The 2022 African Cup of Nations (CAN), postponed for a year due to the health crisis linked to Covid-19, will take place in Cameroon from January 9 to February 6. And the draw, Tuesday evening August 17, gives a much more precise idea of what will be the first days of the flagship competition of the African continent.
Cameroon well served, Morocco much less
The composition of the four hats made it possible to envisage a certain number of shocks and lovers of tinsel were not disappointed. If Cameroon has inherited a relatively affordable Group A, with Burkina Faso as the main opponent (which they will meet in the opening match, on January 9), in addition to Ethiopia and Cape Verde, this no. This is not really the case for Morocco (group C), another seed. The Atlas Lions, who have not won the CAN since 1976, were among the favorites in 2019, but their journey stopped in the round of 16 against Benin.
In five months, the Moroccan team will again be considered a serious contender for the title, but it will have to get out of a complicated group which includes Ghana (its first opponent, January 10), Gabon and the Comoros – including this will be the first appearance at this level and one that has not really been spoiled by this draw. “We are going to face very strong teams, against which we will have to be very vigilant. For us, it is a great pleasure to compete in this CAN ”, reacted Amir Abdou, the coach of the Coelacanths.
Fennecs against Elephants: a shocking encounter
Algeria, defending champion and whose results have not weakened since the coronation of Cairo in 2019, will face Côte d’Ivoire in Group E. This clash between two of the last three winners of the tournament will be one of the most anticipated of the first round. A priori, neither the Fennecs nor the Elephants have reason to complain about the rest of the draw, since their opponents are Equatorial Guinea and Sierra Leone, back in the finals after twenty-six years of eclipse.
Another poster is already attracting attention, the one that will oppose Nigeria, third in 2019, to Egypt of Mohamed Salah on January 11, necessarily revenge after missing his CAN two years ago. In this group D, Sudan and Guinea-Bissau will fight a priori for third place, which may qualify for the round of 16 on condition of finishing among the best four thirds. “This will be our goal”, commented Hubert Velud, the French coach of Sudan: “For the Sudanese people, a match against Egypt is something special when you know the links between the two countries. “
Senegal well off, Gambia challenged
Senegal, vice-champion of Africa in 2019, will play an authentic derby against Guinea, on January 14 in Bafoussam, on the second day of a group B completed by Malawi and Zimbabwe, two teams difficult to maneuver and who will be the only two representatives of southern Africa. A priori, the Lions of Teranga have ample means to come out of this group. They will aim to include their name on the competition’s record for the first time in their history, even if Aliou Cissé, their coach, is the target of many criticisms, his detractors deeming him too cautious in his choices.
The Gambia, the other newcomer to the final stages with the Comoros, is entering the competition with less pressure than its powerful neighbor but will have to reckon with tough opponents. The Scorpions, who eliminated the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) during the qualifying phase, will face Tunisia, Mali and Mauritania in Group F. The three teams had already crossed paths in 2019 in Egypt and, in evening of the first round, it was the Mauritanians who had packed their bags.
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