The best nations of African football will be present in Cameroon from January 9th to February 6th to take part in the Africa Cup of Nations and we take a look at the biggest favorites to win this 33rd edition of the AFCON.
However the Black Stars of Ghana are not considered as one of the biggest favorites to lift the trophy in Cameroon.
The countdown begins…..
Algeria, the title holders
Although Morocco coach Vahid Halilhodzic declined to say it, the defending champions are the favorite to their own succession.
The former Yugoslav international said: “We don’t need to repeat ourselves. The biggest favorite, you know him “… A way, for him, not to put the old selection which he led on a pedestal, especially since it is the great rival of Morocco.
In addition to their impressive 33-game unbeaten streak, Algeria, with an A ’side, recently won the Arab Nations Cup. In the starting lineup include Youcef Belaïli and Yacine Brahimi, on fire during the tournament. They are present in the list of 28 players to participate in the AFCON by head coach Djamel Belmadi.
The selection will be carried, in particular by its captain, Riyad Mahrez, major player of Manchester City, his metronome, Ismaël Bennacer or his deputies, Raïs M’bolhi and Aïssa Mandi.
According to Patrick Juillard, journalist at Foot365, specialist in African football, Algeria “must still be careful”. “We remember that before the Euro, France was said to be the best selection, across the board, but it remains a final phase and a tournament in a vacuum, especially because of the Covid. We may have surprises, so the Fennecs will have to stay focused, ”he adds.
Senegal: the finalist of the last edition
The Lions of Teranga, finalists of the last edition, defeated by Algeria, will also be one of the big favorites of this AFCON 2021.
Aliou Cissé’s squad is of quality, especially with the captain and left winger of Liverpool, Sadio Mané who scored a goal in the Chelsea 2 Liverpoool 2 game on Sunday, the central defender of Naples, Kalidou Koulibaly, or the goalkeeper of the reigning European champion, Chelsea, Edouard Mendy.
Among the 27 players summoned, there are also many Ligue 1 players, such as Parisians Idrissa Gueye, Abdou Diallo, or even Rennais, Alfred Gomis. It should be noted the selection of two talented young people, who play for Olympique de Marseille: Bamba Dieng (21) and Pape Gueye (22).
According to Patrick Juillard, “Aliou Cissé has improved his squad, especially on the sides, with the arrival of Bouna Sarr (Bayern Munich), Abdou Diallo (PSG) and Fodé Ballo-Touré (AC Milan)”. According to him, “the squad is better than in 2019”, but Sadio Mané’s teammates will have to “take a mental step forward”.
The Senegalese coach, Aliou Cissé, criticized – despite his very good results – for the not very flamboyant play of his team, will have the mission to find a collective in a team which, until today, is above all a sum of individuals.
He will also want to erase this counter strike which gave the victory to Algeria in the final of the last CAN. A strike that remains across the throat. Senegal is a massive contender.
Cameroon: the home advantage
It is not easy to assess Cameroon’s level. The team automatically qualified as the host country. They therefore didn’t have the pressure of the result in the group stage. Nonetheless, the team has historically been difficult to maneuver at home. Although Cameroon’s squad is not the best on the continent, its status as host country puts it among the serious contenders for the title. Portugal’s Indomitable Lions coach Antonio Conceiçao has set a goal “to make it to the final at least”. It will be about beating the Indian sign, for Cameroonians who have never won the AFCON at home.
The recent election of Cameroonian football legend Samuel Eto’o, at the head of the Cameroon Football Federation, can also trigger a positive dynamic for a selection whose group remains rather affordable (Ethiopia, Burkina-Faso and Cape Verde ).
Egypt: hopes rest on Mohamed Salah
“Mohamed Salah is surely the best African offensive player. The team … it’s something else, “warns Patrick Juillard. “The Arab Cup showed a timid Egypt, with difficulties in creating the game,” he said.
The Egyptian forward will aim to transcend and carry a mixed squad, with local players from a quality league on the continent and expatriates. A difficult mission, but not impossible for the man who is nicknamed (against his will) “the Pharaoh”.