Your Complete Guide To Watching Africa Cup Of Nations In The USA
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In a strictly sporting sense, the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations arrives at exactly the right moment (there are a lot of non-sporting reasons why this is not at all an optimum time). In Europe, the coming month will be dominated by transfer nonsense, the ever-tightening grip of the domestic title favorites and no Champions League football.
Between Jan. 9 and Feb. 6 in Cameroon, AFCON promises to deliver a remedy for each of those ills: the pure passion of the international game, total unpredictability and a showcase of some of the world's most brilliant footballers.
To the first point, African players have shown zero hesitancy in doing whatever it takes to represent their nations in Cameroon despite the host country's ongoing Anglophone Crisis and a fourth wave of COVID-19.
Ajax striker Sebastien Haller quickly cut through the bullshit, saying questions over his decision to represent the Ivory Coast were nothing more than thinly-masked attacks on the continent.
"This question shows the disrespect for Africa," Haller told De Telegraaf. "Would this question ever get asked to a European player ahead of the Euros? Of course I am going to the Africa Cup. Of course I will go to the Africa Cup to represent Ivory Coast. That is the highest honor."
Ian Wright, Patrick Vieira and Samuel Eto'o have all joined in saying that AFCON is the most disrespected tournament in the world, and proof can be seen across social media with various outlets seemingly only ever interested in watching a full-strength Liverpool play a full-strength Manchester City until kingdom come.
Which brings us to our second point — some much needed unpredictability. According to FiveThirtyEight, the percentage odds of the title races in Europe's top five leagues at midseason are as follows:
Bundesliga: Bayern Munich, 99%
Ligue 1: PSG, 96%
EPL: Manchester City, 85%
LaLiga: Real Madrid, 79%
Serie A: Inter Milan, 77%
Since Egypt won back-to-back-to-back AFCON titles between 2006 and 2010, we've had five tournaments, five different winners and nine different finalists. This year, Nigeria, Morocco, Egypt, Senegal, Ivory Coast and Algeria are all among the favorites, while you could also make arguments for Tunisia, Ghana and the host nation.
Finally, with the UCL Round of 16 beginning nine days after the final, this is the world's greatest stage over the next month. There are global stars on every squad — Algeria's Riyad Mahrez, Egypt's Mohamed Salah, Senegal's Sadio Mané, Gabon's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Ghana's Thomas Partey, Morocco's Achraf Hakimi, Nigeria's Wilfred Ndidi, Ivory Coast's Wilfried Zaha, etc. — and the thrill of seeing some of football's brightest talents, like 21-year-old Ajax and Ghana sensation Mohammed Kudus, 23-year-old Napoli and Nigeria attacker Victor Osimhen, 21-year-old Sassuolo and Ivory Coast midfielder Hamed Traorè, 18-year-old Manchester United and Tunisia midfielder Hannibal Mejbri and 22-year-old RB Salzburg and Mali midfielder Mohamed Camara.
It's always a beautiful tournament for fans of attacking football. Personally, I still think about Ola Aina's assist from 2019 every single day.
Assist. Quite goodpic.twitter.com/IVj8VC6hiv— Nick Harris (@sportingintel) June 22, 2019
One thing holding the tournament back is its broadcast availability, and that's unfortunately the case again this year. The TV rights are held by beIN SPORTS with matches being broadcast on beIN, beIN SPORTS en Español and beIN SPORTS XTRA.
If you're looking to stream, you'll be able to watch all the matches on Fanatiz (free trial, $7.99/month), fuboTV ($64.99/month) and SlingTV ($35/month).
How To Watch AFCON In USA 2022: beIN SPORTS TV and Streaming Providers
How To Watch AFCON In USA 2022 (2021 Africa Cup Of Nations In Cameroon): TV Schedule
Images courtesy of beIN SPORTS.