Starting this coming weekend, the continent of Africa will be the focus for many football fans as the African Cup Of Nations (AFCON), the continent’s equivalent of the Copa America and European Championships, gets underway in Cameroon.
The tournament features 23 teams that qualified for the finals plus the hosts Cameroon and will feature a Group Stage to start the tournament, after which eight teams will be eliminated and there will then follow a knockout phase of one-leg games played to a conclusion to decide the winner.
The knockout phase begins on the 23rd January, with the final taking place on the 6th February, kicking off at the Paul Biya stadium in Olembe at 7pm UK Time.
In this preview we are going to learn a little more about the tournament, its history, who is competing in the delayed 2021 tournament, which players are the ones to watch in the tournament and lastly, we will of course give you our tips for the teams to back to win the tournament.
If you would like to enjoy a bet on the tournament then Bet365 Sport offers a wide range of futures betting, pre-match and In Play betting across the whole tournament.
Alternatively, if you are based in the United States then you can get many similar bets and good value odds from BetRivers Sportsbook, which operates now across many states where sports betting is now legal.
Let’s now learn a little more about the history of the tournament and how it has grown into the massive competition that we see today.
The Origins And Expansion Of AFCON
In its formative years, the AFCON was only held on a somewhat ad hoc basis. It was first contested in 1957, with Sudan hosting the tournament and Egypt winning it against just two other teams.
A second tournament was held in 1959, but then there was a gap of three years to 1962, followed by a gap of just one year to 1963 and the next tournament followed in 1965.
By 1968, it was clear that this random nature of tournaments was not ideal and the tournament became two-yearly tournament, taking place in the Northern hemisphere winter to avoid clashes with the developing FIFA World Cup.
By 1968, the tournament had grown to 8 teams and in 1998, it expanded further to 16 teams. In addition, a large-scale qualifying campaign that included most of the teams in Africa. In 2013, the tournament moved to odd-numbered years to avoid clashes with the FIFA World Cup and the tournament was also shifted to June/July to stop African players missing game time with their clubs.
Egypt are the most successful team in the tournament’s history, winning seven titles. Cameroon are next with 5 followed by Ghana with four, Nigeria with three and Ivory Coast, DR Congo and Algeria, who are the current holders, with two.
Zambia, Tunisia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Morocco, South Africa and Congo have all won the trophy once each.
Senegal are the only team to have reached the AFCON final twice and are yet to win it, losing in both the 2002 and 2019 finals.
Let’s now switch focus to the current tournament which is set to get underway this weekend.
African Cup Of Nations 2022 – Group Stage Draw
- Burkina Faso
- Cape Verde
- Cameroon (Hosts)
Group A Match Schedule
- Cameroon v Burkina Faso
- Ethiopia v Cape Verde
- Cameroon v Ethiopia
- Cape Verde v Burkina Faso
- Cape Verde v Cameroon
- Burkina Faso v Ethiopia
Players To Watch In Group A
Goalkeepers – Andre Onana (Cameroon)
Defenders – Edmond Tapsoba (Burkina Faso), Jerome Onguene (Cameroon)
Midfielders – Frank Anguissa (Cameroon), Kenny Rocha Santos (Cape Verde), Shimelis Bekele (Ethiopia)
Attackers – Getane Kebede (Ethiopia), Bertrand Traore (Burkina Faso), Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting (Cameroon), Vincent Aboubakar (Cameroon), Clinton N’Jie (Cameroon), Abdoul Tapsoba (Burkina Faso)
Group B Match Schedule
- Senegal v Zimbabwe
- Guinea v Malawi
- Senegal v Guinea
- Malawi v Zimbabwe
- Malawi v Senegal
- Zimbabwe v Guinea
Players To Watch In Group B
Goalkeepers – Eduoard Mendy (Senegal),
Defenders – Issiaga Sylla (Guinea), Saidou Sow (Guinea), Kalidou Koulibaly (Senegal), Fode Ballo-Toure (Senegal)
Midfielders – Naby Keita (Guinea), Amadou Diawara (Guinea), Idrissa Gueye (Senegal), Cheikhou Kouyate (Senegal), Nampalys Mendy (Senegal)
Attackers – Sadio Mane (Senegal), Ismaila Sarr (Senegal), Keita Balde (Senegal), Tino Kadawere (Zimbabwe)
Group C Match Schedule
- Morocco v Ghana
- Comoros v Gabon
- Morocco v Comoros
- Gabon v Ghana
- Gabon v Morocco
- Ghana v Comoros
Players To Watch In Group C
Goalkeepers – Abdul Nurudeen (Ghana)
Defenders – Bruno Manga (Gabon), Jonathan Mensah (Ghana), Daniel Amartey (Ghana), Romain Saiss (Morocco), Achraf Hakimi (Morocco), Adam Masina (Morocco)
Midfielders – Youssouf M’Changama (Guingamp), Mario Lemina (Gabon), Thomas Partey (Ghana), Edmund Addo (Ghana), Mubarak Wakaso (Ghana), Aymen Barkok (Morocco), Sofyan Amrabat (Morocco)
Attackers – El Fardou Ben Nabouhane (Comoros), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon), Jordan Ayew (Ghana), Andre Ayew (Ghana), Youssef En-Nesyri (Morocco), Soufiane Boufal (Morocco), Munir El Haddadi (Morocco)
- Guinea Bissau
Group D Match Schedule
- Nigeria v Egypt
- Sudan v Guinea Bissau
- Nigeria v Sudan
- Guinea-Bissau v Egypt
- Guinea-Bissau v Nigeria
- Egypt v Sudan
Players To Watch In Group D
Goalkeepers – Francis Uzoho (Nigeria)
Defenders – Ahmed Hegazi (Egypt), Nanu (Guinea-Bissau), Ola Aina (Nigeria), Semi Ajeyi (Nigeria)
Midfielders – Trezeguet (Egypt), Mohamed Elneny (Egypt), Pele (Guinea-Bissau), Alex Iwobi (Nigeria), Wilfred Ndidi (Nigeria), Joe Aribo (Nigeria)
Attackers – Mo Salah (Egypt), Ahmed Musa (Nigeria), Kelechi Iheanacho (Nigeria), Taiwo Awoniyi (Nigeria), Mohamed Abdelrahman (Sudan)
- Ivory Coast
- Equatorial Guinea
- Sierra Leone
Group E Match Schedule
- Algeria v Sierra Leone
- Equatorial Guinea v Ivory Coast
- Ivory Coast v Sierra Leone
- Algeria v Equatorial Guinea
- Ivory Coast v Algeria
- Sierra Leone v Equatorial Guinea
Players To Watch In Group E
Goalkeepers – Jesus Owono (Equatorial Guinea)
Defenders – Aissa Mandi (Algeria), Ramy Bensebaini (Algeria), Serge Aurier (Ivory Coast), Eric Bailly (Ivory Coast), Willy Boly (Ivory Coast), Osman Kakay (Sierra Leone), Steven Caulker (Sierra Leone)
Midfielders – Sofiane Feghouli (Algeria), Ismael Bennacer (Algeria), Santiago Eneme (Equatorial Guinea), Franck Kessie (Ivory Coast), Serey Die (Ivory Coast), Maxwell Cornet (Ivory Coast),
Attackers – Ben Slimani (Algeria), Riyad Mahrez (Algeria), Adam Ounas (Algeria), Said Benrahma (Algeria), Nicolas Pepe (Ivory Coast), Wilfred Zaha (Ivory Coast), Sebastian Haller (Ivory Coast), Jeremie Boga (Ivory Coast)
Group F Match Schedule
- Tunisia v Mali
- Mauritania v Gambia
- Gambia v Mali
- Tunisia v Mauritania
- Gambia v Tunisia
- Mali v Mauritania
Players To Watch In Group F
Goalkeepers – Djigui Diarra (Mali)
Defenders – Omar Colley (Gambia), Hamari Traore (Mali)
Midfielders – Sulayman Marreh (Gambia), Adama M Traore (Mali), Moussa Djenepo (Mali), Yves Bissouma (Mali), Diadie Samessekou (Mali), Hannibal Mejbri (Tunisia)
Attackers – Assan Ceesay (Gambia), Ibrahima Kone (Mali), Wahbi Khazri (Tunisia)
A total of 16 teams qualify for the Knockout phase as follows:
- The top two teams in each of the six groups. (12 teams)
- The top four third-placed teams in the group stage (4 teams)
Each knockout phase tie will be played as a one-leg knockout tie with extra time and penalties used to decide the winner if the teams are level after 90 minutes and extra time.
- Round of 16 – 23rd to 26th January inclusive
- Quarterfinals – 29th & 30th January
- Semifinals – 2nd & 3rd February
- 3rd Place Playoff – 6th February
- AFCON Final – 6th February
Who Are Our African Cup Of Nations Tips?
Who which teams are the ones that we are going to pick for the African Cup of Nations this year? A quick look at the odds sees the usual names amongst the favourites with bet365 having Senegal as the 4/1 favourites and then there are a whole group of other teams rated from 6/1 to 14/1 that I feel stand a chance.
The most intriguing of these I feel is Ivory Coast, who I think have the strongest squad in the competition and a relatively favourable draw. If they can start the tournament well, then I think their 8/1 price is the one to back here.