AFCON 2021 countdown: Spotlight on Group E





Agency Report

4 January 2022

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Algeria

It’s hard to look beyond the reigning champions, who have played 33 matches without defeat since October 2018.

Victory at the recent Arab Cup only increased their momentum, and 25 goals scored in six World Cup qualifiers is testament to their ferocity going forward.

Admittedly this is an ageing side, but the players have a winning mentality — and tournament nous — in their DNA.

Fixtures:

Algeria vs. Sierra Leone (Jan. 11, Douala), Algeria vs Equatorial Guinea (Jan. 16, Douala), Algeria vs. Ivory Coast (Jan. 20, Douala)

Sierra Leone

Friendly results have been patchy for the Leone Stars since they dispatched Benin in their belated — controversial — final Group L fixture to book their ticket to Cameroon.

They face Algeria then Ivory Coast in their first two competitive games since June; it couldn’t get much trickier, although this is the team that salvaged a point in Nigeria after being 4-0 down inside 29 minutes last year.

Fixtures:

Sierra Leone vs Algeria (Jan. 11, Douala), Sierra Leone vs Ivory Coast (Jan. 16, Douala), Sierra Leone vs. Equatorial Guinea (Jan. 20, Limbe)

Ivory Coast

No shortage of quality players — even if Wilfried Zaha’s participation looks unlikely — while the Elephants can also call upon several players with experience of winning the tournament in 2015.

Coach Patrice Beaumelle also has experience of going the distance in the tournament — he was victorious in 2012 and 2015 — but defeat by Cameroon in their final World Cup qualifier (therefore missing out on Qatar already) will take some getting over.

Fixtures

Ivory Coast vs Equatorial Guinea (Jan. 12, Douala), Ivory Coast vs. Sierra Leone (Jan. 16, Douala), Ivory Coast vs. Algeria (Jan. 20, Douala)

Equatorial Guinea

They ultimately fell short in World Cup qualification, but home victories over Mauritania, Zambia and Tunisia during that campaign boosted hopes that Equatorial Guinea could be genuine dark horses in Cameroon.

Little will be expected of Nzalang Nacional considering they’ve never previously qualified for an AFCON they haven’t hosted, but it’s worth noting that Tunisia are the only team to have beaten them since Nov. 2019.

Fixtures: Equatorial Guinea vs Ivory Coast (Jan. 12, Douala), Equatorial Guinea vs. Algeria (Jan. 16, Douala), Equatorial Guinea vs Sierra Leone (Jan. 20, Limbe)

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