CAF African Nations Championship
- Sixth version of the CAF African Nations Championship begins this weekend
- Tournament reserved for African gamers competing in continent’s nationwide leagues
- For some groups, additionally serves as gown rehearsal earlier than Qatar 2022 qualifiers resume
‘Out of sight, out of mind’ goes the outdated adage. And for African soccer followers, alternatives to see a lot of their high internationals may be uncommon, with quite a bit taking part in exterior the continent. This might clarify the passion with which followers greet every version of the CAF African Nations Championship. This competitors is reserved completely for gamers from the Mother Continent who’re lively in its nationwide championships, thereby enabling followers to see gamers they watch week-in week-out within the home leagues proudly donning their nationwide group colors.
The 2020 version, moved to 2021 due to Covid-19 and being hosted by Cameroon, will probably be particularly necessary for these known as up, presenting because it does the possibility for them to stake a declare for a squad place forward of the second spherical of qualifying for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, wherein all 16 groups are nonetheless concerned. FIFA.com takes a more in-depth have a look at among the contenders on the eve of the continental showdown.
- Dates: 16 January to 7 February 2021
- Host nation: Cameroon (Douala, Limbe, Yaounde)
- Defending champions: Morocco
- Participants: – Group A: Cameroon, Zimbabwe, Mali, Burkina Faso – Group B: Libya, Niger, Congo DR, Congo – Group C: Morocco, Togo, Rwanda, Uganda – Group D: Zambia, Tanzania, Guinea, Namibia
This sixth version was initially set to happen in Ethiopia, earlier than being switched to Cameroon and rescheduled for April 2020. After then being postponed because of the pandemic, the competitors lastly will get underway this week in Cameroon, which may also host the CAF Africa Cup of Nations subsequent yr. The opening sport will see the host nation tackle Zimbabwe on 16 January on the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium in Yaounde, the place the ultimate may also happen on 7 February.
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Hosts below strain: As they put together for his or her fourth look on the occasion and the primary main males’s match to be staged in Cameroon because the 1972 Africa Cup of Nations, the Indomitable Lions will probably be anxious to enhance on their quarter-closing exits of 2011 and 2016, and most actually atone for ending backside of their group in 2018. However, the hosts did not impress of their preparation video games (two defeats and a draw), regardless of a ahead line that includes two strikers with European expertise within the form of Jacques Zoua and Yannick Ndjeng.
A Moroccan stroll: The Atlas Lions had been comfy winners on house soil on the final version in 2018, thanks in no small half to an unstoppable Ayoub El Kaabi. The ahead picked up the highest scorer and greatest participant awards and compelled his method into Herve Renard’s squad for Russia 2018. Three years on, he continues to hone his craft in his nationwide league, at the moment taking part in for Wydad Casablanca after a brief mortgage spell in China PR, and represents his facet’s greatest likelihood of retaining the title. Former worldwide Mustapha Hadji, assistant to senior group coach Vahid Halilhodzic, has been tasked with carefully monitoring the performances of 5 gamers in Cameroon: Abdelkrim Baaddi, Yahya Jabrane, Hicham El Mejhad, Soufiane Rahimi and Abdelilah Hafidi.
Another miracle for Libya? Winners in 2014 and semi-finalists 4 years later, Libya have labored wonders with their groups of local gamers throughout a interval when the nation’s nationwide championship has often been cancelled. Once once more this yr, it appears fortune is favouring the Mediterranean Knights who, regardless of being eradicated by Tunisia in qualifying, nonetheless secured a spot following the next withdrawal of the Eagles of Carthage.
Cranes hoping for carry off: In this their fifth participation (a file they share with Congo DR and Zimbabwe), Uganda look higher geared up than ever to lastly get previous the group stage. Coached by Northern Irishman Johnathan McKinstry, who led Rwanda within the 2016 version, the Cranes will take confidence from their 2019 CECAFA Cup title. On the flip facet, nevertheless, Patrick Kaddu, the highest scorer within the qualifying section of this African Nations Championship, later signed for Moroccan membership RS Berkane and is subsequently ineligible for the match.
Leopards again for extra: Winners in 2009 and 2016, Congo DR would love a 3rd title on their return, after lacking the 2018 version. The Leopards welcome again former coach Florent Ibenge, who had beforehand loved success with the complete nationwide group earlier than leaving his put up in 2019 after a disappointing efficiency in that yr’s Cup of Nations. The present squad attracts closely from the 2 local giants, TP Mazembe and AS Vita-Club, and has three gamers – Micah Mika, Ley Matampi and Ricky Tulenge – who had been a part of the group that received the 2016 title.
What they stated
“Friendly matches are not the same as competitive ones. In competition, sometimes it’s the most determined team that wins. We have to live up to our name of Indomitable Lions by giving our all in every game. Our country has invested a great deal in hosting this tournament, so we cannot let that be for nothing. We’ll be giving everything.” – Jacques Zoua, Cameroon striker and Africa Cup of Nations winner in 2017
“If we prepare well, then things should work out for us. We have confidence in this group of players because most of those selected already took part in the 2019 CECAFA Cup.” – Johnathan McKinstry, Uganda coach and 2019 CECAFA Cup winner
“There’s still work to be done but we‘re close to being ready, given the time constraints. The [preparation] games were welcome and allowed us to see some of our shortcomings and get ready for the finals. We’re representing an entire nation so there’s no margin for error.” – Gnama Akate, Togo captain