With Euros, Copa America And Gold Cup Done, All Eyes Are On Africa After AFCON Draw

The Africa Cup of Nations hasn't seen a repeat winner in over a decade. Can Algeria get the job done?

Defending champions Algeria were 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, won't have to play the Ivorians until the 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 the country's only previous time, has a tricky game against Burkina Faso in Yaounde in Group A on Jan. 9 and will also face Ethiopia and the Cape Verde Islands, who have been the Cameroonians' bogey side in recent qualifying competitions.

Egypt and Nigeria were paired together in Group D while Ghana and Morocco will compete in Group C.

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With the top two teams in each group plus the four best third-placed finishers advancing to the knockout stage, it is not expected there will be any early casualties among the fancied sides.

“It does look a balanced draw,” said Cameroon great Samuel Eto’o.

The Comoros Islands, who are in Group C, and Gambia, in Group F, will participate in the finals for the first time.

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 by a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It concludes on Feb. 6 next year.

Cameroon was supposed to host the 2019 finals but was stripped of the right by the Confederation of African Football when inspectors found Cameroon wasn't not ready. Egypt stepped in as hosts at the last minute.

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