MX23RW : Friday, June 18 12:37:19| >> :600:6924010:6924010:

Africa Cup of Nations: All you need to know about the 2019 tournament

The final takes place on July 19 in Cairo.

The 32nd Africa Cup of Nations kicks off on Friday when hosts Egypt take on Zimbabwe in Cairo.

Here, Press Association Sport answers some of the key questions ahead of the tournament.

Where is it being held?

Egypt will stage the competition from June 21 until July 19. Six venues across four cities will be used, with three stadia in Cairo and one each in Alexandria, Suez and Ismailia. The 74,100-capacity Cairo International Stadium will host the final and the opening match. Cameroon were initially selected as hosts but were stripped of the responsibility in November by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) because "a number of compliance conditions" had not been met. The start of the tournament was also pushed back six days to allow players to rest after the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

What is the format?

Since the last competition in 2017, the biennial tournament has been expanded from 16 teams to 24. It will follow a similar format to Euro 2016. Countries have been drawn into six groups of four and will face each group opponent once. The top two teams are guaranteed places in the knockout stages, while the four best third-place teams will also progress. The tournament will be played in Europe's summer for the first time. It has previously been held in January and February, causing disputes with European clubs who lose players during the season.

Which Premier League stars are involved?

Mohamed Salah, right, and Sadio Mane won the Champions League with Liverpool earlier this month
Mohamed Salah, right, and Sadio Mane impressed for Liverpool last season (Nick Potts/PA)

Fresh from lifting the Champions League trophy, Liverpool trio Mohamed Salah (Egypt), Sadio Mane (Senegal), and Naby Keita (Guinea) will be among the Premier League talent on display. Crystal Palace forward Wilfried Zaha and Tottenham full-back Serge Aurier have been included in Ivory Coast's squad, while Manchester City title-winner Riyad Mahrez is Algeria's star man. Other top-flight players involved include Arsenal's Alex Iwobi (Nigeria), Spurs midfielder Victor Wanyama (Kenya), and Everton's Idrissa Gueye (Senegal).

Who else is worth watching?

Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly, right, has plenty of admirers
Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly, right, has plenty of admirers (Martin Rickett/PA)

Senegal's towering centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly has been repeatedly linked with a big-money move from Napoli to the Premier League. Ivory Coast forward Nicolas Pepe, who hit 22 Ligue 1 goals for Lille last season, is another reported to be attracting attention. Elsewhere, Cameroon goalkeeper Andre Onana and Morocco midfielder Hakim Ziyech played key roles in Ajax's recent run to the Champions League semi-finals, while Mali striker Moussa Marega struck six times in that competition for Porto.

Who won't be there?

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored twice at the 2017 African Nations Cup
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored twice at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (Joe Giddens/PA)

Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, the Premier League's joint leading scorer, will be a notable absentee as Gabon, who hosted the previous tournament, did not qualify. Former Gunners forward Emmanuel Adebayor also misses out following Togo's failure to reach the finals. Meanwhile, Manchester United defender Eric Bailly was left out of Ivory Coast's squad due to a knee injury.

Who are the favourites?

Egypt lost all three of their World Cup games last summer
Egypt lost all three of their World Cup games last summer (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Seven-time winners Egypt, the competition's most successful team, are being heavily backed to reclaim the trophy they last lifted in 2010. They have the advantage of home soil plus the talent of African player of the year Salah and will be keen to make amends for last summer's poor World Cup display. Senegal, who have never won the tournament, are similarly being tipped for success, while much is expected of Ghana, Morocco, Nigeria and Ivory Coast. Algeria, holders Cameroon, and Tunisia are also in with a shout.

Who are the newcomers?

The expanded format has seen three nations qualify for the first time. Madagascar and Burundi have been drawn alongside each other in Group B, while Mauritania are in Group E. Burundi, the lowest ranked team in the competition at 134th in the world, are the only country of the three with an English-based player in their squad having selected Stoke striker Saido Berahino. Tanzania, who last qualified in 1980, will make just their second tournament appearance, along with Guinea-Bissau, who debuted in 2017.

ga('create', 'UA-72310761-1', 'auto', {'name': 'pacontentapi'});
ga('pacontentapi.set', 'referrer', location.origin);
ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension1', 'By Press Association Sport staff');
ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension2', '6e28fab8-89d0-48a3-9554-6aec4b82585f');
ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension3', 'paservice:sport,paservice:sport:football,paservice:sport:uk,paservice:sport:world');
ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension6', 'story');
ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension7', 'composite');
ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension8', null);
ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension9', 'sport:football');
ga('pacontentapi.send', 'pageview', { 'location': location.href, 'page': (location.pathname + + location.hash), 'title': 'All you need to know about the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations'});

ID:362481: cacheID:362481:1false2false3false:QQ:: from db desktop :LenBod:restore:12884:
Restore Data
Share this article now:
Did you know...?
Jorginho in action for Chelsea on March 14, 2019
Read Next:
Jorginho wants to follow Sarri to Juventus?

rhs 2.0
Euro 2020 fixtures
Friday, June 18, 2021
Saturday, June 19, 2021
Sunday, June 20, 2021
Monday, June 21, 2021
Todays Game Header Right

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Transfer Talk Daily
Match previews - twice weekly
Morning Briefing (7am UTC)
Ultra close-up image of Kevin De Bruyne [NOT FOR USE IN ARTICLES]Get the latest transfer news, match previews and news direct to your inbox!