Africa Cup of Nations tournament in January will see Algeria face Cote d'Ivoire in group stage

The top things to know about the delayed 2021 men's event, to be held in January and February 2022, following the group stage draw.

Picture by GALLO IMAGES

The battle to be crowned kings of African football will see holders Algeria face former champions Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) in the group stage of the CAF Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).

The draw for the 2021 edition, which has been delayed to 2022, was held on Tuesday (17th August), and also saw London 2012 Olympian Mohamed Salah (pictured above) and his Egypt team face three-time winners Nigeria in their group.

Two countries are making their debuts at the tournament - Gambia and Comoros.

The showpiece men's continental competition will kick off on 9 January 2022 and conclude on 6 February 2022 in Cameroon, with 24 countries competing.

What are the groups for the Africa Cup of Nations, following the draw?

The 24 nations were drawn into 6 groups.

Group A: Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Cape Verde.

Group B: Senegal, Zimbabwe, Guinea, Malawi.

Group C: Morocco, Ghana, Comoros, Gabon.

Group D: Nigeria, Egypt, Sudan, Guinea-Bissau.

Group E: Algeria, Sierra Leone, Equatorial Guinea, Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast).

Group F: Tunisia, Mali, Mauritania, Gambia.

The top two finishers in each group will progress through to the quarter-finals, along with the four highest ranked third placed teams.

Where is the Africa Cup of Nations 2021 being played in 2022?

AFCON will be hosted by Cameroon with matches set to be played across a total of six different stadiums.

Venues

· Ahmadou Ahidjo and Paul Biya Stadiums in Yaounde

· Limbe Stadium in Limbe

· Douala’s Japoma Stadium and Kouekong Stadium in Bafoussam

· Roumde Adjia Stadium in Garoua

The Paul Biya stadium, capable of hosting 60,000 people, has been chosen as the location of the tournament’s final.

How did countries qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations in 2022?

To make it as one of the 24 competition teams, countries first had to compete in the qualification tournament which took place over several months prolonged by pandemic restrictions.

Cameroon, who were automatically guaranteed one of the 24 places as hosts, decided to compete in the tournament as match practice. While Cameroon’s final ranking after the qualification tournament was ultimately inconsequential to its fate, their matches and results counted in determining the qualification of the other teams in their group.

The following teams qualified for AFCON 2021 as winners or runners-up of their groups:

Cameroon: Hosts/Group F winners

Mali: Group A winners

Guinea: Group A runners-up

Burkina Faso: Group B winners

Malawi: Group B runners-up

Ghana: Group C winners

Sudan: Group C runners-up

Gambia: Group D winners

Gabon: Group D runners-up

Morocco: Group E winners

Mauritania: Group E runners-up

Cape Verde: Group F runners-up

Egypt: Group G winners

Comoros: Group G runners-up

Algeria: Group H winners

Zimbabwe: Group H runners-up

Senegal: Group I winners

Guinea-Bissau: Group I runners-up

Tunisia: Group J winners

Equatorial Guinea: Group J runners-up

Ivory Coast: Group K winners

Ethiopia: Group K runners-up

Nigeria: Group L winners

Sierra Leone: Group L runners-up

AFCON 2021 match schedule and how to watch

The opening match of the tournament is pencilled for Sunday 9 January 2022, with kick-off set at 17:00 local time in Cameroon.

The group stage will conclude on Thursday 20 January with the top two from each group and the four highest ranked third placed teams progressing through.

The round of 16 action will begin on Sunday 23 January and close on Wednesday 26 January.

The quarter-finals will take place over two days (Saturday 29 January and Sunday 30 January) allowing for two rests days once again before the semi-finals begin on Wednesday 2 February and Thursday 3 February.

The AFCON 2021 final will take place on Sunday 6 February with kick-off scheduled for 20:00 local time.

Full details of television broadcast and digital streaming coverage will be confirmed nearer the start of the tournament, with the details to follow on the Olympics.com website and official Olympics social media channels.

Mane AFCON
Picture by 2019 Getty Images