The 2021 Africa Cup of Nations is set to commence in Cameroon on January 9 after suffering a delay and being postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
With five days away from the start of the tournament, Joy Sports takes a look at Group A, which has host nation Cameroon, one-time winners Ethiopia, Burkina Faso and Cape Verde.
Cameroon have 20 appearances at the AFCON, winning on five occasions (1984, 1988, 2000, 2002, 2017).
The Central African side is coached by Antonio Canceicao with Vincent Aboubakar leading the charge for the Indomitable Lions.
Cameroon’s last experience at the continental showpiece in Egypt, ended in the one-eight stage, where they lost to Nigeria with a 3-2 scoreline. They played under former France international Clarence Seedorf.
Playing as the host nation, Cameroon have the home advantage in their games but that may not be their only weapons with the likes of Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Olympique Lyon’s Karl Toko Ekambi in their ranks.
Cameroon’s first task at the 33rd edition of the AFCON will be against Burkina Faso on January 9 before facing Ethiopia and Cape Verde.
Since making their best finish in AFCON during the 2013 edition, Burkina Faso have failed to replicate such performances.
The Stallions missed out on the last edition of the showpiece as they failed to qualify having progressed to the knockout stages in 2017.
Burkina Faso have made 12 appearances at the AFCON since their debut appearance in 1978.
While Kamou Malo will be guiding the team from the touchlines, RS Berkane’s Issoufou Dayo will wear the armband on the pitch for the team.
Bertrand Traore, Edmond Tapsoba and Issa Kabore will be some of the players to watch on the side of the Stallions.
A game against Cameroon in the opening round will be followed with encounters with Cape Verde and Ethiopia respectively.
Ethiopia won the Africa Cup of Nations in 1962, beating Egypt to the title in their home country.
With 11 appearances under their belt, Ethiopia have a bit of experience going into the competition in Cameroon.
The Walia Ibex lads are back in the competition for the first time since 2013, where they failed to win a group game, finishing bottom in Group C.
Getaneh Kebede will captain the squad in Cameroon under head coach, Wubetu Abate, who is hoping his side stands a chance to advance from the group this time around.
Ethiopia will face Cape Verde in their first game before playing Ethiopia and Burkina Faso.
The tournament in Cameroon will be Cape Verde’s third appearance at the Africa Cup of Nations, having participated in the 2013 and 2015 editions.
The Blue Sharks performance at the AFCON came during the maiden appearance, where they advanced to the quarter-final stage before suffering a 2-0 defeat to Ghana.
With 12 goals in 55 appearances for the national team, Al-Nasr’s Ryan Mendes will be one of the players to keep an eye on in Group A.
Head coach, Pedro Leitao Brito will also be hoping his side can at least get back to their best. Cape Verde have lost just one of their last five games across all competitions.
The Blue Sharks will face Ethiopia before battling it out with Burkina Faso and Cameroon.
Group A fixtures
Sunday 9 January: Cameroon v Burkina Faso, Ethiopia v Cape Verde
Thursday 13 January: Cameroon v Ethiopia, Cape Verde v Burkina Faso