With only 27 days until the postponed 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) begins on January 9th, 2022 in Cameroon, competing countries are gearing up for the showpiece. The tournament promises to be competitive because all the top-ranked African teams will be present. The champion at the end of the AFCON, as in most previous editions, is projected to come from one of the top-ranked nations. Here we assess all the top-ranked teams who are likely to win.
Cameroon, often known as the Indomitable Lions, are true African giants, having won five AFCON titles.
Cameroon qualified automatically as hosts. Their recent results show that they are a force to reckon with. In the past five matches, Cameroon has won four and lost once.
Their top stars that can cause problems for other teams include Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, who plays for Napoli, and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, who plays for Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga.
The indomitable Lions have a real chance of winning this AFCON edition considering the fact that they are playing on home soil.
Algeria are coming to the showpiece as the defending champions. Nicknamed the "Desert Foxes," Algeria is a strong and tricky opponent for any team.
Algeria qualified undefeated in the group stages and have won three and drawn two of the past five games.
Riyad Mahrez of Manchester City is Algeria’s danger man. He was instrumental in Manchester City’s league win last season and their run to the Champions League final against Chelsea.
Algeria are the clear favorites for a reason; they have a winning attitude, a consistent selection process, and a probable player of the tournament in Riyad Mahrez.
Although Ghana’s dominance in African football has waned, they still remain among the favorites to win the title. The Black Stars of Ghana haven't won the AFCON title since 1982.
Ghana qualified at the expense of South Africa. Their recent results haven’t been convincing. Ghana has won three, lost one, and drawn one of its last five matches.
Ghana will be hoping that the Ayew brothers will lead the team again. However, Jordan Ayew's goal drought is becoming more of a problem at Crystal Palace. Thomas Partey will be hoping that he will not be injured again before the start of the tournament.
On paper, Ghana is not as strong as it has been in recent tournaments. They cannot, however, be ruled out.
The Super Eagles of Nigeria have won three AFCON titles, but given the talent at their disposal over the years, they should have won more.
In the past 5 matches, Nigeria have won 3, lost 1 and drew 1. In these matches, they haven’t played any big teams.
The Super Eagles have an array of talent at their disposal, many of them playing at the top level in major European leagues. Top players include Victor Osimhen, Kelechi Iheanacho, Wilfred Ndidi, and Alex Iwobi. If the stars of Nigeria rise to the occasion, they can walk to the final.
Although they are brimming with talent, winning the tournament boils down to the coach’s strategy and formula.
Tunisia is a perennial qualifier for the tournament. They last won the AFCON title in 2004 on home soil. Tunisia had an easy qualification and had the highest number of qualification points with a total of 16, the best on the continent.
Tunisia have won 4 and lost 1 in the last 5 matches. Tunisia will be hoping their top stars, which include Wahbi Khazri and Naim Sliti, will be firing on all cylinders.
Tunisia appears to be considerably weaker than they were three years ago at the World Cup, but one thing is for sure: no one wants to face Tunisia in the final.
With a record seven AFCON titles, the Pharaohs are unrivaled. In every AFCON, Egypt is always one of the favorites.
Egypt’s recent results have been encouraging. In the past five matches, they have won four and drawn one. Egypt will be hoping that Mohamed Salah will bring his club magic to the national team. Mohamed Salah is one of the hottest players in the world right now, having scored 21 goals in all competitions for Liverpool this season.
Although Egypt’s recent results are encouraging, coupled with Salah’s red-hot form, the team still looks disjointed. The current team doesn't feel like a vintage Egypt team. However, they can't be ruled out.
7) Côte d'Ivoire
Ivory Coast is an African giant and clearly one of the favorites. In the past five matches, Ivory Coast have won four and lost one.
Ivory Coast is gifted with a lot of talent that can hurt other teams. Haller has been in outstanding form for his club. Franck Kessie has regained his form after a difficult start to the season with AC Milan. Wilfried Zaha and Nicolas Pepe can bring quality to the team in wide areas.
There's a lot of quality in the team, and if everything comes together, the Ivorians might win the coveted trophy for the third time.
Morocco has represented Africa in five World Cups, but hasn't won the AFCON since 1976. Morocco is always considered among the favorites in every AFCON.
In six qualifications, the team only conceded one goal. Recently, Morocco has won 4 and drawn 1 in the past 5 matches. Their recent results are encouraging.
Morocco has top players that can cause problems for other teams. Hakim Ziyech and Archraf Hakimi will be expected to provide leadership to the team. Sevilla's Bono and Youssef En-Nesyri will provide the much-needed attack.
Could this be the year when Morocco finally wins the AFCON? They aren't quite there yet, but with excellent players, a serious goal threat, and a seasoned manager, they appear to be in good shape.
Senegal is the most well-known African national team that has never won the AFCON. They were twice beaten finalists.
Senegal have won 4 and drew 1 in the past 5 matches. Senegal will be hoping Premier League stars Sadio Mane and Watford's Ismaila Sarr will bring their form to the national team. Idrissa Gueye, Edouard Mendy, and Kalidou Koulibaly are doing well for their clubs this season as well.
Senegal has a better opportunity to win this coming AFCON with so many players in form and at top European clubs.
This delayed 2021 AFCON is promising to be a thriller with all the African giants represented at the tournament. It is difficult to predict an absolute winner right now, with all the top-ranked teams equally poised to win.