2021 AFCON: Competition Promises Fireworks

With already 23 countries qualified, expectations are high as Cameroon prepares to host the African football bonanza next year.

Countries that will take part in the 2021 Total Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon are now known. So far, 23 out of 24 countries have booked their tickets for the African football bonanza.  This year’s edition is the second to be extended to 24 teams. The last playing day of the qualifying tournament took place on Tuesday, March 30, 2021 on the continent.

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Apart from the host country, Cameroon, other football power houses notably Algeria, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria, Morocco and Tunisia had long qualified for the competition. During the last playing day, three countries- Guinea-Bissau, Ethiopia and Mauritania qualified for the competition. The winner of the match between Benin and Sierra Leone will determine the last team to complete the list of qualified countries for the AFCON. The match was postponed to a later date due to COVID-19 controversy. The final group L match was postponed after Benin refused to accept the result of COVID -19 tests presented to them by the hosts. Reports from CAF say the last qualifying match between Benin and Sierra Leone will take place in June.

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Cape Verde beat Mozambique 1-0 in Mozambique to join Cameroon in group F. They will be appearing in the competition for the third time. From the results after the sixth playing day some countries considered as favourites of the AFCON will watch the competition at home. Among the major absentees in next year’s competition are Uganda, South Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, Kenya, Togo, Zambia, Congo and Madagascar. Two countries will be making their debut in the Africa Cup of Nations. They are Gambia and Comoros Island. The Scorpions of Gambia qualified for the AFCON for the first time ever in Banjul last Thursday after a slim 1-0 victory over Angola. Gambia finished top of group D with ten points ahead of Gabon, DR Congo and Angola. Despite their 0-1 defeat to the DR Congo in their last game, they finished top of the group with ten points.

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Comoros Island equally qualified for the AFCON for the first time in their history after picking up a point in a 0-0 draw with Togo at home on Thursday March 25. They finished second in group G with nine points; four points behind group leaders Egypt. Other irregulars in the competition include Mali, Guinea, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Gabon, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and Malawi. All have appeared in the competition at least once, but are yet to go beyond the group stage.   

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