AFRICA CUP OF NATIONS: The biennial competition was rescheduled to start in January, exactly a year after its originally scheduled kick-off date.

The 33rd edition of the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) was set to be held in Cameroon from January 9 to February 6, 2022.

The biennial competition had been initially scheduled to take place between June and July of 2021. However, the Confederation of African Football (Caf) pushed it back to January and February owing to unfavourable climatic conditions in West-Central Africa at the proposed time.

Why is it still referred to as 2021 Afcon?

After the successful 2019 edition held in Egypt, in which Algeria defeated Senegal 1-0 in the final to be crowned, the next edition was to be held after two years – as per the norm.

The road to Cameroon had started well with the preliminary round as well as two matchdays had been played between October 9 and November 19, 2019. The qualifiers were then postponed after the outbreak of Covid-19 in the continent.

After a special sitting, Caf decided to push the competition to early 2022 after what they termed as ‘consultations with the stakeholders,’ but the name was retained.

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On March 31, 2021, Caf, eventually, settled for January 9-February 6 2022 as the final date the competition will be held, exactly a year after its originally scheduled kick-off date.

Who are the 24 teams that qualified?

Apart from the hosts and the defending champions Algeria, Egypt, Senegal – who finished second in the 2019 edition, Ghana, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Tunisia, Mali, and Morocco are among the 24 teams that will be battling for the trophy.

Other teams completing the list are Burkina Faso, Guinea, Comoros, Gabon, Gambia, Equatorial Guinea, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Malawi, Ethiopia, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania, Cape Verde and Sierra Leone.

The teams was divided into six groups with four teams each, and the top two will automatically seal their places in the knockout phase. The remaining four slots will be filled by the best third-placed finishers.

The first match is scheduled to be played at Olembe Stadium in Yaounde between the Indomitable Lions and Burkina Faso which will be followed by Ethiopia and Cape Verde.

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