AFCON 2021: Host, Qualifiers & Full Competition Guide

Published January 29th, 2020 - 08:32 GMT
Algeria AFCON 2019 champions
Algeria AFCON 2019 champions

The 33rd edition of the Africa Cup of Nations kicks off January 2021, with 24 teams battling it out to be crowned continental champions.

We take a look the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, qualified teams, how the competition works and more.

What is the format of the Africa Cup of Nations?

Following the end of the qualification stage, 24 teams are drawn into six groups comprising of four teams each.

The tournament kicks off with a group stage in a round-robin format. After the group stage, the two best teams and four third-best teams from each group will progress to the knockout phases.

The quarter-finals, semi-finals and final follow, with the losers of the semi-final facing off in a third-place fixture.
Anchor When is the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations?

The 2021 Africa Cup of Nations is set to take place between January 9 and February 6, 2021.

The tournament was originally scheduled for June and July 2021, but CAF announced that they would be moving the dates to a winter period due to the weather conditions of the summer.

The announcement was met with a mixed reception, with Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp criticizing the change, calling it a 'catastrophe' for his squad due to its timing. Players such as Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane would be due to participate in the competition that, according to the German, is held in an already congested fixture schedule.

"Now they send all these guys in winter again, in the middle of a season to a tournament in different circumstances, and coming back from the African Cup of Nations is not easy to take. But the welfare of the players no-one thinks about. These are really important things," he said.

Where is the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations?

The 2021 AFCON will take place in Cameroon.

CAF had stripped Cameroon of AFCON 2019 hosting duties after the federation deemed the country's preparations for the tournament as unfinished, awarding the rights to Egypt instead. CAF president Ahmad Ahmad then announced that Cameroon had accepted to host the following tournament.

AFCON 2021 matches will take place in six stadiums across five Cameroon cities: Yaounde, Douala, Garouda, Limbe and Bafoussam.

Paul Biya Stadium and the Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo in the capital Yaounde, the Japoma Stadium in Douala, the Limbe Stadium in Limbe, the Kouekong Stadium in Bafoussam and the Roumde Adjia Stadium in Garoua have all been chosen as competition venues.

2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualified teams

Cameroon have qualified automatically as tournament hosts.

The 2021 AFCON qualification phase takes place from October 9, 2019 to September 8, 2020 featuring 52 teams.

What is the Africa Cup of Nations?

The Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) is the biennial international men's football championship of Africa organised by the Confederation of African Football (CAF).

Next January's competition will be the 33rd iteration of the competition and will be the second Africa Cup of Nations where the competition format expanded from 16 to 24 teams.

Previous Africa Cup of Nations winners

Algeria are defending champions after winning the 2019 AFCON final against Senegal, with Baghdad Bounedjah scoring the only goal in a 1-0 victory.

Nigeria's Odion Ighalo was top-scorer of the 2019 edition, with Riyad Mahrez and Mane tied in third place with three goals apiece.

Egypt have won the tournament a record seven times, last winning in 2010 after defeating Ghana in the final.

Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Zambia are also winners of the competition, the latter two winning the 2013 and 2011 editions respectively.

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