The 2019 Africa Cup of Nations starts today in Egypt.
The spectacular biannual African football competition has always been known to be exciting, intriguing captivating and filled with surprises. However, this year’s promises to be no different.
The 2019 African Cup of Nations will feature “24 countries” for the first time. Football lovers in many parts of the world are in high spirit to watch the 32nd edition of the African Nations Cup.
Here are few interesting facts about the spectacular football competition:
1. Cameroon are the reigning champions of Africa and this time around, they will face serious contest from other nations who are ready for this championship.
It should be recalled that Vincent Aboubakar came off the bench to score a stunning winner with two minutes left as Cameroon fought back to beat Egypt 2-1 in a thrilling 2017 Africa Cup of Nations final in Libreville, Gabon.
2. The AFCON 2019 was initially meant to be hosted by Cameroon but in November 2018, Cameroon was stripped of hosting the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations. The reasons were due to infrastructural delays, the insurgency and the Anglophone Crisis in Cameroon. Hence, by January 2019, Egypt was chosen to replace Cameroon as this year’s AFCON host.
3. The video assistant referees (VARs), which has generated much heated controversy will be used for the first time during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, starting from the Round of 16.
4. Tanzania will play the 2019 African Cup of Nations for the first time in 39 years. They qualified for the tournament under the leadership of Nigerian Emmanuel Amuneke.
5. Mauritania, Namibia and Burundi all qualified for the African Cup of Nations for the first time this year. Hence they will make their first ever AFCON appearance as newbies.
6. This will be the fifth time that Egypt will host the African Cup. Egypt had previously hosted the tournament in 1959, 1974 1986, 2006 and now 2019. They are now the country to have hosted it the most in the entire continent. Egypt will make use of 6 stadiums in 4 major cities for the tournament.
7. The most successful winners of AFCON has been Egypt with seven titles followed by Cameroon (five), Ghana (four), Nigeria (three) and the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Ivory Coast (two each).
8. Historically, Cameroonian Samuel Eto’o is the leading overall Cup of Nations scorer, notching 18 goals in six tournaments between 2000 and 2010.
9. 2019 will be the first time the tournament features 24 teams, this is in tandem to CAF decision to expand the tournament in order to enhance competitiveness.
10. Fourteen countries of the 54 nations of CAF have won the AFCON trophy The 14 countries are Egypt, Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria, DR Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Algeria, Ethiopia, Sudan, South Africa, Tunisia, Morocco, Congo-Brazzaville and Zambia while six others have reached the final without ever winning it, they are; Mali, Burkina Faso, Uganda, Guinea, Libya and Senegal.
by Alao Abiodun