The Confederation of Africa Football (CAF) organized Africa Cup of Nations has witnessed a number of innovations as it evolved over the years from its humble beginnings as a four-nation invitational in 1957.
Now in its 32nd edition, the 2019 AFCON which is set to kick off in a month’s time in Egypt will feature 24 teams for the first time ever and the June kick-off date is also another departure from established tradition, with the tournament having mostly held in January.
The move to expand the biennial tournament from 16 to 24 teams has provided a number of teams with the opportunity of making their bow at the continental footballing showpiece with a number of teams also afforded the chance of reappearing after long periods of absence.
CAF’s move to involve more teams has been hailed by former Senegal international Khalilou Fadiga who believes that the development is a positive move in the right direction.
“I think it’s a good one to give more chances to every country in the continent to participate at least one time in the African Cup,” Fadiga who earned a runners-up medal with Senegal at the 2002 AFCON told busybuddiesng.com. “And you know the African Cup for us in our continent is the biggest tournament so we are really glad that it has been extended to 24 teams.”
The ex-Auxerre and Bolton Wanderers midfielder who earned 37 caps for the Teranga Lions also said he was looking forward to a veritable feast of football and expressed hope that Nigeria and Senegal would put up solid showings in Egypt.
“[I expect] the best [of] football, I want to see a lot of nice matches and I hope that in the end, it’s going to be maybe Senegal and Nigeria – we never know, but we have two strong teams, two young teams, very, very good and I think Senegal and Nigeria can make it to the end.”