Cameroon, a few hours before the much-anticipated start of the African Cup of Nations 2021 play on Sunday, is now set to host the continent’s most prized championship. The Indomitable Lions of Cameroon will face Burkina Faso in the first round on Sunday at Olembe Stadium in Yaounde.
Cameroon was slated to host the tournament in 2019, but it was deprived of its rights owing to delays in its preparations, and Egypt took its place. Because of the epidemic, the 33rd Cup of Nations was postponed last year. Cameroon, on the other hand, is a football fanatic, and many supporters will be eager to watch games in a country that has only hosted the Cup of Nations once, in 1972, with only eight players.
Cameroon’s goal this time is to reach the final in the capital, Yaounde, on February 6 and add to their five trophies, which are second only to Egypt’s seven triumphs as African champions. Senegal, Algeria, Ghana, Nigeria, Egypt, and others are among the countries vying to win the 2021 tournament.
On Friday, Cameroon’s football federation’s President, Samuel Eto’o, paid a visit to the Cameroonian players at their training ground to encourage them as they prepare to prove their quality. Despite claims last month that leading European teams wanted the competition postponed again owing to COVID worries, the 27-million-strong Central African country was adamant about continuing with it.
This time everything will go on, beginning on Sunday in Yaounde when Cameroon, led by Toni Conceicao of Portugal, takes on Burkina Faso, but the coronavirus looms large. Both Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Gabon’s Mario Lemina tested positive on Thursday and were placed in isolation at their hotel.
Senegal, Africa’s top-ranked national side, went to Cameroon without three players who had tested positive for HIV. After rumors of positive tests in his squad’s camp, Egypt coach Carlos Queiroz tweeted on Friday, “Unprecedented times.” “The more difficult the situation grows, the more united and strong we become,” he added.