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Egypt welcomes Africa’s biggest stars as Nations Cup begins

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From Cape to Cairo, all of Africa are tuned in to Egypt, where the biggest sporting event in the continent will kick off today. It is the African Cup of Nations and the continent’s brightest stars say they are ready to kick the ball.

Today’s opening match will see hosts, Egypt taking on Zimbabwe in a game that would show how the Pharaohs are prepared to regain the trophy they last won in Angola 2010.The Pharaohs have won all the competition they hosted, the last time being the 2006 edition in which they beat Cote d’Ivoire in the final.

Led by Mohamed Salah, Egypt are once again the favourites for the competition. They are closely followed by Senegal, who are looking to win AFCON for the first time with fellow Liverpool winger, Sadio Mane in their ranks.

Morocco and the young Nigeria side are also among the favourites, but there are rank outsiders like South Africa, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana and Guinea, who could rock the boat.Algeria have never won a football match in Egypt and will have to change that very quickly if they want to succeed. Burundi, Madagascar and Mauritania are all making their debuts in the newly expanded tournament to 24 teams. The competition is also in the summer for the first time.

Cameroun are the holders and they are now led by legend of the game, Clarence Seedorf with Patrick Kluivert, as assistant. There are six groups of four teams, with the best 16 sides making it through to the knockout stages.

For Nigerian fans, who will watch the competition at home, they have so many options to choose from, as DSTV and the NTA/HotSports have acquired the rights to satellite and terrestrial broadcast of the matches respectively.Already, The Guardian has deployed two of its crack journalists, Mr. Gowon Akpodonor and Mr. Samuel Ifetoye to Egypt to bring to Nigerians the on-the-field and off-field events throughout the competition.

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Mohamed SalahSadio Mane
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