By Bariyo Brian Tumuramye
The top African stars from the Premier League and the rest of world football will depart their clubs to take part in the bi-annual AFCON tournament.
Clubs across world football will be without their top African stars next month as the African Cup of Nations returns.
There is still some doubt as to whether or not the bi-annual competition will take place, or if clubs will release players to their respective nations even if it does, due to concerns regarding the spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19.
The 33rd AFCON will take place from 9 January to 6 February 2022 in Cameroon.
The tournament was originally scheduled to be played in June and July 2021 but the Confederation of African Football (CAF) announced the postponement till January due to “unfavourable climatic conditions”.
Host nation Cameroon is due to face Burkina Faso in the opening match while reigning champions Algeria get their defence of the trophy underway against Sierra Leon.
Egypt, led by Liverpool striker Mo Salah, are the favourites to win the 2021 edition of the tournament and start off with an eye-catching tie against Nigeria.
2021 African Cup of Nations Fixtures
The opening stages of the AFCON are divided up into groups before entering a straight knockout format.
There are six groups of four nations in total.
Here are the fixtures for the opening stages of the 2021 AFCON:
- Cameroon v Burkina Faso (09/01/2022)
- Ethiopia v Cape Verde (09/01/2022)
- Senegal v Zimbabwe (10/01/2022)
- Guinea v Malawi (10/01/202)
- Morocco v Ghana (10/01/2022)
- Comoros v Gabon (10/01/2022)
- Algeria v Sierra Leone (11/01/2022)
- Nigeria v Egypt (11/01/2022)
- Sudan v Guinea-Bissau (11/01/2022)
- Tunisia v Mali (12/01/2022)
- Mauritania v Gambia (12/01/2022)
- Equatorial Guinea v Ivory Coast (12/01/2022)
- Cameroon v Ethiopia (13/01/2022)
- Cape Verde v Burkina Faso (13/01/2022)
- Senegal v Guinea (14/01/2022)
- Malawi v Zimbabwe (14/01/2022)
- Morocco v Comoros (14/01/2022)
- Gabon v Ghana (14/01/2022)
- Nigeria v Sudan (15/01/2022)
- Guinea-Bissau v Egypt (15/01/2022)
- Gambia v Mali (16/01/2022)
- Ivory Coast v Sierra Leone (16/01/2022)
- Tunisia v Mauritania (16/01/2022)
- Algeria v Equatorial Guinea (16/01/2022)
- Burkina Faso v Ethiopia (17/01/2022)
- Cape Verde v Cameroon (17/01/2022)
- Zimbabwe v Guinea (18/01/2022)
- Malawi v Senegal (18/01/2022)
- Ghana v Comoros (18/01/2022)
- Gabon v Morocco (18/01/2022)
- Egypt v Sudan (19/01/2022)
- Guinea-Bissau v Nigeria (19/01/2022)
- Sierra Leone v Equatorial Guinea (20/01/2022)
- Ivory Coast v Algeria (20/01/2022)
- Mali v Mauritania (20/01/2022)
- Gambia v Tunisia (20/01/2022)
African Cup Of Nations Covid-19 Entry Rules
Anyone planning on travelling to Cameroon for the tournament should familiarise themselves with all the latest UK Government advice.
It is advised not to travel to certain areas of Cameroon and to avoid “all but essential travel” to other areas.
A change of host nation had previously been discussed and, while everything is in place, the Omicron variant may yet cause a rethink for the CAF.