X Raying the groups, star players, and important group matches

The 33rd Africa Cup of Nations Cup tournament kicks off today with hosts Cameroon taking on 2013 finalists, Burkina Faso at the Olembe Stadium in Yaounde.

The top African footballing countries in Africa will be present for the tournament. From Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane to Manchester City’s Riyad Mahrez and the exciting young talents like Villarreal’s Samuel Chukwueze-the, the month-long football extravaganza should see some exhilarating action from Africa’s best.

Injuries and Covid-19 will prevent players like Victor Osimhen and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from showcasing their talents but there should be more than enough talents on view from the 24 countries. Let the games begin!

AFCON trophy
AFCON trophy

Group A: Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Cape Verde

While the Indomitable Lions are firm favourites to set the pace in this group, the three other teams in the pot have realistic chances of pulling through to the next round nonetheless.

The hosts are five-time winners of this tournament and are making the 20th appearance on home soil.

As for the Stallions, this is their 12th AFCON appearance and their best finish was in 2013 when they made it to the final but were denied by Nigeria’s Super Eagles, all thanks to the sumptuous goal scored by Sunday Mba.

Cape Verde are a decent team at least going by their exploits in the World Cup of Qualifiers where they pushed the Eagles to the wire. Making just a third appearance in the continental showpiece, the Blue Sharks’ best finish was in 2013 when they got to the quarter-final.

Group A

Ethiopia on paper are the weakest in the group as they make a return to the AFCON since 2013

Star match in the group

Cameroon vs Burkina Faso @5 p.m. on January 9

This potentially may turn out to be the battle for who finishes top in Group A as the Lions and Stallions have what it takes to beat the other two countries in this group.

Star players

Cameroon: Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa

Burkina Faso: Bertrand Traore

Cape Verde: Ryan Mendes

Ethiopia: Abubeker Nasir


They have played each other on nine occasions with Cameroon having four victories and one loss. Four games have been drawn.

Matches at AFCON

07 Feb 1998 Burkina Faso 0 – 1 Cameroon

14 Jan 2017 Burkina Faso 1 – 1 Cameroon


Cameroon-The Indomitable Lions

Burkina Faso -The Stallions.

Cape Verde-Blue Sharks

Ethiopia-Walia ibex


Squad value/FIFA Ranking in Africa

Cameroon – $159 million – No.7

Burkina Faso – $87 million – No.11

Cape Verde – $23 million – No.14

Ethiopia – $3 million – No.40

Group B- Senegal, Zimbabwe, Guinea & Malawi

The Teranga Lions are heads and shoulders above all their opponents in this group and they are expected to blow them all apart in their fiery search for a maiden AFCON title.

Even though Zimbabwe and Guinea are enduring miserable runs, they are both expected to overcome Malawi, but the minnows will fancy their chances at an unlikely shock against their group opponents with third place potentially good enough to progress.

Group B

Star match in the group

Senegal v Guinea @2 p.m. on January 14


The football rivalry between these two teams dates back to almost six decades with over half a century of games played. Guinea have won 16 of those games with the most recent coming at the 2019 AFCON tournament in Egypt. As for the Teranga Lions, they boast of 25 victories and 13 draw games against the Syli Nationale

AFCON Matches

03 Feb 2006 Guinea 2-3 Senegal

Star player for each country

Senegal – Sadio Mane

Zimbabwe – Knowledge Musona

Guinea – Naby Keita

Malawi – John Banda


Senegal – Lions of Teranga

Zimbabwe -The Warriors

Guinea – National Elephants (Syli Nationale)

Malawi-The Flames

Squad value/FIFA Ranking in Africa

Senegal – $390 million – No.1

Zimbabwe – $18 million – No.31

Guinea – $108 million – No.15

Malawi – $5 million – No.35

Group C-Morocco; Ghana; Gabon; Comoros

The two countries that jump out at you are Morocco and Ghana. The Atlas Lions of Morocco have just one AFCON title and that was 46 years ago. Ghana’s Black Stars have also not won Africa’s top diadem for 40 years and they have the most runner-up spot with five – the last in 2015.

Group C

Star match in the group

Morocco v Ghana @5 p.m. on January 10

The idea of not losing the first game when you have hopes of winning the tournament is a no-brainer which points to a tense affair that could be settled in a draw thereby making the matches against both Gabon and Comoros the deal breaker.

Star player for each country

Morocco – Achraf Hakimi

Ghana – Thomas Partey

Gabon – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Comoros – El Fardou Ben Nabouhane

Group C matches will be played at the Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo in Yaounde. It is a 42,500-capacity stadium that was built in 1972 and renovated in 2016.


Morocco – Atlas Lions

Ghana – Black Stars

Gabon – Les Pantheres [The Panthers]

Comoros – Les Coelacantes [The Coelacanths]

Squad value/FIFA Ranking in Africa

Morocco – $247 million – No.2

Ghana – $145 million – No.8

Gabon – $58 million – No.19

Comoros – $13 million – No.38

Group D: Egypt, Nigeria, Sudan, Guinea-Bissau

Egypt and Nigeria have been AFCON champions a combined 10 times but the last triumph came in 2010 for the Pharaohs and 2013 for the Super Eagles. Both countries are also in the equation to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup and this tournament should serve as a training jaunt towards that loftier goal. It is expected that both countries will be first and second in this group, especially against supposed minnows – Sudan and Guinea-Bissau.

Group D

Star match in the group

Nigeria v Egypt @5 p.m. on January 11

Three-time champions versus seven-time champions should make for a great spectacle and both countries have star quality in their ranks. The opening games of tournaments are very technical affairs with teams averse to losing what should be a tight contest.

Head -to-head

They have played each other on 18 occasions with Nigeria having eight victories to five losses. Their last match was a friendly in March 2019, which ended 1-0 in favour of the Super Eagles.

Matches at AFCON

24 Nov 1963 Nigeria 3 – 6 Egypt

14 Mar 1976 Nigeria 3 – 2 Egypt

15 Mar 1980 Nigeria 1 – 0 Egypt

14 Mar 1984 Nigeria 2 – 2 Egypt

20 Mar 1988 Egypt 0 – 0 Nigeria

05 Mar 1990 Nigeria 1 – 0 Egypt

30 Mar 1994 Egypt 0 – 0 Nigeria

12 Jan 2010 Egypt 3 – 1 Nigeria

Star players

Nigeria – Samuel Chukwueze

Egypt – Mohamed Salah

Sudan – Mohamed Abdel Rahman

Guinea Bissau – Amadou Diawara

Group D games will be played at the Roumdé Adjia Stadium in Garoua. It is a 30,000-capacity stadium that was built in 1978 and renovated in 2021.


Nigeria – Super Eagles

Egypt – The Pharaohs

Sudan – Falcons of Jediane

Guinea Bissau – Djurtus [Wild Dogs]

Squad value/FIFA Ranking in Africa

Nigeria – $279 million – No.5

Egypt – $183 million – No.6

Sudan – $3 million – No.33

Guinea Bissau – $22 million – No.24

ALSO READ: AFCON 2021: CAF, LOC officially welcome Super Eagles to Cameroon

Group E: Algeria, Equatorial Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire, Sierra Leone

The two countries that arguably have the best chance of qualifying for the next round, in this group, are Algeria and Côte d’Ivoire. The Foxes of Algeria have won AFCON twice (1990 and 2019) while the Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire have also won the AFCON twice (1992 and 2015).

Group E

Star match of the group

Algeria v Côte d’Ivoire @5 p.m. on January 20

The match happens to be the last group game for both teams which means it could be a determinant for whoever tops the group if they have expectedly beaten both Equatorial Guinea and Sierra Leone.

Head to head

Both teams have met 24 times with Algeria earning nine victories with eight losses. Their last match was at AFCON and it was settled by penalties in favour of the Foxes.

Matches at AFCON

12 Jan 1968 Côte d’Ivoire 3 – 0 Algeria

13 Mar 1988 Côte d’Ivoire 1 – 1 Algeria

05 Mar 1990 Algeria 3 – 0 Côte d’Ivoire

13 Jan. 1992 Algeria 0 – 3 Côte d’Ivoire

06 Oct 1996 Algeria 4 – 1 Côte d’Ivoire

22 June 1997 Côte d’Ivoire 1 – 2 Algeria

24 Jan. 2010 Côte d’Ivoire 2 – 3 Algeria

30 Jan. 2013 Algeria 2 – 2 Côte d’Ivoire

01 Feb. 2015 Côte d’Ivoire 3 – 1 Algeria

11 Jul. 2019 Côte d’Ivoire 1 – 1 Algeria (4-3 on penalties)

Star players

Algeria- Riyad Mahrez

Côte d’Ivoire – Sébastien Haller

Sierra Leone – Alhaji Kamara

Equatorial Guinea – Oscar Siafa

Group E games will be played at the Stade Japoma in Douala. It is a 50,000 all-seater multi-purpose stadium. The stadium project started in 2017 and was commissioned in 2022.


Algeria – The Fennecs [Foxes]

Côte d’Ivoire- The Elephants

Sierra Leone- Leone Stars

Equatorial Guinea – National Thunder

Squad Value/ FIFA ranking

Algeria – $211 million – No.3

Côte d’Ivoire – $346 million – No.10

Sierra Leone – $12 million – No.25

Equatorial Guinea – $6 million – No.28

Group F: Gambia, Mali, Mauritania, Tunisia

Mali and Tunisia seem to be favourites in this group.

The Eagles of Mali have to go back to 1972 for their best AFCON result. It was their debut appearance and they emerged as runner-up to DR Congo. They have made 12 appearances over the years. The Carthage Eagles of Tunisia were crowned champions of Africa in 2014, but almost unbelievably they have made just five appearances at the tournament.

Group F

Star match of the group

Tunisia v Mali @2 p.m. on January 12

The star match of this group will be the encounter between Tunisia and Mali on January 12 at 2 p.m. at the Stade Limbe stadium. Being the opener of the group might set the pace for whoever wins the clash to top the group.


Tunisia and Mali have met 11 times with the Carthage Eagles defeating their counterpart six times, losing four and drawing once. Their last encounter was a friendly in June 2021, which ended 1-0 in favour of Tunisia. Most of their encounters have been friendly games and the only time they met at AFCON was in the last edition in Egypt and the match ended 1-1.

Matches at AFCON

26 Mar 1994 Tunisia 0 – 2 Mali

28 Jun 2019 Tunisia 1 – 1 Mali

Star players

Mali – Amadou Haidara

Tunisia – Wahbi Khazri

Gambia – Assan Ceesay

Mauritania – Aboubakar Kamara

Group F games will be played at the Stade de Limbe in Limbe. It is a 20,000 capacity stadium built in 2012 and opened in 2016.


Mali – The Eagles

Tunisia – The Carthage Eagles

The Gambia – The Scorpions

Mauritania- Lions of Chinguetti

Squad Value/ FIFA ranking in Africa

Mali – $172 million – No.9

Tunisia- $68 million – No.4

Gambia- $51 million – No.46

Mauritania- $14 million – No.23

Support PREMIUM TIMES’ journalism of integrity and credibility

Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.

For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.

By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.


TEXT AD: To advertise here . Call Willie +2347088095401…

PT Mag Campaign AD

Source link