By Boris Esono Nwenfor
The 2019 edition of the Africa Cup of Nations gets underway in Egypt this Friday June 21, 2019 with the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon seek to defend their title which they won in 2017.
The opening game of the competition sees host Egypt who have won the competition a record 7 time, facing Zimbabwe at the Cairo International stadium.
It will be the first time that 24 African countries will be looking to win the coveted prize and also the first time that the competition takes place in June-previous editions took place in the month of January with 16 teams
Cameroon will participate in the competition with 10 out of the 23 players who won the trophy in Gabon, due to various reasons. 2017 captain Benjamin Moukandjo and Nicolas Nkoulou, who scored in the final against Egypt, have all ended their participation with the lions.
The lions will be without star striker Vincent Aboubakar who was ruled out of the tournament due to injury. The 23-man squad released by Head Coach Clarence Seedorf left many sport analyst in the country questioning his decision and asking if at all those selection were actually done by him, without a hiding hand. Two notable players included in his selection are that of goalkeeper Carlos Kameni and Zach Zoua.
Idriss Carlos Kameni has not played competitive game for a long time. He is basically a full time bench warmer for his club side. That of Zoua has equally left many wanting as the player has not been consistent in front of goal, having not scored in a competitive game for Cameroon for some 8 years now.
In a press conference at Mont Febe hotel, head coach Clarence Seedorf defended his choice of selecting Zoua. He said “Zoua is a very important player. He can play in several positions. If Aboubakar would have been fit, Zoua maybe wouldn’t have made it. He can keep the ball. He works hard; he is always present with training”.
He does not scored goals but he works hard for the team. He has other characteristics we want, I hope you value how he works hard and press for the ball” Seedorf added while saying that “he scored goals against Alcoron, though it is not the best team you still need to be there to score”.
Cameroon qualified for the competition after finishing second behind group winners Morocco. Since qualifying for the competition, the team has been engaging in friendly games to better prepare themselves. Cameroon’s last friendly game was a 1 all draw against Mali.
Cameroon will get their title defence underway against Guinea Bissau in group F on the 25th of June 2019 at the Ismailia stadium. The country has won the competition four times and will look to climb up the winner’s medal and make it five wins. The other heavyweight in group F is Ghana, who faces Benin in the opening round. The next tough challenge for Cameroon that will test their credibility as champions comes against multiple winners The Black Stars of Ghana which comes up June 29, 2019.
The 32nd edition of the competition will be hosted in 6 stadia across four cities in Egypt (Cairo, Suez, Alexandria and Ismailia) with the final scheduled to take place on Friday July 19, 2019 at the Cairo International stadium.