2019 Africa Cup of Nations Update
The 32nd Africa Cup of Nations kicked off in Egypt on the 21st of June 2019. The final will be held on the 19th of July, and will determine the new champion of the Confederation of African Football, or CAF.
Defending titleholders Cameroon were originally scheduled to host the 2019 Cup, but duties were reassigned to Egypt in November 2018. The reasons cited for this were delays in infrastructure delivery, the Anglophone Crisis and the Boko Haram insurgency. As the competition is now being hosted by Egypt, it was only natural that the branding would be heavily influenced by local culture, and Tut, a young boy based on famous young Pharaoh Tutankhamen, is the tournament mascot.
An Increased Field
For the first time ever, 24 teams will be contesting the championship title – up from the 16 sides that participated in previous years. Qualification matches were held from 22nd to 24th March 2019, between 51 CAF member countries.
The nations who made it to AFCON have been drawn and placed into 6 groups of 4, labelled A to F, for the Group Stage. Group A consists of host nation Egypt, along with DR Congo, Uganda and Zimbabwe. Group B is comprised of Nigeria, Guinea, Madagascar and Burundi, while Senegal, Algeria, Kenya and Tanzania are in Group C.
Morocco, recently allowed back to AFCON 2019 after the Court of Arbitration for Sport overturned their CAF ban for withdrawing as the 2015 hosts, is joined in Group D by Ivory Coast, Namibia and South Africa. Group E consists of Tunisia, Mali, Mauritania and Angola, which leaves Group F for Cameroon, Ghana, Benin and Guinea-Bissau.
AFCON Tournament Structure
During the Group Stage each country will play one match against the other 3 teams in its group. The top 2 squads from each pool will move to the Knockout Stage, and the 4 best-ranked third-place sides will also advance. The third-place nations will be ranked according to points, goal difference, goals scored, disciplinary points and drawing of lots.
In the knockout phase, the 16 sides will play against each other to determine which 8 go through to the Quarter Final, and then which 4 proceed to the Semi Final. The 2 winners of the Semi Final will go head-to-head in the Final, to determine which country will ultimately get to lift the trophy.
AFCON 2019 Predictions
Who is likely to win the 32nd Africa Cup of Nations? Egypt holds the record, having been crowned champions 7 times in the past. The players that won an unprecedented 3 AFCONs in a row, starting in 2006, have all retired now, but the strong side will have superstar Mohamed Salah and is still the bookmaker favourite, with odds around 4/1.
Second- and third-favourite positions are both tied, by Senegal and Ghana at 6/1 and Nigeria and Ivory Coast around 8/1 respectively. All 4 of these squads have performed well recently, and could take first place.
If you are considering betting on the Africa Cup of Nations it’s advisable to do your homework and stay up to date with the latest news as the games play out. The more informed you are, the better your chances are of making an accurate prediction.
One thing that can be stated with confidence is that many spectators will be watching this event, in the stadiums themselves, via live streaming, or on television. The competition was switched to being held in odd years as of 2013, so that it wouldn’t clash with the FIFA World Cup. Fans will be able to focus fully on the games in Egypt – which is just as well, since they promise to be action packed.