AFCON 2022 kicked off over the weekend in spectacular fashion, with the colour and passion of the people of Africa clearly on display.
The tournament was delayed for a year due to Covid-19, and with this year’s World Cup to be staged in Qatar in November, CAF had to move the schedule back to January which has take star names away from Premier League clubs.
But despite the uncertainties, delays and tussles, the tournament is proving to be hugely exciting and the big names are already making their presence felt.
So with AFCON being shown on Sky Sports in the UK, here are five reasons why Premier League fans should keep an eye on the games in Cameroon.
Looking out for the next Premier League star
Some of the world’s best talents are out there representing their countries, and the eyes of scouts are monitoring every move to find the next generation’s Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Riyad Mahrez.
Some these young stars include Ilias Chair, an attacking midfielder with wizardry who has been lighting up the Championship with QPR.
He has been touted as one of the up and coming midfielders in English football, and it will be interesting to see how far he can go in a big tournament.
Pape Matar Sarr is a Tottenham Hotspur player who has been out on loan at French side Metz.
He has been sensational in France, and it’s worth saying that Antonio Conte and his coaching staff will be keeping an eye on the 19-year old who is part of the star-studded Senegal team led by Sadio Mane.
Frank Kessie has been linked to a host of clubs in the Premier League this winter transfer window, with the AC Milan man regarded as one of the best midfielders in the game at the moment.
He will be the heart of the Ivory Coast team, and fans will get to see how he can perform in a pressure situation in this tournament.
These among other future Premier League stars will be on display, and it’s a chance to see their game first hand.
To understand the heritage of your stars
Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Riyad Mahrez and Edouard Mendy are a few of the Premier League heavyweights that will be fighting out to be crowned African champions in Cameroon.
AFCON is a chance to see these stars in their native clothes.
It’s a carnival not just a football tournament, and you get to see the heritage of your favourite Premier League stars, the way they celebrate their roots and how they are viewed by people from their country.
In Egypt for example, Mohamed Salah is probably an even bigger celebrity than David Beckham is in England.
Live on television
For the first time in the tournament’s history, Sky Sports will televise every game live, bringing it to fans across the football world.
The BBC have also signed an agreement to show 10 games, so the Premier League fans don’t have to rely on a dodgy streaming website to catch a glimpse of the tournament.
For football lovers, the timing of the competition could not be better, games start at 1pm, 4pm and the late kick off is 7pm.
All games have top-level English commentary and top-level analysis to keep you glued to a different kind of football.
A chance to catch up with former Premier League stars
The AFCON doesn’t only give you a chance to look to the future, you can see what some of the former stars are up to.
Samuel Eto’o, who played at Chelsea and later Everton before hanging up his boots, is now the Cameroonian FA president and leading from the front with his country hosting the AFCON.
Sunderland fans will remember Wahbi Khazri, the powerful ex-Black Cats defender, who has gone on to make a brilliant career in France, and will be leading his Tunisia team to try and win the AFCON.
Stoke City fans will recall Maxim Choupo-Moting, who might be at Bayern Munich now but not long ago he was doing it on wet, windy nights in Stoke.
How can Evertonians ever forget Gana Gueye, the dynamic midfielder they signed for almost nothing and sold him for big money to PSG.
Gueye will be the engine on which the Senegalese team, who are one of the favourites, run on.
These, amongst other top European stars, will give a different feel to the tournament.
A level playing field
When watching the Euros, fans can observe the techniques of top players, while at the Copa America, viewers are treated to incredible skill.
The AFCON provides a combination of all that with even more physicality.
It’s the only tournament where there is a relatively level playing field, with no real superstar nations.
Zambia, a little country with regards to sporting heritage, won the competition recently, beating the mighty Ivory Coast led by Didier Drogba in his prime.
Nigeria, Cameroon and Algeria are amongst countries who have also won it recently, despite not being favourites at the start of the tournament.
Again, unlike the other continental competitions that have stand out favourites, the field is almost level at the AFCON, which always creates an exciting tournament where underdogs can triumph.