What you need to know about the 2019 AFCON

The 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) kicks off today in Egypt and Pulse Ghana has compiled all the stuff you need to know about the competition.

AFCON 2019

This is the first time the Africa Cup of Nations has been expanded to 24 countries, the highest number of participants in the history of the competition.

For the first time, the competition is being played in the northern hemisphere's summer. In the past it took place in January and February, meaning that the star players at European clubs would miss an important phase of the domestic season. This scheduling fits the big teams better, but the higher temperatures could prove an extra burden on players already fatigued by a long season.

The 2019 Africa Cup of Nations is the 32nd edition in the history of the competition.

Cameroon won the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations, so they will enter into the campaign as defending champions. 

The games will take place in four venues split between six stadiums. The capital Cairo boasts three stadiums: the Cairo International Stadium, the Al Salam Stadium and the June 30 Stadium (a controversial name referring to the fall of former President Mohamed Morsi in 2013). The other host cities are Suez, Alexandria and Ismailia. The final will take place in Cairo on 19 June at the Cairo International Stadium.

Egypt are favourites for the 2019 AFCON, because they enter into the competition as runners-up for the last edition and also, they have won five out of four times, they hosted the rest of Africa. They also have the finest player on the African continent in the person of Mohamed Salah.

They are two debutants in this AFCON, namely Madagascar and Burundi.

The format for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations. Since the last competition in 2017, the biennial tournament has been expanded from 16 teams to 24. It will follow a similar format to Euro 2016. Countries have been drawn into six groups of four and will face each group opponent once. The top two teams are guaranteed places in the knockout stages, while the four best third-place teams will also progress.

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