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AFCON 2021 (aka 2022)

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The delayed 2021 Africa Cup of Nations is set to go from Sunday Jan 9 to Sunday February 6th in Cameroon - the first AFCON to be played in Cameroon since 1972. Five cities will host with the Final at Paul Biya (Camerron prez & the longest ruling non-royal leader in the world) Stadium in the capital Yaounde

I didn't think it was going to happen in 2022. And I had doubts whether the top Euro-based players would escape covid and club pressure to be there. Attendance is capped at 60-80% - which is a key pillar in the tournament's entertainment value.

You can watch many of the matches on BEIN or via fubo tv. If you have Roku or certain smart tvs, certain other matches are available on the free BEIN Sports Extra channel. For instance, on opening day, Cameroon v Burkina Faso is available at 1050 ET & Ethiopia v Cabo Verde at 1350 ET. On Monday, one of the notable match ups of Morocco v Ghana is on at 1050 ET.

Other notable group stage matches include Nigeria v Egypt on Jan 11th, Tunisia v Mali Jan 12th & Cote d'Ivoire v Algeria Jan 20th. Otherwise, it is best to wait for the quarters starting on Sunday Jan 23rd.

9/10 of the nations in the final round of CAF WCQ will be there - only Congo DR is absent. So, it's a good way to get to better know the 5 CAF entries for Qatar. 24 nations are in with Egypt having won 7 times & Algeria being defending champions.


Odds to win

Senegal — 9:2
Algeria — 5:1
Egypt — 6:1
Ivory Coast — 7:1
Nigeria — 9:1
Cameroon — 9:1
Morocco — 10:1

Good to see 14/24 of the managers are from the region. The star players of the tournament are Aubameyang, Mane, Salah, and Mahrez.

Other stars or stars to emerge include Morocco/PSG Hakimi, Cote d'Ivoire/Milan Kessie, BFA/Leverkusen Tapsoba, Mali/RBL Haidara & Camara, Nigeria/Villrreal Chukwueze, Ghana/Rennes Sulemana, Morocco/Sevilla En-Nesyri, Guinea/RBL Moriba, Senegal/Metz Sarr, Cote d'Ivoire/PSV Sangare & Nigeria/Rangers Aribo, 

If you want a good overview of the hopes and dreams of African football but tempered by all the challenges, this Athletic Football pod with the former Secretary General of CAF is a good listen.


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From a Canadian perspective, Duane Rollins has put out an AFCON preview - the oldest confederation championship. His overall prediction: It’s AFCON, so something unexpected will almost certainly happen along the way. That said…Senegal over Algeria.


Or you can watch/listen to their preview:


5 MLS players will be at AFCON:


Being Concacafed Africa edition: Mario Escobar from Guatemala & VAR Fernando Guerrero from Mexico are 2 on the refs list.

Whoscored 10 players to keep an eye on:


Al-Jazeera's 11 to watch:



Another option to watch BEIN Sports Extra is to download the Samsung TV Plus app on android phone/tablet.


Football writer Salim Masoud Said: “When we moved to the UK as a family, the biennial AFCON editions were, for a few weeks, a wonderful way for my family and I to reconnect with the continent and our roots. Those would be the times, more than any other, when stories of football in Africa from my father and other family members would drift down, and when, in a split second, my father would go from being wowed to lamenting the technical quality on show.”


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I think that AFCON suffers from the same thing as the Gold Cup, that being that it is simply too frequent to make it too compelling.  Having both these tournaments all the time takes away the urgency to win, and I feel makes the titles too temporary. That, together with teams being able to take a tournament off (not sure about AFCON, but in GC teams do this, and send a B team) really removes the lustre of the tournament. 

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Round of 16 starts Sunday and goes till Wednesday.

BEIN Sports Extra has the 2 Sunday matches. Rest are on BEIN or via fubotv.

Juicy match ups are Nigeria v Tunisia Sunday at 14:00 ET and Cote d'Ivoire v Egypt Wednesday at 11:00 ET.

9/10 remaining countries in the WCQ started AFCON. But there were 2 shockers as Algeria & Ghana both finished last in their groups.

Comoros was a surprise advancer given this was their first AFCON for this small island nation in the Indian Ocean. Another island nation in the Atlantic Ocean, Cabo Verde, also advanced. Lowest ranked country to advance was 150 Gambia. 

There was some clueless refs and quite a few low scoring matches. Just over half the matches had 1 goal or less. Lack of prep time, covid issues & hot temps have been put forth as the main reasons. Pitch conditions often didn't look that good on tv. Attendance is restricted but it still has been low especially on weekdays. 

390 clubs from 69 countries are represented which makes AFCON the most diverse football tourney in the world. 64% of the players play in Europe. France leads the way, with 103 players from 52 clubs. Of these, 56 play in Ligue 1, with only Lille not contributing a player. Metz supplied 7 players — more than any other European team.

England is second with 55. Egypt is third with 28. Al Ahly (9) and Zamalek (8) of Egypt have the most players at AFCON. 1% of the players play in North America.

2018 World Cup had players from 57 countries. 


Most interesting home kits: Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Guinea-Bissau & Ghana.






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R16 started off with increased intensity on and off the pitch. Crowds were bigger and there was more travelling support. Unfortunately, 8 people died by being trampled trying to get into the stadium to see home side Cameroon. Only 1 gate was open 30 minutes prior to the match and some fans with no tickets tried to get in.

On the pitch, the low scoring continued with 5/8 matches with 1 goal or less. 3 matches went into penalties. This happened despite 4 matches seeing red cards. My look at the lineups say there is more talent in the back line and defensive mid than are strikers and number 10s with pedigree. Haller only ended with a goal.

After looking the best in the group stages, Nigeria lost to Tunisia. Island nations Comoros & Cabo Verde are out. But small nations Gambia & EQ are still in.


Quarters are on the weekend. Egypt v Morocco at 1100 ET on Sunday is the most tasty and good mise en bouche before Canada.

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Mane vs Salah in Final on Sunday @1400. Free to watch on almost any streaming platform with BEIN or BEIN Sports Extra.

Canadian rooting interest is hope for Egypt to lose.

In 10 years time, will see a Canadian player pay homage to a Qatar celebration?

Cameroon with best pre-pitch entrance:


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Senegal winning on penalties after a scoreless match was truly emblematic of this AFCON. Low scoring, minimal attacking energy or flair, lots of injuries, red/yellow cards, penalty kicks and missed penalty kicks. First time AFCON winner.

This was a preview of the WCQ between Senegal & Egypt. The World Cup will be better with Senegal. They will be a hard team to breakdown. 


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There are moments when the success of a sports team can transfix a nation. Senegal winning its first-ever AFCON is such a moment. That also means celebrating even in the country of the world champions - so don't expect a magical transformation in Canada just because CANMNT now will regularly make the World Cup.

Also one way AFCON>Gold Cup.


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