Dazzling opening ceremony for AFCON/ Egypt Today
CAIRO – 21 June 2019: With fireworks, pharaonic costumes and joyful song by Egyptian folk singer Hakim, Nigerian Femi kuti and Côte d'Ivoiren Dobet gnahore, the 2019 African Nations Championship (AFCON) kicked off at Cairo International Stadium on Friday.
The ceremony witnessed breathtaking show that lasted for 17 minutes unlike opening ceremonies of other championships, which normally last between 12 and 15 minutes.
Egypt’s President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi welcomed all African teams participating in the 2019 African Nations Championship (AFCON) in his inaugurating speech, wishing them good luck.
Sisi arrived earlier at the stadium, giving green light for the championship and welcomed the African football teams and fans “in their second home, Egypt”.
Attended the ceremony, the Swiss president of Confederation of the International Football Association "FIFA" Gianni Infantino , and partner of the event Ahmad Ahmad, President of the CAF, as well as Dr. Mostafa Madbouli, Prime Minister and Chairman of the Higher Committee of the Championship and Dr. Ashraf Subhi, Minister of Youth.
The first match will kick off shortly, as host, Egypt will face Zimbabwe.
The AFCON matches will take place at stadiums in Cairo, Alexandria, Ismailia, and Suez Canal governorate, starting on Friday until July 19. Two hospitals in every governorate were allocated for receiving possible injured or ill fans as 30 percent of the hospital beds were allocated for emergency cases.
This year’s edition is considered the biggest Africa Cup of Nations ever with 24 teams. Egypt will stage the competition from June 21 until July 19.
The tournament was increased from 16 to 24 teams, in a similar format to Euro 2016, Egypt is hosting this tournament for a 5th time. The Pharaohs are the most successful team in the tournament's history, winning seven times.
Photos by: Husieen Talal, Kareem Abdel Aziz and Reuters