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A few days before the kickoff of the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations which is due on January 9, who are the favorites to lift the trophy for the 33rd edition in Yaoundé on February 6? Algeria, Senegal, Morocco, Ivory Coast… Review of the forces involved.
Twenty-four nations to succeed Algeria and a single crown. While CAN-2022 begins Sunday, January 9 in Yaoundé, France 24 analyzes the forces present. Here are the favorites, underdogs and teams to watch for the 33e edition of the African Cup.
Defending champion, Algeria is the main favorite to her succession. The country flew over the qualifiers for the African Cup of Nations and those for the 2022 World Cup (4 wins and 2 draws in both cases). Above all, the team of Djamel Belmadi remains on an impressive series of unbeaten 33 matches without defeat in all competitions, African record in progress. And, as if that were not enough, his team A ‘(without the European players) has just won the Arab Cup in Qatar, led by Youcef Belaïli and Yacine Brahimi, on fire during the tournament. Be careful, however, the status of ultra-favored can be heavy to assume.
What if this edition in Cameroon was the right one for the Teranga Lions? The question comes up with insistence at each African Cup while Senegal is still in search of the first trophy in its history. Finalists in Egypt where they lost to Algeria, the men ofAliou Cisse will again be serious contenders for the final victory. The workforce is of high quality, between the best African goalkeeper in activity, Edouard mendy, the superstar Sadio Mané or even Kalidou Koulibaly, Idrissa Gueye, Abdou Diallo and the young Bamba Dieng.
You should always beware of the sleeping lion. On paper, Cameroon may not have the best squad in their history but they will have the advantage of playing at home. Moreover, during his last coronation in Gabon, nobody saw him champion. History could repeat itself. In any case, the Portuguese coach of the Indomitable Lions, Antonio Conceiçao, believes in it. He set the goal of “reaching at least the final”.
Impressive or not, the Pharaohs are the eternal favorites of the CAN. Most successful selection of the African Cup of Nations (7 times champion, including three times in a row in 2006, 2008 and 2010), Egypt was reassured in the qualifiers after a CAN at home completely missed. Brilliant in England and Europe with Liverpool, Mohamed salah will try to carry his homeland to a new continental title.
• The outsiders
An iron defense in the CAN qualifiers (only one goal conceded), a fiery attack in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers (20 goals scored, the second best total behind Algeria) and CHAN-2020… The Atlas Lions are hungry and have become a war machine. Their collective is so well established that coach Vahid Halilhodzic can afford the luxury of dismissing players Hakim Ziyech (Chelsea), Noussair Mazraoui (Ajax Amsterdam) or Amine Harit (OM) without affecting his performance.
The quality of Maghrebian football is no longer to be proven. It is therefore far from illogical to find Tunisia on this list alongside regional neighbors. The Carthage Eagles have signed the best accounting result of the group stages with 16 points (5 wins and a draw) and can now believe in their chances of success. Local coach Mondher Kebaier is doing a good job with the team he led to the Arab Cup final but which seems to be suffering against the big teams. If he wants to take his family to a second coronation after that of 2004, he will have to find the solution.
A young and enthusiastic squad, a respected coach in the person of Mohamed Magassouba, encouraging performances, a flawless performance in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers and above all an iron defense … Mali has no shortage of arguments before disembarking at the World Cup. Cameroon. The Eagles could well be the surprise of this competition.
The Ivory Coast
Since its last coronation in the competition in 2015, the Ivory Coast has changed its face. Exit the Yaya Touré, Kolo Touré and other Copa Barry … Make way for a rejuvenated but equally talented squad, between Serge Aurier, Max-Alain Gradel, Franck Kessié, Wilfried Zaha, Nicolas Pépé or even the Ajacide Sébastien Haller, current top scorer of the Champions League. A generation of Elephants who fully intend to crush everything in their path without waiting for their CAN at home in 2023.
• To monitor
It will also be necessary to be wary of the Super Eagles (Nigeria), third in 2019, and the Black Stars (Ghana), regularly in the last four during the past decade.
Ethiopia will make its comeback in continental competition by signing a second participation in forty years. A rebirth for Ethiopian football, a former giant of the continent. The Panthers of Gabon, three years after having missed the boat of Egypt, will also be in the game.
Note that two teams will play the African Cup for the first time: Gambia by Tom Saintfiet and Comoros by Amir Abdou.