By DEWAH Fabrice TEH
Sports writer, Kick442.com-Cameroon
The 2021 Africa Cup of Nations tournament will kick off in Cameroon in exactly a month from now with a total of 24 nations spread in six pools battling for glory in five cities across the country.
Ahead of the competition scheduled to run from January 9 to February 6, 2021, Kick442.Com is carrying out in-depth presentation of the various pools and teams of the prestigious Pan-African football showpiece.
Here is a preview of Pool A of the tournament consisting of host Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia and Cape Verde.
Teams in Pool A of the tournament will be based in Cameroon’s capital city, Yaounde and will play their games at the newly constructed 60 thousand seater sports jewel, the Olembe Stadium.
The teams will hold training sessions in the various annex stadia of the Olembe Stadium structure and several other facilities in the city.
The group has been tipped to be one of the most-tricky in the tournament due to the presence of host Cameroon and other promisingly talented squads like those of Burkina Faso and Cape Verde Island in the group.
Here are the teams presentation of the various teams in the pool including past records in the competition, latest news and a lot more.
The East Africans have been described by analyst as the potential underdogs of the pool based on their performances in the 50 years.
The Ethiopians will be making their 12th appearance in the final phase of the competition and their first in over 8 years.
The outfit last participated in the tournament in 2013 in Equatorial Guinea, a tournament that served as the country’s first AFCON appearance in 31 years.
The 1962 hosts and champions have failed to reach the knock out stage of the competition in their last three attempts despite priding themselves as one of the most historic nations in the competition.
Ethiopia will be jetting to Cameroon with virtually no well-known players. However, Coach Wabetu Abate will have a few stars to rely on including teenage sensational forward Abubeker Nasir, who shined for the Ethiopians during the recent African Zonal Qualifiers to the 2022 FIFA World Cup where they battled out with Ghana, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
The tactician will also be hoping to have the likes of forward Dawa Hotessa, Ahmed Rashad and defender Menaf Awol excelling for the side fondly referred to as the Walia Ibex.
The Cape Verdeans are tipped to be one of the strongest forces to reckon with during the continent’s premier football competition early next year.
The North Africans will be in their 3rd participation in the soccer show piece and their first since 2015.
The team shocked the continent in 2013 when they qualified for the quarterfinals in their debut but failed to emulate the same feat two years later in Equatorial Guinea where they got sent parking from the group stages.
The team failed to reach the final phase in 2017 and 2019.
The most prominent Cape Verdean players during the competition will be ace defender, Tavares-Stopira and in-form forward, Julio Tavares who shined during the qualifiers to the AFCON tournament where the Blue Sharks toppled the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon.
Both equally served as major threats to defenders and attackers during the recent African Zonal qualifiers to the 2022 FIFA World Cup where they troubled the likes of three time African champions, the Super Eagles of Nigeria.
The Stallions of Burkina Faso are ranked as the second most prominent outfit in the pool despite their not so convincing past records.
The West Africans will be in their 12th participation in the tournament and will be looking forward to beating the record they inked in 2013 in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon where the team reached the finals and lost to the Super Eagles of Nigeria.
The outfit reached the semifinals in 2017 and got knocked out of the competition at the stage by giants Egypt.
However, the team went forward to miss the last edition in Egypt in 2019.
Despite having very little to show for presently, the Stallions of Burkina Faso are tipped to have one of the finest sides on the African continent.
The team will be heading to Cameroon with over half a dozen well known players. Amongst them, team Captain Issoufou Dayo.
The 30-year-old RS Berkane defender has been one of the team’s most consistent players since making his senior debut for the team over five years ago.
He scored against Cameroon during the Indomitable Lions’ 1 all draw with the side in a Pool A fixture of the 2017 AFCON in Gabon.
The Stallions’ lead trainer, Head Coach Kamou Malo will equally be expected to make use of the Traore trio of forwards.
Twenty one year-old Shakhtar Donetsk forward Lassina Traore, Aston Villa star Bertrand Isidore Traore and AS Arta Solar striker Alain Sibiri Traore.
Alain and Bertrand Traore both played key roles in Burkina Faso’s beautiful run in the 2017 AFCON and Bertrand has been tipped as the Stallions’ most prominent figure for the 2021 tournament.
The likes of midfielders, Gustavo Sangare and Hassan Bande will also be looked up to, to help the country complete a job started in 2013 by the likes of AFCON 2013 Best Player, Jonathan Pitroipa and Aristide Bance.
The Indomitable Lions of Cameroon will be in their 20th AFCON participation and will be in with hopes of lifting the AFCON trophy at home.
The five time African champions who bagged their last title in 2017 in Gabon, 12 years after the team’s back-to-back triumph in 2000 and 2002, are the second most successful nation in the competition, seating behind the Pharaohs of Egypt with seven.
The team managed by Portuguese Coach Antonio Conceicao got eliminated in the last edition in 2019 in Egypt at the round of 16 by Nigeria after losing 3-2 to the Super Eagles in a thrilling duel.
The Indomitable Lions of Cameroon will be banking their luck on a few key players including forwards, Christian Bassogog and Karl Toko Ekambi both plying their trade in the Chinese and French top flight football championships respectively.
The likes of Young Boys of Bern striker, Moumi Ngamaleu, 2017 AFCON star, Vincent Aboubakar and Clinton Njie who recently got included in Coach Antonio Conceicao’s 40-man provisional list released late this week, will also be expected to put up excellent performances during the tournament.
The Lions midfield compartment will be expected to rely on the likes of Greece based Pierre Kunde Malong and Frank Zambo Anguissa of Italian top tier side, Napoli.
Meanwhile, Fai Collins, Michael Ngadeu and others who are all in good form, will be expected to fence the defensive compartment while returnee shot stopper, Andre Onana will be looked up to guard the goalkeeping area.
Full Group Fixtures
January 9, 2022
Cameroon vs Burkina Faso
Ethiopia vs Cape Verde
January 13, 2022
Cameroon vs Ethiopia
Cape Verde vs Burkina Faso
January 17, 2022
Cameroon vs Cape Verde — Olembe Stadium Yaounde
Burkina Faso vs Ethiopia — Kouekong Omnisport Stadium Bafoussam