What should you know about the AFCON for local African teams?
The 2018 African Nations Championship is the fifth edition of the tournament, which is held every two years.
It will take place between 12th January and 4th February.
In February 2016, Kenya was announced as the host nation, but by September 2017, the East Africans were not ready and a lack of headway with preparations. Morocco was, thus, announced as the new host nation a month later.
The African Nations Championship sees national teams that must be composed of players playing in their domestic league. For example, a Moroccan player is only eligible to play for the Morocco national team if he is playing for a Moroccan club. 16 teams qualify for the tournament.
Since the hosts Morocco had already qualified in the North Zone, their spot in the final tournament were re-allocated to Egypt, which lost to Morocco in the North Zone final qualifying round. However, the Pharaohs declined to participate citing a “congested domestic calendar”.
As a result, the spot were reverted back to Central-East Zone, and went to the winner of a play-off between Ethiopia and Rwanda (the two teams which lost in the Central-East Zone final qualifying round.) Rwanda came out victorious in that encounter.
Four cities are hosting the 16 teams in Morocco: Casablanca, Marrakech, Tangier and Agadir.
The Video Assistant Referee system will be used for the first time on the African continent and seven match officials will be responsible to implement it, while 32 match officials assist in all (16 referees and 16 assistant referees).
The 16 qualified teams were drawn into four groups of four.
It comprises host nation Morocco, Guinea, Sudan and Mauritania. Casablanca will host games of this group, with the matches played at the Stade Mohamed V.
Has host of the maiden tournament Ivory Coast, Zambia, Uganda and Namibia. They will be based at Marrakech with majority of the games at the Stade de Marrakech.
It has 2014 champions Libya as the top seed, Nigeria, Rwanda and Equatorial Guinea.This group’s games will be at the Stade Ibn Batouta,Tangier.
We have 2011 runners-up Angola, Cameroon, Congo and Burkina Faso playing their matches at the Stade Adrar in Agadir.