2024 AFRICA CUP - kick-off in two days

Who to watch out for at Afcon

11 Jan 2024

2024 AFRICA CUP - kick-off in two days

The Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) kicks off on Saturday 13 January, with Ivory Coast staging the finals for the second time. Originally scheduled to be held throughout June and July 2023, the tournament was moved to avoid a clash with the West African rainy season. The final will take place on Sunday 11 February. The hosts will open the tournament with their first match while record seven-time champions Egypt are also in action on the first weekend.
Current Afcon holders Senegal begin the defence of their title on Monday 15 January. The tournament brings in Africa's best players which means they'll be away from their clubs - including Premier League stars like Mo Salah - for as long as their countries stay in the contest.
Here's what you need to know.
How does Afcon work?
The competition was first held in 1958 and has grown over the years.
Ivory Coast will welcome Africa's best footballers for the first time since 1984.
The 24 teams competing for the title this year have been split into six groups of four teams.
The top two teams in each group and the four best-ranked third-placed teams will go through to the last 16, with quarter-finals, semi-finals, a match for third place and the final to follow. 
The Afcon groups
• Group A: Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau.
• Group B: Egypt, Ghana, Cape Verde, Mozambique.
• Group C: Senegal, Cameroon, Guinea, The Gambia.
• Group D: Algeria, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Angola.
• Group E: Tunisia, Mali, South Africa, Namibia.
• Group F: Morocco, DR Congo, Zambia, Tanzania.
Who to watch out for at Afcon
Liverpool will be missing Mo Salah during the tournament
Mohamed Salah's Egypt, the most successful team in the competition's history, haven't won since 2010.
They lost the last final on penalties so will that spur them to victory this time around?
Can Morocco's World Cup stars like Hakimi, Amrabat and Ziyech smash it at Afcon too?
In 2022, Morocco became the first side from the continent to reach a World Cup semi-final in Qatar.
The Atlas Lions are the highest African nation in the world rankings - but have not won a Nations Cup since 1976.
Lamine Camara is the Young African Player of the Year
Reigning champs Senegal are among the favourites to hold onto their title, with stars including former Premier League players Sadio Mane, Kalidou Koulibaly and Edouard Mendy. They also have younger talents such as Tottenham midfielder Pape Matar Sarr and 19-year-old Lamine Camara who was recently named African young player of the year.
Three-time winners Nigeria haven't won since 2013, but this year boast the African Player of the Year in their squad.
Victor Osimhen, 24, was top scorer in Italy's Serie A as Napoli won a first title since 1990. Victor Osimhen has scored 20 goals in 27 senior international appearances for Nigeria.
11 Jan 2024
(BBC News)

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