2019 Africa Cup of Nations begins

2019 Africa Cup of Nations begins

The competition kicks off in Egypt this week, with 24 teams in the running.

Originally planned to take place in Cameroon, the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations kicks off in Egypt on 21 June. The first Afcon to feature 24 teams, as opposed to the traditional 16, will see the hosts look to secure the trophy for the eighth time in their history – with Cameroon the next closest on five titles.

In the last edition back in 2017, Cameroon were able to beat Egypt 2-1 in the final to snatch the glory in Gabon, with Egypt last taking continental silverware back in 2010. There is plenty of Premier League intrigue in the competition, given the number of players based in Britain that will be pulling on their country’s colours over the next month.

Who are the favourites?

Egypt are both the host nation and the favourites this summer (9-2), while Senegal (13-2), Ghana (8-1) and Nigeria (8-1) make up a top four. Given that the hosts find themselves in Group A alongside Uganda, DR Congo and Zimbabwe, they are expected to make light work of the group phase and will be pushed on by their home advantage – especially in terms of atmosphere.

Throw in the superpowers of Mohamed Salah, who has scored 39 goals in 62 games for his country, and the level of belief in the Pharaohs is easy to understand. Last time that Egypt hosted the tournament, back in 2006, they beat the Ivory Coast on penalties after extra-time.

Nigeria can call upon some very interesting talents for their Afcon squad, namely the likes of Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi, Leicester midfielder Wilfred Ndidi and Villarreal starlet Samuel Chukwueze, while the likes of Ahmed Musa, Odion Ighalo and Kelechi Iheanacho offer considerable firepower up front.

Senegal boast a strong spine of Liverpool star Sadio Mane, Napoli stalwart Kalidou Koulibaly and all-action Everton midfielder Idrissa Gueye, while Ghana have Thomas Partey, Cristian Atsu and the Ayew brothers in their travelling squad. Asamoah Gyan kicked up a big fuss when stripped of the Black Stars’ captaincy last month, requiring a personal request from the president of Ghana himself to swallow his pride and not retire from international duty.

What prize money is on offer?
Reaching the quarter-finals: $800,000 per team

Fourth place: $2m

Third place: $2m

Runners-up: $2.5m

Winners: $4.5m