It promises to be an exciting tournament in Cameroon as the January 6 commencement date of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations approaches.
Nigeria will join 23 other national teams that will strive for almost a month to wrestle the Nations Cup from the grip of defending champions Algeria.
The Super Eagles are currently led by former international Augustine Eguavoen after German tactician Gernot Rohr, who guided the side for over five years, was sacked last week.
According to NFF president Amanu Pinnick, a new foreign head coach may be appointed next week to take over from Eguavoen and lead the Eagles’ drive for a fourth Afcon crown.
A powerhouse of African football, the Super Eagles have not lifted the Cup in eight years, with the three-time winners’ last triumph coming in 2013.
Nothing, though, is guaranteed as the Afcon is the biggest prize in African football, and it is competed for by the best players on the continent.
With the tournament now just over two weeks away, Soccernet takes you through everything you need to know.
What is the Africa Cup of Nations?
The Africa Cup of Nations is the biggest football event on the continent. The biennial championship is organised by the Confederation of African Football (CAF).
What is the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations timetable?
After two date shifts, the 2021 Afcon is scheduled to be held across January and February 2022, but it will retain the name 2021 Africa Cup of Nations for sponsorship purposes.
Cameroon will host the games, with the matches set for six stadiums located in the five cities of Yaounde, Douala, Garoua, Limbe, and Bafoussam.
It gets underway on Sunday, January 9.
Group stage: January 9 – 20.
Round of 16: January 23
Quarter-finals: January 29 and 30.
Semi-finals: February 2 and 3.
Final: Sunday, February 6
How will Cameroon 2021 work?
Twenty-four teams, divided into six groups of four, will compete at the tournament.
After the group stage, the top two teams from each group and the four highest-ranked third-placed teams will advance to the round of 16.
What are the groups?
Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Ethiopia
Guinea, Malawi, Senegal, Zimbabwe
Comoros, Gabon, Ghana, Morocco
Egypt, Guinea-Bissau, Nigeria, Sudan
Algeria, Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone
Gambia, Mali, Mauritania, Gambia
Who won the last edition?
As stated, Algeria won the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations after edging Senegal 1-0 in the finals played in Cairo.
Nigeria finished in third place as the Super Eagles defeated Tunisia 1-0 in the play-off, with Odion Ighalo scoring the game’s only goal.
It was the eighth time the Nigerians would finish in third place at the Afcon.
Ighalo ended as the tournament’s top scorer with five goals, following in the footsteps of compatriots Emmanuel Emenike (2013), Austin Okocha (2004), Rashidi Yekini (1992 and 1994), and Segun Odegbami (1978 and 1980).
Who are the favourites?
Captained by Manchester City’s Riyad Mahrez, Algeria look in pole position to retain the trophy they won in Egypt in the summer of 2019.
Egypt, captained by arguably the world’s form player Mohamed Salah, are also one of the pre-tournament favourites as well as a Sadio Mane-inspired Senegal.
Three-time Afcon kings Super Eagles, tournament hosts Cameroon, and West African brothers Ghana are teams that will also arrive with huge expectations.
What is Nigeria’s fact file at the Afcon?
Nigeria are three-time winners of the Africa Cup of Nations.
The West African giants won the Cup for the first time on home soil in 1980, claimed the trophy again at Tunisia 1994 before triumphing a third time at South Africa 2013.
Nigeria have appeared in 18 of the previous 32 editions of the Afcon and have enjoyed a podium finish an astonishing 15 times.
Aside from the three winners’ medals, Nigeria boast four runners-up medals and eight bronze medals.
The last (and only) time Cameroon hosted the Afcon in 1972, Nigeria did not qualify.