The 2019 edition of the Africa Cup of nations is set to begin, with 24 nations taken part in the maiden edition since the expansion.
Host country Egypt, who will be hosting the continental showpiece for the fifth time, will also be hoping to win their 8th title in their 24th appearance in the tournament.
As host, they will also be looking forward to get some home support and also fall back on their talisman play-maker Mohammed Salah to crown their effort.
Although Egypt have hosted the tournament four times (1959, 1974, 1986, 2006) before now. Out of which they won the title three times (1959, 1986, 2006) on home-soil.
The only time they lost as host was in 1974, when DR Congo (then Zaire) handed them a 3-2 defeat in the semifinal at the Cairo International Stadium. Relegating them to third place play-off where they eventually beat Congo 4-0.
Interestingly, Egypt will be facing DR Congo again at the Group stage of this tournament as host. But they will also need to contend with the memories of that defeat in 1974 when they file out against DR Congo on June 26th on the same pitch where the Central African side handed them that shocking defeat before their home crowd.
Aside DR Congo who have won it two times with their second title being on Egyptian soil. Egypt will face an uphill task on home-soil generally. They will also be contending with other African countries who have won the title at least twice, with the likes of Cameroon (5), Ghana (4) Nigeria (3) Ivory Coast (2) all hoping to shock the host on home-soil in case they meet.
Nations who have also won the continental showpiece once, like South Africa (1996), Algeria (1990), Zambia (2012), Morocco (1976), Tunisia (2004), will show no respect to the host in their quest to grab their second title. This will further make the dream of Egypt hosting to win, a hard nut to crack.
More so, Senegal who are yet to taste AFCON glory, but happens to be Africa’s best performing side at the Russia 2018 World Cup, will definitely want to make a statement in Egypt. Sadio Mane will set friendship aside and wage war with club-mate Salah in his bid to help his country win their first AFCON glory.
Generally, there are no underdogs in African Football when it comes to the global showpiece. Even nations who are yet to win it will all be optimistic to make a statement.
The Pharaohs who will be looking forward to win may not have an easy ride on home-soil. Though they will get massive home support for the team, but that team will meet another shock on home soil.
Only the fittest team will smile home with the trophy on July 19 at the Cairo International Stadium.
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