We’re back with out first article of the year and what better way to start than with an AFCON preview. We’re gonna run through everything you need to know for the tournament including why it’s taking place now, the groups, fixtures and road to the final.
Where is it taking place?
This years tournament takes place in Cameroon, they were meant to host the 2019 tournament but due to some issues it was given to Egypt instead so now they’ve been given another chance with the 2021 edition of the tournament. They have some really nice stadiums which will be used throughout the tournament, you can find some below:
Why is it happening in January?
The weather. Funnily enough it’s not because it will be too hot over summer in Cameroon, it’s because that’s when their rainy season falls, their driest season is between December and March so now’s the perfect time. There’s a World cup in Qatar this year over Christmas time that’s going to cause disruptions that will likely last two years, football fans(yeah I’m looking at you Liverpool and Chelsea fans) need to get over AFCON being held in January, players missing 2/3 games isn’t the end of the world.
Groups and fixtures
*Time in images are in the local Cameroon time which is 1 hour ahead Ireland & the UK.
The tournament starts on January 9th at 4pm with Cameroon vs Burkina Faso. I hate to plug them, but you can watch it on Skysports as well as every other game throughout the tournament.
So there’s six groups, the top two teams from each group qualify and the four best 3rd place teams make up the last 16, identical to what we seen in Euro 2020. The groups will wrap up on the 20th of January with games on everyday for 11 days running.
Last 16 permutations
As always with any KO competition coming first usually gives a nation the best advantage as they’ll come up against either 2nd place teams or the best place 3rd teams, however given some groups contain two top teams such as groups D and E, it might not be the worst coming 2nd or 3rd. The last 16 will be played over the course of 4 days with all games on at 4 or 7pm.
Road to the final
The final takes place on February 6th 4 days after the semi finals take place, with the winners receiving $4.5m for their team. This is a very hard tournament to win, when it gets to the last 8 there’s usually not much in it at all and as always with international tournaments there will be under-performers and surprise packages. I’ll give my pick in an upcoming article.
Why you should watch
If you’re like me and you’ve become disillusioned with club football then AFCON will be the perfect break for you, the football will be exciting, there’s no such thing as parking the bus AFCON. Expect plenty of goals and lots of controversy given the introduction of VAR to the tournament.
The tournament is going to feature some of Europes best players over the past few years including Mo Salah, Eduaord Mendy, Hakimi and Aubameyang. As well as exciting young talent like Hannibal Mejbri, Kamaldeem Sulemana and Ilaix Moriba, look out for articles on these young talents as well as the favourites for the competition over the coming days.