Africa Cup of Nations: a fiery fight for the title in the land of the “Wild Lions”

Yaoundé: After a long wait, the Africa Cup will start on Sunday in Cameroon and until February 6, which football fans are eagerly awaiting from Cairo to Dakar, and also in all over the world with the participation of stars who have carved their names outside the continent, such as the Algerian Riyad Mahrez, the Egyptian Mohamed Salah and the Senegalese Sadio Mane. The 33rd edition of the highest competition on the African continent will take place in Cameroon, after losing the first time three years ago, due to the country’s lack of preparation in that moment and then due to the outbreak of the Corona pandemic. Despite the controversy and doubts of the last few weeks about a new postponement or cancellation, the 24 teams have arrived in Cameroon and have settled near six stadiums in Yaounde (2), in addition to the other host cities: Douala, Limbe, Bafoussam and Garoua, stadiums either newly built or refurbished by the competition organizers. After last weekend’s games some stars have already arrived club Europeans, such as Senegalese Edouard Mendy (Chelsea) and Mane (Liverpool). Senegal is missing Watford’s Ismail Sarr due to an injury, while the Nigerian team is missing the Italian player of Napoli, Victor Osimhen, and the Englishman of Arsenal Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is absent from Gabon, due to infection with the Corona virus. In terms of coaches, several teams have undergone radical changes even a few weeks before the start of competitions. Several French coaches, such as Corentin Martens (Mauritania), Didier Six (Guinea), Hubert Filho (Sudan) and Guerno Rohr (Nigeria), were sacked, causing sudden instability. Martens was sacked from his post after seven years at the helm of the Mauritanian national team, and the same fate befell Rohr, after having held his position for six years in the Nigerian national team. in which helped reach the 2018 World Cup.And if things seemed to falter before the tournament started, it looks like everything is fine now. – A Cameroonian wish – Cameroonian football has seen an extraordinary event with the arrival of the country’s legend, striker Samuel Eto’o, at the helm of the local federation, on whom fans are counting to restore the glories of the past. Cameroonian football dominated African competitions in the seventies and eighties of the last century, where the best elements played in the country, and the Cameroonian team remains one of the most important candidates to win the title for the sixth time and the first since 2017. Only the Egyptian team got the title more than Cameroon with seven titles. Ghana has four titles and Nigeria has three. Cameroon, led by veteran Portuguese coach Tony Conceicao, who is discovering African football, relied on the opportunity to take advantage of the land factor, although the organization of the tournament in 1972 did not live up to expectations, as Cameroon was eliminated from the semifinals at the time of Congo-Brazzaville (1-0). Cameroon competed in the first group together with Burkina Faso, its competitor in Sunday’s opening match at the “Olympic” stadium in Yaounde, as well as Ethiopia and Cape Verde. Logically, the Cameroonians should be able to qualify easily, especially in light of the tournament system that qualifies the 4 best third-placed teams in the six groups. At the top of the teams nominated to win the title, Algeria, the champion in charge, led by manager Djamel Belmadi, and a group of stars led by Manchester City star Mahrez. Senegal and their strong arsenal, from goalkeeper Edouard Mendy to striker Mane, will look to finally crown the continental title, after two defeats in final, in 2019 against Algeria (1-0) and in 2002 against Cameroon (0-0, 3 -2 on penalties). In addition to these three teams, right behind them in the nominations on paper, long-standing teams such as the Egyptian side led by Salah, top scorer in the English Premier League with 16 goals, the Ivory Coast led by Sebastian Haller (Ajax Amsterdam, Netherlands ), Morocco led by the Bosnian-French coach and Nigeria with Kelechi Ihenacho, and Tunisia with Wahbi Khazri. The focus is on teams unknown to prime apparitions, such as Gambia and Comoros. Among the most important absentees of the continental phase questyear there are South Africa, home of the 2010 World Cup, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. (AFP)