Who says we’re not united in Nigeria? That person has not witnessed a band of Nigerians supporting Nigeria at a major sporting event like the AFCON. For the football newbies, AFCON is an acronym for African Cup Of Nations. The first-ever Nations Cup was held in 1957, with only three countries (Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia) in participation. t is the biennial international men’s football championship of Africa organized by the Confederation of African Football (CAF). AFCON 2019 is the highest rated men’s football competition on the African continent, hence it keeps the whole of Africa (participating and non-participating countries) in an anxiety mode throughout the period of the tournament.

It unites families, friends, colleagues, neighbours, even strangers, and the entire nation. Usually seen as a battle for “who will be the giant of Africa?”, competing nations sometimes take the show to social media to shade each other. This year’s tournament promises to be even more exciting and full of different experiences. It has already been characterized by some unique features (more on that later). The excitement is building up, usually during the tournament, both sports and non-sports fanatics come together during to unite their voice and cheer our National team, The Super Eagles, to victory.

Back to why this edition is unique; this will be the 32nd edition of the competition and it will be the first Africa Cup of Nations where the competition format has been expanded from 16 to 24 teams. Also, this edition will be held in June-July as against Jan-Feb when previous editions held. This means that Europe-based players intending to participate in the Africa Cup of Nations with their country will not be forced to take leave of their club duties during January and February, as had been the case in previous seasons.

AFCON 2019

All 24 teams for AFCON 2019 have been confirmed for this summer’s football tournament, though the title holders Cameroon had their hosting duties stripped after CAF stated that they were not satisfied with the country’s preparations. CAF in January this year announced Egypt as the new host following the inability of Cameron to meet all CAF’s hosting criteria.

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AFCON 2019 Tournament Format

The tournament normally has 6 stages: Group stage, the round of 16, quarter-finals, semi-finals, third place and finals. The 24 competition teams will be drawn into 6 groups of 4 teams each. At the group stage, the teams in each group will first play in a single round-robin format, and after the group stage, the top two teams and the four best third teams will advance to the round of 16

The winners from the round of 16 will advance to the quarter-finals stage, from where the winners will advance to the semi-finals stage.
The winners from the semi-final’s rounds will progress to the finals, while the losers will contend each other for a third position. The competition kicks off on June 21 with the group stage matches, while the finals will take place on July 19.

Participating Teams and Groups

Group A
Egypt
DR Congo
Uganda
Zimbabwe

Group B
Nigeria
Guinea
Madagascar
Burundi

Group C
Senegal
Algeria
Kenya
Tanzania

Group D
Morocco
Ivory Coast
South Africa
Namibia

Group E
Tunisia
Mali
Mauritania
Angola

Egypt remains the highest winner of the AFCON with 7 wins (1957, 1959, 1986, 1998, 2006, 2008, and 2010). Followed by Cameron with 5 wins (1984, 1988, 2000, 2002, and 2017), then we have Ghana with 4 wins (1963, 1965, 1978, and 1982) and then our dear country Nigeria with 3 wins (1980, 1994, and 2013).

Hopefully, Nigeria will make AFCON 2019 her fourth win

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