the finest box-to-box gamers in the African continent. They’ll be a menace.”

Do Nigeria have an opportunity?

Watford is not going to permit Emmanuel Dennis to play

Komugisha advised Sky Sports: “Absolutely, they have a small chance. They play now without Odion Ighalo, Victor Osimhen is injured, there’s no Emmanuel Dennis as we all know and they’ve had Covid issues. But they still have a small chance as they’ve still got good players.

“Their coach Augustine Eguavoen is a legend who gained the AFCON as a participant and was a part of the squad at the 1994 World Cup in USA. They’ve made it to the semi-finals greater than another nation in order that they at all times discover a approach of performing.

“Nigeria has a very big rivalry with Cameroon – maybe you could compare it to England vs Scotland! They’re neighbours so Nigeria really want to come to win AFCON in Cameroon. It would be historic.”

Will VAR be used?

2019 Africa Cup of Nations draw in Egypt

The Video Assistant Referee system made its debut at the final Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt in 2019, however solely ranging from the quarter-finals.

This might be the first time the tournament has VAR and the skill to overview choices for each sport, a part of an effort by African soccer president Patrice Motsepe to make the know-how extra widespread on the continent.

Africa had a shaky begin with VAR when the 2019 African Champions League remaining was deserted after one group walked off the area in protest over a problem with VAR. It additionally was concerned in a number of contentious calls at the final AFCON.

The menace of violence

Mohamed Salah is amongst the stars heading to Cameroon

Tournament organisers have stated little about the menace of violence from an ongoing riot in the western a part of Cameroon, the place English-speaking separatists have been preventing authorities troopers for 5 years.

More than 3,000 individuals have been killed and a whole bunch of 1000’s displaced.

There’s been preventing and the setting off of improvised explosive units dangerously near the metropolis of Limbe, which can host group video games involving Tunisia, Mali, Mauritania and Gambia and one round-of-16 sport.

That area may have a dusk-to-dawn curfew throughout the tournament, native officers stated.

What about the climate?

The tournament in Cameroon was purported to have been moved to the center of the yr to appease European golf equipment, who’ve complained for years about shedding their African gamers in the center of their league seasons.

CAF agreed to shift the occasion to June and July in the European low season however was then confronted with placing on a soccer tournament in the center of Cameroon’s tropical wet season.

So, it moved again to its conventional January-February slot and the golf equipment have expressed their frustration, but once more, at paying gamers their massive wages solely to see them disappear to Africa for as much as a month.

Sky Sports to indicate AFCON reside

The Africa Cup of Nations tournament might be broadcast reside on Sky Sports in January and February.

The tournament, initially scheduled to be performed in June and July 2021, might be performed in Cameroon between January 9 and February 6, 2022, with Sky Sports exhibiting all 52 video games reside.

Twenty-four groups will participate, kicking off on January 9 as hosts Cameroon host Burkina Faso in Yaounde, earlier than culminating in the remaining on February 6 in the capital.

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