Africa Cup, for everyone, by everyone


Everything is ready in Ivory Coast for the 34th edition of the African national football team tournament, where twenty-four teams across six different stadiums will play for the coveted trophy in a competition that has increasingly risen in quality in recent years.

Long gone are the days when the Africa Cup of Nations was synonymous with matches of very low technical quality. The current globalization of football has certainly raised the level of many African national teams, considering the number of players who perform in Europe’s top clubs. This tournament holds immense social significance in those countries where people dream, for once, of cheering on their own favorites, aiming for a result that can make them forget their daily struggles. Moreover, it serves as a showcase and a launching pad for unknown athletes, where scouts have yet to arrive.

This is the Africa Cup of Nations, a tournament for everyone, where there won’t be a shortage of endearing moments of football and dynamics closer to reality, far from the pedestal where we are accustomed to seeing matches of top European leagues. Playing in summer is impossible due to scorching temperatures, hence the choice of dates from January 13th to February 11th, much to the chagrin of those European clubs deprived of their respective players.

Twenty-four national teams qualified in a format that included a preliminary round with home and away matches played on March 23rd and 29th, 2022. This was followed by a phase with twelve groups of four teams each, where the group winners secured a spot in the final phase (Ivory Coast admitted as the tournament’s host nation),

with certainties, surprises, and growth paths for those aiming to reach the pinnacle and those for whom mere participation is a victory, regardless of the outcome. Considering their performance in the last World Cup, attention is on Morocco, but watch out for perennially strong teams like Ivory Coast, Algeria, Senegal, Egypt, and notably Nigeria. Cameroon, however, faces difficulties due to a generational turnover that distances them from their form of a few years ago. Struggling in the qualifications, for instance, players like Sadio Mane and Edouard Mendy play in Saudi Arabia, so their condition in a primarily physical game will be crucial, focusing on athletic endurance in closely scheduled matches.

These are the groups, with the top two from each group and the four best third-placed teams advancing to the Round of 16: Group A: Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau Group B: Egypt, Ghana, Cape Verde, Mozambique Group C: Senegal, Cameroon, Guinea, Gambia Group D: Algeria, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Angola Group E: Tunisia, Mali, South Africa, Namibia Group F: Morocco, DR Congo, Zambia, Tanzania.

In the last edition, Senegal emerged victorious in the final against Egypt, with Cameroon securing the third place against Burkina Faso. The tournament promises an exciting spectacle.

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Gianluca Puzzo

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Gianluca Puzzo

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