Defending champions Algeria have been drawn with the Ivory Coast in a tough group for next January’s Africa Cup of Nations finals while hosts Cameroon will kick off the tournament against Burkina Faso.
Algeria, who won the 2019 edition in Egypt, will not face the Ivorians until their last Group E game, by which time both countries could have advanced from the first round at the expense of underdogs Equatorial Guinea and Sierra Leone.
Cameroon, hosting the tournament 50 years after their only previous time, have a tricky game against Burkina Faso in Yaounde in Group A on January 9 and will also face Ethiopia and the Cape Verde Islands, who have been their bogey side in recent qualifying competitions.
Several Premier League sides are set to be impacted by the tournament, with Liverpool and Arsenal among those most severely affected.
Liverpool will be without Egypt’s Mohamed Salah and Senegal forward Sadio Mane, while midfielder Naby Keita will also be in action for Guinea.
Arsenal will lose captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to Gabon, along with fellow forward Nicolas Pepe of the Ivory Coast, while midfielders Thomas Partey and Mohamed Elneny are also likely to play for Ghana and Egypt respectively.
Two stadiums in Yaounde plus newly built or refurbished venues in Bafoussam, Douala, Garoua and Limbe will be used in the tournament, which was postponed for a year because of the Covid-19 pandemic. It concludes on February 6 next year.
Manchester City winger Riyad Mahrez helped Algeria win the Africa Cup of Nations in 2019 thanks to his lone goal against Taranga Lions of Senegal. Can the Desert Warriors re-enact the feat they achieved in 2019?
Group A: Cameroon (hosts), Burkina Faso, Cape Verde Islands, Ethiopia
Group B: Guinea, Malawi, Senegal, Zimbabwe
Group C: Comoros Islands, Gabon, Ghana, Morocco
Group D: Egypt, Guinea Bissau, Nigeria, Sudan
Group E: Algeria, Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone
Group F: Gambia, Mali, Mauritania, Tunisia
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