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Africa Cup of Nations

Afcon 2021: African legends Amuneke, Madjer, Jaidi, Kalla and Tiehi make tournament predictions

09:47 GMT 09/01/2022
AFCON winners
Ahead of the opening ceremony of the African football fiesta in Cameroon on Sunday, GOAL spoke to former champions of the competition

Cameroon legend Raymond Kalla, Ivory Coast’s Joel Tiehi, legendary Nigerian winger Emmanuel Amuneke, ex-Algeria star Rabah Madjer and Radhi Jaidi of Tunisia have predicted the contenders of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.

The 33rd edition of the biennial tournament will start in Cameroon on Sunday with the opening fixture between the Indomitable Lions and Burkina Faso at Olembe Stadium.

Algeria are the defending champions after beating Senegal in the 2019 final, but Kalla – who was part of Cameroon’s victorious squads at the 2000 and 2002 editions – is tipping the host nation as favourites and he also backed Morocco to also put in a strong challenge.

“There are many countries that are going to compete in the tournament. But I think Cameroon, as a host country, is the favourite. They will have the supporters with them,” Kalla told GOAL.

“There is also Algeria, which has a very good team. I could also quote Senegal. And without forgetting Morocco who can do something. But when you have good individuals, you have to prove it on the ground.

“You can have good players, but if you don't have that passion to win, you can't do anything. And you have to have the strength and the desire to do well and that's why I put Cameroon first.”

Meanwhile, former Ivory Coast striker Joel Tiehi, who won the 1992 edition, finds it difficult to single out a country for the trophy at the early stage of the competition and he suggested waiting for the last eight teams.

“Everyone seems to give Algeria who will try to stay the course. I would say there is no favourite. There are a lot of great teams,” Tiehi said. “They are known to all. I am not someone who makes this kind of forecast.

“I'm waiting to see what there will be on the field because there are quality selections. To be fixed on the strengths of each, I think it is necessary to wait for the quarter-finals.”

On his part, 1994 Afcon champion Emmanuel Amuneke with Nigeria is anticipating a high-level playing ground in Cameroon and he is expecting the Super Eagles to challenge for a fourth continental crown and their first since 2013.

“Being from Nigeria, I'll say Nigeria of course, but for sure there are a lot of great teams out there,” the former Tanzania coach said.

“The level will be very high. I think that from the first matches we will be able to see who is in a position to go far. Group winners will have a good chance of triumphing.”

For Rabah Madjer, the 2019 finalists are still his favourites for the crown and he also mentioned Burkina Faso, Mali, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia.

“The favourites will be Algeria and Senegal,” the 1987 African Footballer of the Year said. “Without forgetting Cameroon, host country and organiser of this Afcon and who will always be a worthy ambassador of Africa.

“Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia have competition in their legs after the last Arab Cup and this must be taken into account. Without forgetting the Ivory Coast who will have its say. And there is Burkina-Faso who recently drew 2-2 against Algeria. It's still a good team and it can hurt teams. Just like Mali who will have the ambition to go far.”

Radhi Jaidi, a member of Tunisia’s 2004 Afcon winning squad, sees three North African countries and Senegal as strong contenders for the title in Cameroon.

“Clearly, there are two, three teams that are the favourites. There is Algeria who have dominated African football for the last few years,” the Esperance coach said. “They have played 34 matches without defeat. It sets a new level and shows how hard it will be to fight to win the Cup.

“There is also Senegal, 90per cent of whose players play for big teams in Europe. There is of course Egypt who hold the record for Afcon titles. It's still a great nation without forgetting Morocco. In any case, the level of competition will be very high.”