Puncherello Chama, Football Analyst
With the biggest football tournament in Africa finally here, these are some my favorites for the Cameroon 2021 AFCON title.
No one is talking about them but they are favorites.
The fact that they painfully missed out on the FIFA 2022 World Cup Play Offs means they will have something to fight for.
They lost out to eventual champions Algeria on penalties in the 2019 AFCON Quarter Finals and will want to improve on that.
Ivory Coast has an experienced coach in Patrice Beumelle who has won the AFCON Cup twice as an assistant Coach and will now want to prove his worth.
With an exciting attacker in Ajax Amsterdam’s Sebastien Haller this is one team that can go all the way.
There is also Asec Mimosas youngster Konate who has been in good form in CAF Competition and though he may not play a big role he could still surprise everyone.
They lost in the final in 2017 and painfully exited at home in 2019 and this will be the year they will look to reclaim the AFCON trophy again.
This is a team whose backbone is made up of mostly Al Ahly and Zamalek players.
The addition of World star Mohammed Salah gives this Egyptian side the edge.
The last two winners of the AFCON were ranked 12th and flew underneath everyone’s radar.
Similarly this Nigerian side is a team that’s not being talked about.
They missed out on the 2017 AFCON but reached the Semi Finals in 2019.
Nigeria have a solid coach in Augustine Eguavon and may surprise a lot of people with players like Samuel Chikweuze set to have a good tournament.
They are the defending Champions of the AFCON and just came from winning the FIFA Arab Cup.
Algeria also have a very good squad with quality like Riyadh Mahrez midfielder.
All things show to Algeria retaining the AFCON.
However, the biggest disadvantage for Algeria is that it’s difficult to win two big competitions within months and some of the players who played at the FIFA Arab world cup may get fatigued during the AFCON.
Another disadvantage is that Algeria tend to do badly in West Africa on most occasions.
Their only two AFCON wins both came in North Africa and they have yet to win a match against Cameroun in Cameroon so it will be interesting to see if they can get over their bad record at both National and Club Level in West Africa.
They are Africa’s number 1 Ranked team and have the team on paper with some of the best players in the world like Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy and Liverpool striker Sadio Mane.
However, the pressure of being number one usually weighs down on teams at the AFCON.
The team also has hardly trained for the competition and on average since all players are European based they assembled the team later than teams like Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Algeria and Egypt.
The hosts of the competition have a good team but their biggest disadvantage is the added pressure of playing at home.
Home ground advantage tends to take teams through beyond the group stage but the nation’s expectations can become too huge and many teams don’t manage.
Cameroun will have to deal with home pressure if they want to win it.
In 2019 Madagascar shocked everyone by reaching the Quarter Finals.
This time a Cape Verde, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe or Guinea Bissau could surprise everyone with a quarter final berth.
TEAMS TO LOOK OUT FOR
These are not teams that may go anywhere but could just excite fans with their style of play and determination.
Ethiopia and Malawi could be the teams to surprise everyone.
All in all let’s enjoy the AFCON!!!