By Boris Esono Nwenfor
The 6 edition of the African Nations Championship, CHAN 2021 gets underway in Cameroon from January 16 to February 7, 2021. 16 teams are participating in the competition with host Cameroon looking to go beyond the quarter-final of the competition.
The Africa Nations Championship, a competition solely for local players was scheduled for 2020 but had to be postponed to 2021 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
It promises to be a mouth-watering and a high-level competition from all the countries involved with some trying to win for the first time while others will look to extend their title cabinet. Here, Pan African Visions looks at some of the countries who are tipped to win the trophy either for the first time or added to their trophies already won.
Cameroon competes in the tournament as host. The country did not enter the qualifiers after the won the rights to host the CHAN. The intermediate Lions will participate in the competition with new coach Martin Ntoungou Mpile after the sacking of Yves Clement Arroga.
It is his second stint as head coach of the intermediate Lions of Cameroon having managed the team to quarter-final during the 2016 African Nations Championship in Rwanda. Cameroon will be making their fourth appearance in the tournament, after previously taking part in 2011, 2016 and 2018.
The Indomitable Lions have never gone past the quarterfinals. They did so in 2011 and 2016 and will hope to correct those statistics when they host Africa. Mpile and his team have been handed the mission to take Cameroon right to the final and to improve the system of play of the team in the CHAN.
Cameroon will rely on players like Banga Solomon, Bamboutos Player Christian Mayo, Yannick Ndjeng, Banga, Rene Ndi amongst others to propel them to the title.
Morocco is coming into this competition as the defending champions. They became the first country to host and win the trophy in 2018 during the 5th edition of the competition. They beat Nigeria by 4 goals to 1.
The North Africans will be appearing for the fourth time at the continental tournament, having made their debut in 2014 in South Africa.
The Atlas Lions got as far the quarterfinals six years ago, topping Group B ahead of Zimbabwe, Uganda and Burkina Faso before losing a 4-3 thriller after extra time to Nigeria.
In Rwanda in 2016, Morocco was eliminated in the first round, as they finished behind Ivory Coast and hosts Rwanda in Group A.
Morocco will open their campaign on January 18, 2021, in Douala when they face tournament debutants, Togo. Four days later they take on Rwanda, while their group stage campaign will be wrapped up on January 26 when they battle Uganda.
Democratic Republic of Congo
The Democratic Republic of Congo headlines group B. They are the most successful team in the competition. They have won the competition twice (2009 and 2016) out of the five editions and will hope to make it three times during the Cameroon expedition.
The DR Congo Intermediate Lions is under TP Mazemba trainer Pamphile Mihayo and he has hope that before the start of the championship, his team will be ready.
The Mediterranean Knights crowned CHAN champions in 2014 will begin the quest to become champions for the second time as they face Niger on 17 January 2021. Montenegrin Zoran Filipovic will lead the Libyan national team in the Chan championship with the assistance of national coach Mohamed Al-Kikli.
The Libyan Football Federation (LFF) recently released a list of players to participate at the 6th edition of the CHAN. The team includes 28 players from seven clubs that are playing in Libya’s premier league, which was suspended for about 18 months.
Libya secured a place in the competition for footballers playing in their country of birth after Tunisia, the team that defeated them in a qualifier, withdrew.
Zoran Filipovic has previously worked in Africa 10 years ago, saving South African Premiership club Golden Arrows from relegation during 12 months with the Durban club.
The first task of Filipovic, who was capped 13 times by the then Yugoslavia as a forward, will be to prepare Libya for the African Nations Championship (CHAN) in Cameroon next month.
“I promise to give my all to the cause of the Libyan national team,” said the 67-year-old during a press conference in Tripoli.
Burkina Faso will be making its third appearance during the Cameroon expedition after that of 2014 and 2018.
The Head coach of the local Stallions of Burkina Faso Seydou Zerbo made known a list of 33 players instead of the normal 23 player squad to participate at the 6th edition of the Africa Nations Championship, CHAN 2021.
Burkina Faso summoned top scorer of the first leg, Mohamed Lamine Ouattara of AS Sonabel, striker of EFO, Yannick Pognogo, and experienced goalkeeper, Babayouré Sawadogo were all called up to the group.
The country will hope to improve their performance has never gone past the group stage and the Cameroon expedition may just be that year that the country finally improves on that performance as wins the competition. They will first have to battle their way out of the group stage if they are to be victorious this year.