The 32nd Africa Cup of Nations is set to take place in Egypt from 21 June to 9 July. Here is a round up of the tournament legends, venues and players to watch.
Three Players To Watch
Sadio Mané: Senegal’s lead attacker is the best performing African player of 2019, with his Liverpool form winning him international notoriety. He has also proven capable of replicating that for his national team as shown at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Percy Tau: The 24-year-old South African could not get a work permit to play in England but a year on loan in Belgium has made him a much more patient and devastating footballer, and he will carry Bafana Bafana’s hopes at the tournament.
Hakim Ziyech: This skillful if somewhat mercurial Dutch-born Moroccan midfielder played a large part of Ajax Amsterdam’s run in this year’s Champions League competition. His early development was affected by disciplinary problems, but he seems to have matured considerably.
Ahmed Hassan: The elegant Egyptian midfielder best symbolises the dominance Egypt enjoyed when it won three trophies consecutively between 2006 and 2010 as he led the team.
He is the only player to have competed in four tournament finals, also playing and scoring in the 1998 decider in Burkina Faso.
Samuel Eto’o: Cameroon’s star striker played at six Nations Cup finals and netted 18 goals, the most in the history of the tournaments. Still playing at club level in Qatar, Eto’o won Champions League titles with the likes of Barcelona and Inter Milan, and was also briefly on Chelsea’s books.
Stephen Keshi: The Nigerian centre back was in the twilight of his playing days when captaining the Super Eagles to the crown in 1994. He returned as coach 19 years later to show his leadership again as Nigeria emerged as surprise victors of the 2013 edition in South Africa.
International Stadium, June 30 Stadium, Al Salaam Stadium
The ancient wonders of the world sit astride a bustling city, where football is an obsession. Be it on the city’s dusty streets, in its colourful markets or next to pyramids or the Sphinx, there is always someone kicking a ball. Cairo’s cavernous International Stadium will host the opening match and the final, and the June 30 and Al-Salam stadia will also be used.
Alexander the Great founded this port city on the Mediterranean. The Library of Alexandria dates back to the third century BCE. The Corniche stretches all along the bay for long, lazy walks when the sun sets. The Alexandria Stadium, one of three in the city, is being used for the Nations Cup.
The city sits on the northern highway to Port Said, some 90 minutes’ drive from Cairo. Its museums draw tourists from all over the world.
The Suez Port sits at the top of the Gulf of Suez, a crossroads for travellers on the ancient trade routes. But after the Six-Day War with Israel in 1967, it has undergone major renovations.
Find out more about the teams to watch here.
Words by Nick Said