The countdown is on to the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations set to be hosted by Cameroon from January 9 to February 6, 2022. The hosts will be itching to welcome the whole of Africa after their initial slot was postponed from two years ago, and this promises another pulsating event in the West African country.
The debate over who will win AFCON 2022 is well and truly on. The usual crop of nations who are capable of ruling Africa will rumble on till the tournament begins. However, there are always a couple of dark horses which excite fans along the way.
Our AFCON 2022 winner predictions will look deeper into those who will likely win AFCON 2022. In this piece, we will evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the best competing nations. The upcoming continental showpiece is an expanded tournament format that allows four of the six third-placed teams to reach the knockouts, making AFCON 2022 winner predictions slightly easier. This is because Africa's giants are unlikely to fail at the group stage.
Hence, who will inherit the role of Madagascar and Benin as the new names in the knockout stages of the 2019 AFCON or take Algeria’s crown in Yaoundé come February 6?
Who will win AFCON 2022? Here is our list of likely winners
The hosts are backed by historical pedigree being five-time AFCON winners who have been to the most World Cups from Africa (seven). The former Olympic Gold medalists are drawn in Group A alongside Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, and Cape Verde for this festival on home soil.
The Indomitable Lions have come a long way since Clarence Seedorf’s unsuccessful tenure in 2019. They will have raucous home support to push them. Needless to say, Toni Conceição’s men could well recreate their heroics of 2017 and deliver a sensational win in front of their home crowd.
Cameroon opens the 2022 tournament against the Burkinabes at the Olembe Stadium and they will hope it represents the start of a successful campaign.
Having won five of their six 2022 World Cup qualifying second-round games, losing only to Ivory Coast, Cameroon is well-equipped to once again stun the continent and make a good account of themselves.
They will be pinning their hopes on a number of stats. Names like André Onana, who just returned from global suspension, captain Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui and André-Frank Zambo Anguissa rank high. Elsewhere, they have Pierre Kunde, Karl Toko Ekambi, Vincent Aboubakar, Christian Bassogog, and the flamboyant Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting.
The Super Eagles are drawn in Group D alongside old foes Egypt, Sudan, and Guinea Bissau. On paper, they are expected to comfortably progress. Should Nigeria march on as group winners, they will meet any of the third-placed teams in Group B, E, and F while a second-place finish will see the Eagles play against the winner of Group E. If they finish among the best third-placed teams then Nigeria will meet the winner of Group B.
The talented core of young players currently in their ranks could easily turn out to become a golden generation in Nigerian football history. AFCON 2022 represents the first tournament for this particular group.
Although they might be arriving in Cameroon without their current head coach and main marksman, Victor Osimhen, Nigeria is more vibrant than Egypt at the moment and have more weapons to their Arsenal. A strong performance against Egypt on Matchday 1 could indeed propel the Super Eagles to a successful outing.
Possessing the talents of Wilfred Ndidi, Kelechi Iheanacho, Taiwo Awoniyi, Alex Iwobi, Samuel Chukwueze, William Troost-Ekong, Frank Onyeka and Ola Aina. The three-time African champions boast of players who are the envy of just about any nation in Africa.
The Pharaohs need no introduction to the challenges of conquering the continent having won AFCON a record number of times. They are default challengers at any continental showpiece they enter.
Egypt are the second part of an esteemed group involving Nigeria, having won a combined 10 AFCON tournaments between them and the 2022 winners could very well be from group D.
The seven-time champions of Africa know how to rise to the occasion in continental competitions and they would be riding on that second nature of overcoming their adversities.
Hossam El-Badry’s men are a well-equipped side that will be bolstered by arguably the best player on the planet right now, Mohamed Salah, but their strength is in the collective.
Any victory in Cameroon will hinge on how much they can depend on the togetherness and unity which has served them so well in the past.
The tournament favourites and defending champions are enjoying a 27-game unbeaten run which will not please Group E rivals Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, and Equatorial Guinea.
The Fennec Foxes sensationally conquered Africa with an aging side in 2019. However, they will be looking to become just the fourth nation after Egypt, Ghana, and Cameroon to successfully defend their AFCON title.
Djamel Belmadi’s side naturally looks to captain Riyad Mahrez’s decisiveness but record goalscorer Islam Slimani will have his eyes set on a goal-laden campaign while the rest of their incredibly talented side contribute to history.
Algeria showed the technical and tactical edge in 2019 as well as the gamesmanship which saw them over the line many a time. A united effort should once again be good enough to conquer the best in Africa as they chase Italy’s longest unbeaten record in international football.
In truth, one of the best generations of one of the best African teams in history is more than capable of cementing its legacy at Cameroon 2022.
Aliou Cissé’s men captured the imagination of Africa in 2019 when their wonderful band of superstars got desperately close to clinching their first-ever AFCON triumph.
Defeat to Algeria two years ago obviously hurt their world-class performers and the Teranga Lions will have retribution firmly in their minds in Cameroon. Having now lost the 2002 and 2019 finals, Senegal is determined to right their wrongs and they will begin their quest alongside Guinea, Zimbabwe, and Malawi in group B.
The Teranga Lions will have their sights on emulating Cameroon in 1988 who were the only side to win the next AFCON after losing the previous final and will be banking on their galactico generation to finally break their duck.
Possessing a solid defense and sparkling attack, Senegal is more than a mere challenger. Édouard Mendy is currently the best goalkeeper in Africa if not the world. Then Sadio Mané, Kalidou Koulibaly, Idrissa Gueye, Cheikhou Kouyaté, Ismaïla Sarr and the likes make up a wonderful selection.
Write them off at your own peril.
This article was most recently revised and updated 5 days ago