AFCON Africa Cup of Nations: Results and Fixtures list
The full programme of all the matches for the 33rd edition of the African Cup of Nations, which takes place in Cameroon from 9 January to 6 February 2022. Plus all the scores. Updated daily.
By Alexis Billebault
Here are six particularly promising players to watch closely during the 2022 African Cup of Nations: André Onana (Cameroon), Sébastien Haller (Côte d'Ivoire), Hannibal Mejbri (Tunisia), Bamba Dieng (Senegal), Saïd Benrahma (Algeria), Ayoub El Kaabi (Morocco).
At every African Cup of Nations finals the spotlight is fierce; a chance for new stars to reveal themselves, for old hands to confirm their status, or let stuttering talent shine again.
The Indomitable Lions and Ajax Amsterdam goalkeeper has been sidelined for most of 2021. Andre Onana (26) tested positive during a doping control on 30 October 2020, explaining that he had taken a diuretic belonging to his wife “by mistake”. This argument did not convince Fifa, which suspended him for a year on 5 February, a sentence later reduced to nine months by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
The Barcelona-trained player returned to the national team in November, in the crucial match against Côte d’Ivoire (1-0) in the framework of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers, which enabled the Lions to validate their presence in the third round.
Onana, who should leave Ajax next summer, will undoubtedly be one of the main assets of Cameroon, considered as one of the favorites of the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon).
He has been performing well since his return, despite spending many months training alone. And he seems to want to draw a line under his misadventure which made him lose almost a year, an eternity in a high level career.
Born in France to a French father and an Ivorian mother, Sebastien Haller (27) chose to play for the Elephants in November 2020, after having worn the blue jersey of France in various youth teams. The striker has played for Auxerre, FC Utrecht (Netherlands), Eintracht Frankfurt (Germany) and West Ham United (England) and returned to the Netherlands – more precisely to Ajax Amsterdam – in January 2021.
The Ivorian international (8 caps, 3 goals) has been particularly successful with the Lanciers, especially in the Champions League group stage where he scored 10 goals in 6 games.
Patrice Beaumelle, the French coach of Côte d’Ivoire who was behind the striker’s decision to play for his mother’s country, is pleased every day that he was able to convince him. “He agreed to come because he wanted to, it was not a choice by default. He has adapted well; he is a player who already brings a lot to Côte d’Ivoire and who will continue to do so in the coming years.
It was on 23 May 2021, during a friendly match won by Tunisia against DR Congo (1-0), that Hannibal Mejbri wore the Carthage Eagles jersey for the first time. He could also have chosen to play for France, the country where he was born in January 2003. Since this first selection, the young midfielder has been regularly called upon by Mondher Kebaier, the Tunisian coach.
Trained at INF Clairefontaine and then passed through Monaco – without ever having played in Ligue 1 -, Mejbri joined the prestigious English club Manchester United in 2019 for a fee – including bonuses – of around 10 million euros. He made his English Premier League debut last May and, although he plays mainly for the Red Devils’ Under-21 team, new coach Ralf Rangnick seems determined to make more use of his talent.
The German coach said he was impressed by the young player, who put in some brilliant performances for his country at the Arab Cup of Nations last December, where the Eagles reached the final against Algeria (0-2).
Olympique de Marseille can look back on a close partnership with Diambars, the highly regarded Senegalese training centre from which PSG midfielder Idrissa Gueye graduated. In the summer of 2021, the Marseille club recruited promising 21-year-old striker Bamba Dieng, whom Diambars had loaned out to OM for the 2020-2021 season, for a very reasonable sum of €400,000.
Noticed in Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 in Senegal, the player has adapted quite quickly to his new environment, as evidenced by the few goals he has scored in the league (4) and the French Cup (1) since his arrival in France.
READ MORE CAN: Senegal’s Ismaïla Sarr is at the heart of a tug of war between Aliou Cissé and Claudio Ranieri
Aliou Cisse, the coach of the Lions of Teranga, called him up for the first time last October, during the qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup, with the stated objective of preparing a bright future that the native of Pikine embodies. And even if Dieng is not yet a full-fledged starter, his appearances in Cameroon will inevitably be followed closely, as several European clubs have already looked at his profile.
At 26 years of age, Algerian striker Saïd Benrahma has been one of the pleasant surprises of the first half of the premiership season in England.
The West Ham United player has put in a string of good performances, and Djamel Belmadi, the Fennecs coach, holds him in high regard. He is also one of the few Algerian internationals to have been born in his homeland, in Aïn Temouchent. However, it is in France, where he arrived at the age of 15, that he was trained, and more precisely at OGC Nice.
Often loaned out (Angers, GFC Ajaccio, Châteauroux) and rarely used by Nice, Benrahma’s career took off when he moved to Brentford, a modest English Championship club (Ligue 2), in 2018. Quickly spotted by West Ham, the Algerian quickly won over Hammers’ fans.
He scored his first international goal for Algeria last November in a 4-0 win over Djibouti in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers.
He is one of the most in-form strikers in recent weeks. Ayoub El Kaabi (27) finished as the second-highest scorer in the second round of African Zone qualifying for the 2022 World Cup (5 goals), and the Moroccan is also proving effective with his club Hatayspor (Turkey), which he joined in the last summer.
The Casablanca native made a name for himself during the 2017-2018 season, collecting goals with the Renaissance Sportive de Berkane and with the Moroccan national team, with whom he won the African Nations Championship organised by the kingdom. After scoring nine goals in that competition, El Kaabi signed a lucrative contract with Chinese club Hebei Fortune a few months later, but his performances did not live up to the investment made.
The striker returned to Morocco, and more precisely to WAC Casablanca, where he recovered before going into exile once again, to Turkey. And Vahid Halilhodzic, the coach of the Atlas Lions, will rely heavily on his efficiency in Cameroon.
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Claudio Ranieri, coach of the British club Watford, is still refusing to allow his Senegalese striker Ismaïla Sarr to play in the African Cup of Nations, which opens on 9 January in Cameroon. This attitude has been denounced by Aliou Cissé, the coach of the "Lions de la Teranga", but also by several high-profile African football players, including Samuel Eto'o.
As reports claiming that the AFCON will be postponed circulate, Samuel Eto'o has expressed his exasperation. The former international football star has just been elected head of the Cameroon Football Federation and says he will “devote all his energy to ensuring that this African Cup of Nations is held.”
Adama Traore of Mali, who now plays in Moldova, made his name during his long stay at TP Mazembe, from 2013 to 2018. The striker is also one of the big guns of his national team, which faces Mauritania on Sunday at the AFCON Africa Cup of Nations, held in Cameroon.
Cameroon's striker Vincent Aboubakar, who scored both goals in the opening match of the Africa Cup of Nations against Burkina Faso (2-1), does not have the same aura as his illustrious predecessors Milla, Omam-Biyik, Mboma or Eto'o.
The national outcry at Ghana’s poor start, amplified by the 1-1 draw with Gabon on Friday night, has become entangled with a sense that the Black Stars' most expensive player, Thomas Partey, is once again failing to make the expected impact.
Algeria will have to win against Côte d'Ivoire on Thursday in Douala if they want to extend their run in Cameroon, where they finished last in the group with just one point after two matches. If not, it will imitate the 1992 team, eliminated in the first round, two years after winning the CAN...
Who will finance the maintenance of the stadiums once Cameroon's African Cup of Nations (AFCON) is over? Headed by Ferdinand Ngoh Ngoh, the powerful secretary-general of the presidency, the task force in charge of organising the African Cup of Nations has sent Paul Biya to begin a project for the management of sports infrastructures once the competition is over.
With Ghana, Algeria and Nigeria all out of the tournament, and Senegal having stuttered unconvincingly in the group phase, Côte D’Ivoire seemed to be the most balanced of the bigger teams initially tipped to succeed. Much of that has to do with the midfield mix offered by Franck Kessie, Jean Michael Seri and – the least experienced of the trio – Ibrahim Sangaré.
The round of 16 of the 2021 African Cup of Nations saw the favourites Nigeria and Côte d'Ivoire fail to qualify, while Cameroon, Morocco and Senegal all qualified with difficulty. Gambia and Equatorial Guinea, for their part, eliminated Guinea and Mali.
Brilliant and several times decisive since the beginning of the African Cup of Nations (AFCON), the Burkina Faso goalkeeper Hervé Koffi will have a lot of work to do Wednesday evening against the Senegalese striker. And in particular Ismaïla Sarr, who scored when coming on as a substitute against Equatorial Guinea.
There is a risk of tonight’s semi-final shown between AFCON's two most successful teams degenerating into a stagnant midfield battle. If it does, much will depend on whether Mohamed Elneny or Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa gains the upper hand.
The Gambia participated in the first finals of the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) in their history, reaching the quarterfinals. They were beaten but with not without a fight, by Cameroon (0-2). Tom Saintfiet, the Belgian coach of the Scorpions, spoke about their surprising journey and the experience of the Gambian team in the country of the Indomitable Lions.
On Sunday night, Senegal became African champions for the first time in their history after they defeated Egypt (0-0, 4-2 on aggregate). Sadio Mané, who was voted best player of the AFCON, played a key role. The striker of the Lions of Teranga lived up to his potential in Cameroon.
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