Time to get excited for AFCON

It might seem to have taken forever to finally get here, but the much delayed Africa Cup of Nations will finally kick-off on 9th January 2022. It is taking place in Cameroon, and Ghana managed to qualify for a record ninth consecutive AFCON tournament with satisfying victories, such as the one over Sudan back in November 2020. Last time out in the tournament, they managed to only reach the round of 16, where they were knocked out by eventual winners, Algeria. Interestingly, there were actually nine West African countries that qualified for AFCON 2019.

Hopefully then, the Black Stars will manage to go further on this occasion, and they are looking to win the competition for the first time since 1982. That isn’t the only time that they’ve managed to capture the cup though, as they’ve actually won it three more times before that, in 1963, then in 1965, and then again in 1978.

Their best position since 1982’s win was in 2015, when a talented side helmed by manager Avram Grant, battled hard for a place in the final against Ivory Coast. Unfortunately, Didier Drogba, a true legend of the game, led his Ivory Coast side to a win on penalties, causing Ghanaians much anguish. Though after the dust had settled, the Black Stars and their legions of fans, were immeasurably proud of their performance.

This time round, Ghana find themselves in Group C, where they will face off against Morocco, Comoros, and Gabon. Whilst it’s not the most difficult group they could have been drawn into, as they have managed to avoid the heavy hitters, such as Algeria and Egypt, it still has the potential to be a tricky one to advance from.

The first game they play will be against Morocco on January 10, at the Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo, which is located in Yaounde. Morocco have a decent pedigree in the competition, having won the AFCON back in 1976, and they are currently going through a bit of golden patch of producing some quality players. Their attacking-midfielder Hakim Ziyech has one of the sweetest left-pegs in world football, and he was rewarded with a big move to London mega-club Chelsea in 2020, after making major waves in a young Ajax team.

The Black Stars’ second game will be played again at the Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo, on January 14, and will be against Gabon. The Central African team have never won the tournament, but have previously qualified eight times. Their best result in the competition was in 2012, when they reached the quarter-finals. Gabon’s figurehead is definitely Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who plays for Arsenal, another London side. Although, there are rumours starting to circulate that Aubameyang could be a target for Spanish side Barcelona in the January transfer window.

Ghana’s final group game will be played in the Stade Omnisport Roumde Adjia, which is located in Garoua, on the 18th January. They will be playing Comoros, who are newcomers to the AFCON, having qualified for the tournament for the first time in their history, thanks to a 0-0 draw with Togo. The island country will be buzzing with excitement ahead of their debut, though they should prove to be easy opponents for a team as accustomed to tournament football as Ghana. Their most famous player is El Fardou Ben Nabouhane, who plays as a forward for Austrian Team Red Star Belgrade. All eyes of the small nation will be glued to this player, as they hope he can propel them to the next stage of the tournament.

Nowadays, AFCON is becoming a must-watch tournament for football fans not just in Africa, but all around the world. More and more TV broadcasters in different countries are shelling out to be able to showcase the top African talent. For example, British subscription service Sky Sports, which is the home of the most popular league in the world, the Premier League, is showing every single match of the AFCON on its various channels.

The tournament is also hugely favoured by those who enjoy betting on sporting events. Websites like Asiabet, which is Asia’s most trusted online gambling portal and guide, gives its users the option to find the best online bookmakers in their region to bet on any match playing. It also has all the information needed on gambling regulations in many different areas, so its visitors will never get caught out, meaning they can just focus on enjoying the feast of football.

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