The draw for the Afcon in January 2022 in Cameroon was held on Tuesday night after the pandemic that decimated Africa’s most important competition.
There are many arguments against and for the new format, with 24 more teams representing 16 countries. However, ardent fans of the beautiful game will likely just enjoy the return of this showpiece after a long absence.
The result of the new format is that four third-placed sides still make the group, which essentially reduces the intrigue of encounters on the group stage.
Nigeria was drawn in Group D with Sudan, Guinea-Bissau, Egypt and Sudan. Gernot Rohr’s men hope to get back on track after their stuttering in 2019 against Madagascar.
Nigeria appears to be one of the most powerful countries, especially in attack, where Gernot Rohr has many options.
After beating Tunisia in third place, the Super Eagles won a bronze medal. They were eliminated in the semis by Riyad Mahrez’s stunning free-kick at death.
The West African nation will be relying on Victor Osimhen, joint-top scorer with five strikes in qualifying, and Kelechi Iheanacho for their finishing prowess.
Rohr’s men appear to be a strong group theoretically but performance under the German tactician has dipped in recent times.
It is yet to be seen whether the veteran boss will lead Nigeria to a fourth African title in 2019.
Mohamed Salah leads an Egypt side that disappointedly lost as hosts under Javier Aguirre, exiting in the Round of 16 against South Africa.
Hossam El Badry, along with Trezeguet and Mohamed Elneny as well as Akram Tawfik and Ahmed Hegazi, has a strong side that can hurt the West Africans.
Nigeria has suffered some devastating defeats against North African nations in the past. They might need to win against the Pharaohs to avoid a difficult draw in Round 16 if they finish second in Group D.
The nation from Northeast Africa has not played at the Afcon in 2012, and they will be hoping to claim a few scalps in Cameroon.
After four wins and two losses, Sudan finished second in their qualifying group with 12 points. This placed them behind Ghana, but also severely hampered South Africa’s chances to play in the tournament next year.
However, Nigeria should claim three points against the fallen giants during their second fixture.
The outcome of Nigeria’s match against Guinea-Bissau could decide whether they win or lose.
The two nations will meet for the first time at this continental competition. Rohr’s side will support themselves to win all three points against any nation that remains unbeaten at the hallowed competition.
If Nigeria fails to finish in Group D, it could face Algeria — which is currently on a 27-game win streak — in Round 16. This will likely bring Nigeria up against Algeria, who are currently on a 17-game unbeaten run. It would also end the West African giants’ journey with their mixed record against North African sides.
Although football can sometimes produce unexpected results, it is not uncommon for Egypt or the Super Eagles to be the top team in the group.
Although the Pharaohs won their last meeting in 2010, Rohr’s team believes they can silence Liverpool’s star Salah and secure victory to avoid an embarrassing clash with Algeria.
We expect the three-time African champions will start slowly and meet Mahrez’s defending champions.