The 33rd edition of the African Cup of Nations, also known as AFCON, is upon us. The biennal African tournament is due to kick off on the 9th of January, 2022, till the 6th of February, when the finals are expected to be played. A total of 24 nations will slug it out for Africa’s biggest football trophy.
As the excitement continues to build in these next couple of weeks, let us take a look at who are the favorites to lift this edition of the AFCON.
The Indomitable Lions will be looking to follow in the footsteps of other countries like Ghana, Egypt, Nigeria, etc., who hosted and won the tournament. Cameroon will be hoping they can count on vociferous home support to propel them to their 6th AFCON title. The Toni Conceicao-coached side might not have many of the stand-out talents of past AFCONs, but they will be hoping that team spirit and discipline that saw them through the second round of Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifying will play a huge part.
The Teranga Lions arguably have the most talented national team on the continent. The likes of Liverpool’s Sadio Mane, Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, and Napoli defensive stalwart Kalidou Koulibaly will be relied upon to deliver this West African country’s first elusive AFCON title. Senegal coach Aliou Cisse will be hoping to go a step further next year and win the whole tournament. The 2021 AFCON will present a great opportunity for Senegal’s golden generation to win a trophy.
The Atlas Lions are back and look hungrier than ever to try and win only their second-ever AFCON title. The Moroccans are dripping from head to toe with talent like Sevilla forward Youssef En-Nesyri, wingback wizard Achraf Hakimi and creator Hakim Ziyech. Coach Vahid Halilhodzic will be hoping to take their fine Qatar 2022 World Cup second-round qualifying form into Cameroon next year and conquer all before them.
The Super Eagles might not have had the most convincing run of games under former manager Gernot Rohr, but make no mistakes, the 3-time AFCON winners are not to be underestimated. Africa’s 5th best side boasts of some talent of their own in Leicester City duo of Wilfred Ndidi and Kelechi Iheanacho, Union Berlin’s Taiwo Awoniyi, and red-hot Emmanuel Dennis of Watford. Despite the likelihood of their talisman Victor Osimhen missing the tournament due to injury Nigeria still has enough tools in the locker to deliver her fourth AFCON title.
The AFCON defending champions are hot favorites to return the title they won so convincingly last time out. The Desert Foxes have been on an incredible run 37-game unbeaten run since 2018. The Djamel Belmadi-led team will be pretty confident of a repeat performance going into next year’s tournament. They qualified for the 2021 AFCON in convincing fashion, and will hope to win the tournament back-to-back.