By Alexander Adejoh
The 33rd edition of the Africa Cup of Nations will kick off January 2021, with 24 teams fighting to be crowned continental champions.
Following the end of the qualification stage, 24 teams are drawn into six groups comprising of four teams each.
The tournament is expected to kick off with a group stage after which the two best teams and four third-best teams from each group will progress to the knockout stages.
The quarter-finals, semi-finals and final will follow, with the losers of the semi-final facing off in a third-place fixture.
Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) is the biennial international men’s football championship in Africa organized by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) scheduled to take place between January 9 and February 6, 2021.
The tournament was originally scheduled for June and July 2021, but the Confederation of African Football (CAF) announced earlier that they would be moving the dates to a winter period due to the weather conditions of the summer.
Adjusting the stated date for the tournament by CAF was met with mixed receptions, with Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp criticizing the change, calling it a ‘disaster’ for his team due to its timing. Players such as Mohamned Salah and Sadio Mane would be due to participate in the competition.
‘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,’ Klopp said.
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.
Fides also gathered that all matches in the 2021 AFCON 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.
The 2021 AFCON qualification phase takes place from October 9, 2019 to September 8, 2020 featuring 52 teams.
Next January’s competition will be the 33rd of the competition and will be the second Africa Cup of Nations where the competition format expanded from 16 to 24 teams.