The long wait is finally over. The 2021 Africa Cup of Nations gets underway on Sunday, January 9, with hosts Cameroon tussling it out with Burkina Faso at Paul Biya Stadium in Group A.
It is important to note that before Sunday’s kick-off, there have been several challenges regarding the staging of the biggest football showpiece on the African continent.
First things first, the tournament was initially meant for June-July 2021. But because of Cameroon’s weather conditions during that period, it was pushed back to January 2021.
However, due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic the world over in 2020, it was postponed until January 2022.
And with everything set for the tournament to finally get running, European clubs and FIFA in one way or the other wanted the AFCON to be postponed further.
But with all the boldness and determination, CAF stood its ground for the competition to be staged without any more delays in Cameroon.
It will surely be excitement across the entire continent when the Indomitable Lions and the Stallions emerge from the tunnel for the first game of the one month tourney.
Cameroon, who last won it in 2017, will be hoping for a perfect start as they look for a sixth title, having also won it in 1984, 1988, 2000 and 2002.
Burkina Faso will be out searching for their maiden AFCON trophy. Their best performance at the tournament was in 2013 when they finished runners up, losing the final to Nigeria.
During the qualifiers, Cameroon was pooled in Group F, which they topped with 11 points, whilst Burkina Faso also finished top of Group B on 12 and most notably unbeaten.
Burkina Faso will be a real test for Cameroon to begin their tournament with, given that the latter have not defeated the former in their last three meetings. They shared spoil twice while the Stallions won the other game.
Bayern Munich striker Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting will be amongst the players to rely on for goals for Cameroon tactician Antonio Conceicao.
Whereas Aston Villa’s Bertrand Traore is available for Kamou Malo’s side and he was on target for the winner when the two sides last met in a friendly in 2018.
The other fixture of Group A will be between 1962 champions Ethiopia and Cape Verde whose best performance was a quarterfinal finish in 2013.