From Egypt to Ivory Coast: The 5 teams to watch out for at the Africa Cup of Nations
The Africa Cup of Nations has begun and everyone is trying to figure out which team will take home the trophy
Thanks to star player Mo Salah, it seems like host country Egypt are the current favourites, but there are some other strong contenders as well
Foes like Camerron, Nigeria, Senegal and Ivory Coast will put up a good fight, with them all apart from Senegal taking home the Cup at some point in the past
With Cameroon being stripped of the right to host due to some infrastructural difficulties, the 32nd AFCON is going down in Egypt this year from June 21 to July 19. The games will take place in Alexandria, Cairo, Ismailia and Suez, with 24 teams taking part. Of those 24, here are the five you should really keep an eye on:
Previous AFCON wins: 1957, 1959, 1986, 1998, 2006, 2008, 2010
There are two reasons why everyone thinks Egypt has the best chance to take home the AFCON Cup, one is that it is the host country, and the second is that it has one of the best players in the world: Mohamed Salah.
The world famous Salah currently plays for the Premier League club Liverpool, he’s an attacking player known for his speed, finishing and getting those goals in. With an aggressive player at the forefront, there’s one issue that might cause the host country some worry — their defence isn’t the greatest.
However, Egypt has scored 20 goals in their last eight matches.
They won their first match against Zimbabwe on June 22 with a goal scored in the 41st minute by Mahmoud Hassan.
Previous AFCON wins: 1984, 1988, 2000, 2002, 2017
The current title holders, Cameroon have a good shot to take the win for a second time in a row. But the major challenge former star player now turned coach Clarence Seedorf has, is to make sure his men don’t get complacent.
Over the years the team has gained a lot of experience at major tournaments such as the 2010 World Cup and the Confederations Cup.
During Cameroon’s debut game against Guinea Bissau, we recommend keeping an eye on attacker Choupo-Moting, who could pose a serious threat to the opposition back-line. Cameroon has also won all three of its previous meetings with Guinea Bissau.
Previous AFCON wins: 1980, 1994, 2013
They haven’t made it into the last two AFCONs but the last one they did make it to, they won. Nigeria’s team is made up of some heavy hitting wingers like Ahmed Musa and Alex Iwobi. Arsenal’s Iwobi stands as a possible issue for the line of opposition defenders.
Nigeria became the first team from Africa to reach Russia at the 2018 World Cup, the team is now on a continuously impressive run of appearances, having only missed one tournament – Germany 2006 – since their 1994 debut.
Nigeria’s selection of top players, most of which are fast attackers, make them a team likely to score a lot of goals, with their first match being against Burundi.
Previous AFCON wins: None
Senegal is Africa’s number one team according to FIFA rankings but a team that has never won the Cup of Nations. But the team is coming in hot, winning allsix of the last games.
The team has Liverpool’s Sadio Mané leading the charge as well as Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly who is arguably to be the best centre back in the whole tournament.
Another player to keep an eye out for is Salif Sane, the 28-year-old has spent the last six years in Germany honing his skills. He's managed his best goalscoring season this year in his debut campaign for Die Knappen, scoring four times. Standing at 6'5", the Senegalese player is a real titan.
Previous AFCON wins: 1992, 2015
The 2015 AFCON champions return with something to prove. Experienced players like Jean Michael Seri and Wilfred Bony hope to use AFCON to return stronger than ever.
They aren’t the only ones hoping to get noticed. Mauritania boss Corentin Martins says “the selection has really become a showcase,” and that qualifications for recent tournaments have helped many of his players find clubs abroad.
Nicolas Pepe could prove to be a crowd pleaser. He's scored an impreesive 22 league goals and helped out with 11 assists in 37 league outings.