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AFCON: All you need to know ahead of the African Cup of Nations & where to watch on TV in Ireland

AFCON

An exciting competition awaits in Cameroon.

On Sunday evening, hosts Cameroon kick off the delayed 2021 African Cup of Nations, with a fixture against Burkina Faso.

With the tournament set to air in full on TV, the competition offers European fans a great opportunity to watch one of the most exciting international competitions in world football.

There will also be plenty of Irish interest in it as well, with Shamrock Rovers defender Roberto Lopes set to line out for Cape Verde.

As a result, we have you covered for the African Cup of Nations, set to begin on Sunday, January 9th.

Where is the African Cup of Nations being held?

AFCON is going to be held in Cameroon, although capacities of the games will be capped at between 60-80% amid rising Covid-19 infections in the country.

What are the key dates?

The tournament is set to begin on Sunday at 4pm, with hosts Cameroon taking on group rivals Burkina Faso.

The group stages will come to a close on January 20th, with each team playing three teams in their groups, with the last-16 set to last from January 23rd to 26th.

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On January 29th, the last eight will begin over a period of two days, with the semi-finals to take place on February 2nd and 3rd.

The final will be held on February 6th at the newly built 60,000 seater Olembe Stadium in Yaoundé.

Who are the key players to watch out for?

The African Cup of Nations has led to an exodus of sorts from the Premier League, with several big-names set to feature for their international side.

The biggest name to take part in the competition will arguably be Liverpool’s Mo Salah, as he looks to help his Egyptian teammates to AFCON glory.

His club teammate Sadio Mane will play for Senegal, alongside Chelsea’s Champions League winning goalkeeper Edouard Mendy.

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Algeria head into the competition as reigning champions, and they will be hoping that Manchester City star Riyad Mahrez can help them to another title.

Premier League regulars Wilfred Ndidi, and Wilfried Zaha will also take part in the tournament, alongside Manchester United prospect Hannibal.

As mentioned already, Dublin-born defender Roberto Lopes will also feature in the tournament for Cape Verde.

Who are the favourites?

Heading into the tournament, it is difficult to find a winner, but the regular AFCON contenders will be hoping to flourish again.

Reigning champions Algeria are the holders, and are likely to battle it out with Senegal for the crown.

That is after their hotly-contested final in 2019, which Algeria won by a goal to nil in Cairo.

Seven-time winners Egypt also have a shout of winning the tournament, especially with an in-form Mo Salah in their side.

Hosts Cameroon will also be hoping to pounce on a passionate home support, although their hopes of winning the title appear slim enough.

Ivory Coast and Nigeria will also be eyeing some glory of their own, with Ivory Coast in a better position to do so.

Nigeria, of course, head into the tournament off the back of some far from ideal preparations, with previous boss Gernot Rohr relieved of his duties last month.

Augustine Eguavoen has managed his nation a few times previously, but it remains to be seen if he can steer a quality-packed side to AFCON glory.

And most importantly, where can you watch all the action?

Sky Sports will be broadcasting all of the games in the tournament, 52 in total.

10 games will be aired on the BBC, with them being two of the quarter-finals, both semi-finals and the final.

For the full TV schedule, you can find that here.

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