African Nations Cup: Premier League stars are preparing for a controversial tournament

Johannesburg: English Premier League trio Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Riyad Mahrez are among the most in view expected in the African Cup of Nations, in program next Sunday in Cameroon, which promises to be “exceptional”, according to the president of the Confederation, after speculation that it has been postponed and canceled. The 36 group stage matches will begin on January 9 at the new Olympia Stadium in Yaoundé, and the curtain on competition will fall on February 6 in the same stadium, which has a capacity of sixty thousand spectators. Title holder Algeria leads 24 teams in search of the title of the 33rd edition of a competition launched in 1957 in Sudan. In addition to Algeria, the list of winners and entrants currently includes teams from Cameroon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Morocco, Nigeria, Sudan and Tunisia. While Egypt, seven times title holder (record), stands out with its 25th participation record, Gambia and Comoros will experience the continental championship for the first time. Algeria looks like a strong candidate to keep their title, as players of manager Jamal Belmadi have won 33 games without losing since the end of 2018. But the “Desert Warriors” may face competition from hosts such as Cameroon, Egypt, Ivory Coast, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia, while Burkina Faso, Ghana and Mali try to make the workhorse. On the other hand, the commander of the junta in Guinea, Mamady Domboya, told her country to return to Conakry with the title, otherwise they would have to pay the state-funded preparation costs. Preparation for this tournament was accompanied by constant reports of the possibility of canceling or postponing it due to Cameroon’s lack of readiness and the emergence of new Corona virus mutants. This is the second time that Cameroon will host the finals after 1972, knowing that the central continent has failed to meet the dates to host the 2019 edition, which has gone in Egypt. But with the participation of Liverpool stars, the English-Egyptian Mohamed Salah, the Senegalese Sadio Mane and Manchester City, the Algerian “Premier League” champion Riyad Mahrez, the president of the South African Continental Confederation, Patrice Motsebe, seemed confident. of the success of the tournament. “Together with the people of Cameroon we will host an extraordinary tournament,” Motsebe said during a visit to Yaoundé last month. It will be the most successful African Nations Cup ”. The South African billionaire continued: “The world will witness the best of African football and hospitality. We can host a football tournament as good as any other in Europe”. – Angry Eto’o – The new president of the Federation of Cameroon, the former star Samuel Eto’o, expressed his anger at the news that he speculated that the tournament would be postponed due to the pandemic. “If the European Cup took place questyear (2021) in the midst of the pandemic, with the full audience in some cities, because the Africa Cup cannot take place in Cameroon? “Said Eto’o in an interview with the French. “Canal Plus” channel. “Or are people trying to say, as is always the case, that Africans deserve nothing and that we have to adapt to that?” As organizers tried to finish construction on the six host stadiums, from Douala on the Atlantic Ocean to Garoua in the north-west of the country, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp ignited a storm of words. The German described the continental championship, held once every two years, as a “small tournament” during a press conference, only to withdraw his words. Senegal coach Aliou Cisse expressed his anger and asked, “Who does Klopp consider himself?” “I respect Liverpool, but not Klopp, who underestimates African football,” said the former star. He reached this position thanks to African players such as Salah, Mane, (Guinea Nabi) Keita and (Cameroon Joel) Matip ”. The departure of the African players from club Europeans mid-season has always led to a conflict with the coaches of the club most important, with Napoli coach Luciano Spalletti describing the tournament as an “invisible beast”. When Spalletti released this statement, he was afraid of losing the core of his team, following the example of Algerian Adam Ounass, Cameroonian Andre-Frank Zambo Anguesa, Nigerian Victor Osimhen and Senegalese Kalidou Koulibaly for six weeks. In turn, the French of Senegalese origins, Patrick Vieira, coach of Crystal Palace, believes that “the Nations Cup should be respected more, because it is as important as the European Cup”. Among the coaches who will be very affected by the Nations Cup is South African Pitso Mosimane, who will pay dearly for his club Egyptian Al-Ahly for contrasting tournament dates with the Club World Cup, where the club of Cairo represents the African continent team in the Emirates between 3 and 12 February. (AFP)

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