The Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) is finally here, and host Cameroon will get the competition underway on the opening day of the tournament Sunday.
The Indomitable Lions, who last won the tournament in 2017, will be one of 24 nations looking to succeed Algeria as African champions. Led by Manchester City's Riyad Mahrez and forward Baghdad Bounedjah, the Algerians had a memorable 2019 run to their second AFCON crown, beating Senegal in the final. The Senegalese, who are the bookmakers' favorite to win it all, will once again be expected to contend and will open play on the second day of the tournament.
Senegal has a star-studded front line led by Liverpool's Sadio Mane. His club teammate Mohamed Salah is arguably the biggest star at the event and will have pressure to help carry Egypt to its first AFCON championship since 2010. Ajax forward Sebastien Haller (Ivory Coast) is another in-form candidate to star at AFCON.
Given the surge in COVID-19 cases around the globe attributed to the omicron variant, precautions are being taken by organizers and matches will be held in front of reduced crowds with only vaccinated fans gaining admission. What's clear is that there will be no postponements and 11 players will be enough for any team to take the field. The expanded 28-player rosters and five substitutes (including a sixth for extra time) are expected to help coaches navigate potential outbreaks.
How to watch AFCON 2022
- Dates: Jan. 9 through Feb. 6 (52 matches)
- Times: 8 a.m., 11 a.m., 2 p.m. ET
- TV Channels: beIN Sports, beIN Sports XTRA
- Spanish-language TV: beIN Sports en Espanol, beIN Sports XTRA en Espanol
- Streaming: fuboTV, beIN Sports Connect and other platforms
The AFCON tournament will be carried by beIN Sports in the USA and Canada, and coverage will be available in both English and Spanish.
Cable and satellite TV channels beIN Sports and beIN Sports en Espanol will carry matches, as will free channel beIN Sports XTRA. Fans can access all of them on fuboTV, which is available for new users via a free trial.
beIN streams are also available for users of Fanatiz and YouTube TV. And since beIN XTRA is free, it's available on a host of other streaming platforms including Roku and Pluto TV.
AFCON 2022 matches today
As is customary for major football events around the world, the host nation will get things started in Group A.
Cameroon is considered the best team in its four-team group, but it will have a tricky opening test against a competitive Burkina Faso side. That match will be followed by the other two Group A teams facing off in the same Stade d'Olembe in the capital, Yaounde.
Bookmakers have Cameroon as the overwhelming favorite to finish top of Group A with Burkina Faso projected as the second-best team in the group and battling Cape Verde for second place behind the Indomitable Lions. Ethiopia is not given much of a chance to advance, but it could prove the doubters wrong with a strong opening match.
Sunday, Jan. 9
|Match||Time (ET)||TV channels||Stream|
|Cameroon vs. Burkina Faso (Group A)||11 a.m.||beIN XTRA & XTRA Espanol||fuboTV|
|Ethiopia vs. Cape Verde (Group A)||2 p.m.||beIN XTRA & XTRA Espanol||fuboTV|
On the second day of the competition, Monday, Jan. 10, fans will be treated to four matches as Groups B and C get underway with all teams in action.
Monday, Jan. 10
|Match||Time (ET)||TV channels||Stream|
|Senegal vs. Zimbabwe (Group B)||8 a.m.||beIN Sports, beIN en Espanol||fuboTV|
|Morocco vs. Ghana (Group C)||11 a.m.||beIN XTRA & XTRA Espanol||fuboTV|
|Guinea vs. Malawi (Group B)||11 a.m.||— (4 p.m. on beIN Sports)||—|
|Comoros vs. Gabon (Group C)||2 p.m.||beIN Sports, beIN en Espanol||fuboTV|
AFCON 2022 tournament format
Similar to other continental championships and World Cup tournaments, the Africa Cup of Nations begins with a group stage, followed by knockout rounds all the way to the final.
- Group stage: Jan. 9-20
- Round of 16: Jan. 23-26
- Quarterfinals: Jan. 29-30
- Semifinals: Feb. 2-3
- Third place: Feb. 6
- Final: Feb. 6
The 24 nations are divided into six groups of four nations each. At the conclusion of round-robin group play — with three points awarded for a win, one for a draw and none for a loss — the top two teams in each group based on points (and tiebreakers, if necessary) advance to the knockouts. The remaining slots in the Round of 16 will be filled out by the four best third-place finishers.
A predetermined knockout bracket will be played out all the way through to the final. If any knockout match ends in a tie after 90 minutes, the teams will play 30 minutes of extra time. If the draw persists, a penalty-kick shootout will determine the team to move on. The third-place match is the only one that would skip extra time and move straight to the shootout in case of a draw.
For the first time in the competition's history, all 52 matches will feature the use of a Video Assistant Referee (VAR).
Who will win AFCON 2022?
Judging by BetMGM's odds, we could be in for another Senegal-Algeria final. The nations were given the shortest odds to win it all and their odds only shortened in the week before the AFCON kickoff. Senegal is given a slight edge over defending champion Algeria.
It's not a surprise to see some of the other traditional African powers on the list of 10 nations most likely to win it, but based on the odds movement it looks as if bettors have been fading Nigeria, Egypt, Ghana and Tunisia in the lead-up.
|Senegal||+350 (from +550)|
|Algeria||+450 (from +600)|
|Ivory Coast||+750 (unchanged)|
|Egypt||+800 (from +600)|
|Cameroon||+850 (from +800)|
|Morocco||+850 (from +900)|
|Nigeria||+1000 (from +800)|
|Mali||+1600 (from +2200)|
|Ghana||+1800 (from +1400)|
|Tunisia||+2200 (from +1600)|