April 15 – Morocco, Ivory Coast and South Africa, alongside Namibia, were paired in the group of death at the draw for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations. The hosts Egypt and reigning champions Cameroon were handed favourable draws.
Egypt will kick off the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations against Zimbabwe. They were drawn alongside the Warriors, Uganda and DR Congo in Group B and will be aiming for a deep run into the knockout stages of the tournament. In 2017 Egypt came second after defeat against Cameroon in the final.
“We are confident, we are here in our land with the supporters behind us, so we have to work hard to reach the final,” said Egypt’s assistant coach Hany Ramzy. “The big difference [in quality] between teams is not really there anymore, like it was 10 years ago in Africa. Now every team has players who play in Europe so they have the experience to play at a high level. But when you want to win a big tournament like the Africa Cup you have to win against small and big teams.”
The defending champions also got a promising draw in group F. They will face heavyweights Ghana, but play Benin and Guinea-Bissau in their other group matches.
Morocco, Ivory Coast and South Africa have an unenviable task as they meet in Group D. Namibia complete the draw’s toughest group. “It’s a difficult group, but we’re used to playing with big teams and we played against some of those teams in the last edition,” said Morocco coach Herve Renard. “I spent four years with Zambia and we played against Namibia. We know it’s a difficult group, but we need to focus.”
Nigeria will play Guinea, Madagascar, Burundi. The Super Eagles failed to qualify for the previous finals. “It’s good to see new countries, with the enthusiasm that they can bring to this Africa Cup of Nations,” said Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr. “Madagascar, I know them very well – my wife is from Madagascar. There are no easy matches for us, we never underrate anybody. But I hope we can come out of this group and go as far as possible.”
The tournament will take place from 21 June to 19 July, the first time the finals will be held in Europe’s summer. It is the biggest Africa Cup of Nations to date yet with 24 teams. Sixteen teams will progress to the knockout stages.
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
Group F: Cameroon, Ghana, Benin, Guinea-Bissau
Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1576407341labto1576407341ofdlr1576407341owedi1576407341sni@o1576407341fni1576407341