Accra, Jan. 04, GNA – As the countdown to the start of the 2021 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament in Cameroon draws, GNA Sports delves deep in Group B of the 33rd edition of Africa’s football showpiece.
Group B is made up of Senegal, Zimbabwe, Guinea and Malawi.
One of Africa’s footballing giants Senegal, who arguably have the most talented crop of players across Europe would be seeking to win the AFCON for the first time in its entire football history.
This would be the 16th time the “Teranga Lions” as they are nicknamed would be participating in the competition with the hope of trying to win the AFCON having finished as runners up twice thus in 2002 and 2019, losing to Cameroon and Algeria respectively.
Senegal are the top ranked African side on the Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) Rankings as at December 2021. They are placed 20th and would go to this tournament as huge favourites to win the competition especially having come close in the last edition.
The Teranga Lions are one of the few teams who would come into this tournament with all players plying their trade in Europe with the likes Sadio Mane, Edouard Mendy, Idrissa Gana Gueye, Kalidou Koulibaly, among others hoping to win the country’s first AFCON trophy.
Zimbabwe, also known as “The Warriors”, would be making their fifth AFCON appearance if they are able to survive a suspension notice from FIFA over issues of government interference.
But with all these happenings, the Warriors are already in Cameroon as they prepare for the opening match against Senegal next Monday.
Coach Norman Mapeza’s side have never progressed to the round of 16 stages of the competition since having made their debut in 2004.
Zimbabwe are currently ranked 121st on the FIFA ranking and are positive to prove a point in this year’s tournament. Captain Knowledge Musona and Tino Kadewere are the big names to look out for in the Zimbabwean team.
Guinea who were runners-up in the 1976 AFCON, would make their 13th appearance this year.
The side made their first AFCON qualification in 1963. The “Syli National”, which is currently ranked 81st on the FIFA ranking, would come into this tournament in search of their first AFCON tournament.
After serving a two-year ban, the side returned to international action in 2002 were able to reach the quarter-final stage of the competition three consecutive times, 2004, 2006 and the 2008 African Cup of Nations.
The side in the 2012 African Cup of Nations, made history after beating Botswana 6:1, becoming the first African side to score six goals in an AFCON game since Côte d’Ivoire in 1970.
Amadou Diawara and Liverpool’s Naby Keita are among the top players the newly appointed coach, Kaba Diawara would be relying on for success in the tournament.
The Guinea National team would be among one of the favourites to qualify out of the group together with Senegal but Zimbabwe and Malawi would be looking to make their first progression out of the group stages.
Malawi would also make their third appearance in this year’s tournament but have never progressed past the Group stages.
The “Flames” as they are popularly known made their first appearance at the 1984 AFCON held in Ivory Coast.
The last appearance they made at AFCON 2010 was held in Angola where they finished bottom of the Group which had the likes of Angola, Algeria and Mali.
The Malawians, despite being ranked 129th on the FIFA Rankings, would really fancy their chances of progressing to the next round despite being outsiders to qualify.
Fixtures for Group B:
January 10, Senegal vs Zimbabwe, Guinea vs Malawi
January 14: Senegal vs Guinea, Malawi vs Zimbabwe
January 18: Malawi vs Senegal, Zimbabwe vs Guinea
Source: Ghana News Agency