Africa Cup of Nations 2021: Cameroon prepares for the start of a major tournament in the third time of its request

The stage is set for the Africa Cup of Nations to silence its cynics as this year’s centerpiece finally prepares to kick off …

  • The 2021 Africa Cup of Nations is finally due to start in Cameroon on Sunday
  • Big African tournament has been moved twice due to Covid-19 issues
  • A number of Premier League bosses were not happy to release players mid-season
  • But the likes of Mohamed Salah and Riyad Mahrez are finally ready to fight
  • Mahrez’s Algeria and Senegal are joint favorites to win the tournament

After two false starts and attempts by critics to apparently provoke a third, the 33rd African Cup of Nations is finally here. With that comes the opportunity.

For Cameroon to be in the spotlight as a host country for the first time since 1972, welcoming and showcasing the best talents from Africa.

And for this football-loving country to prove it can safely host a major tournament that has been moved twice because of Covid.

The 2021 Africa Cup of Nations must finally start in Cameroon this Sunday

Some of the biggest stars in world football, including Mohamed Salah (left), will take part

Some of the biggest stars in world football, including Mohamed Salah (left), will take part


Sebastien haller (Ivory Coast)

Today’s Sebastien Haller is very different from the West Ham striker sold for a huge loss just 18 months after signing him for £ 45million. Resurrected since joining Ajax and likely to be in contention for the Golden Boot.

Hannibal mejbri (Tunisia)

The talented Manchester United midfielder who interim manager Ralf Rangnick is watching. International duty limited the time Mejbri, 18, spent with Rangnick, so Afcon represents a chance to impress his new boss.

Pope Matar Sarr (Senegal)

A young midfielder that Tottenham fans will want to watch. Sarr (above) will join Antonio Conte’s side this summer after joining Spurs for £ 14.5million last year before being loaned to Metz.

Samuel chukwueze (Nigeria)

Preparation for the tournament saw Nigeria’s offensive threat weakened by dropouts, but Villarreal star Chukwueze remains. The 22-year-old right-winger will be one of the Super Eagles’ main dangers.

Steven caulker (Sierra Leone)

Former Spurs defender Caulker (right) has resumed his career in Turkey. He is now starting an international adventure after moving from England, which he played for once, to Sierra Leone.

There is discontent, if not anger, in Africa over the tone of some of the pre-tournament whining in Europe and in particular some in the Premier League about releasing players. “Why the hypocrisy towards Africa? »Declared an official of the African Football Confederation. ‘It annoys me.’

The tournament is taking place in its usual mid-season slot, so it’s no surprise to the clubs, but Covid has given them yet another reason to complain. The European Club Association even told FIFA of its “deep concerns” about the welfare of the players last year following the emergence of the Omicron variant.

Then there are security issues. Of the six host cities, only the coastal town of Limbe – which will host eight matches – is in the troubled southwest region and seen as a potential concern.

The surrounding rural areas of Limbe, in the English-speaking part of Cameroon, have been the scene of armed attacks since 2017 due to a domestic conflict involving English-speaking separatists clashing with government forces. Armored vehicles are commonplace in remote areas of Limbe.

In the capital Yaoundé, residents noted increased levels of security, with more police, gendarmes and traffic officers on patrol. But this is to be expected for a tournament of this profile and will be further intensified, in part to reassure.

In Cameroon, they have lived in this climate for years, which perhaps explains why the country is calm before the final stages. Last year’s African Nations Championship, which included matches in Limbe, went off without a hitch, building confidence in a tournament without incident.

This year’s scrutiny has only sharpened the minds of those charged with ensuring the safety of all, especially since the horror of the terrorist attack on the Togo team bus before the 2010 tournament in Angola is still present in mind.

Football has the potential to give Cameroon a boost, even temporarily, as it did in 2017 when it won its last Africa Cup of Nations and sparked crazy celebratory scenes in the affected regions. .

And when Cameroon won the tournament in 1988, still amid unrest, the trophy was presented to all 10 regions.

Due to Covid, which has impacted a number of competing countries including Gabon and Senegal, participation in Cameroon matches will be capped at 80% and 60% in other matches.

Premier League bosses such as Jurgen Klopp aren't happy to have lost key players mid-season

Premier League bosses such as Jurgen Klopp aren’t happy to have lost key players mid-season

Security concerns are also likely to play a role throughout this year's tournament in Cameroon.

Security concerns are also likely to play a role throughout this year’s tournament in Cameroon.

But there will be football and the home advantage raised the expectations of the five-time winners to reach the final. Coach Toni Conceicao said: “People here don’t forgive failure.”

Egypt, led by Mohamed Salah, are under pressure to extend their record as CAN’s most successful team and win for the eighth time. But Sadio Mane and Edouard Mendy’s Senegal are the favorites to triumph for the first time with defending champion Algeria, led by Riyad Mahrez of Manchester City and who once again imagined a world record of 39 games unbeaten. .

The Ivory Coast has the offensive threat of Sébastien Haller, Wilfried Zaha and Nicolas Pepe to make them also external contenders.

The Cameroonian climate and the pandemic have led to this tournament being postponed twice but the highly anticipated first whistle will sound tomorrow when Cameroon faces Burkina Faso in Olembe.

The stage is set.

But the centerpiece will still be able to provide a lift for the country within the next month.

But the centerpiece will still be able to provide a lift for the country within the next month.

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