Thu, 20 Jun 2019 - 10:40 GMT
Egyptian employees and security complete their work on the field of the Cairo International Stadium, ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations opening in Cairo, Egypt June 19, 2019. Picture taken June 19, 2019. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
CAIRO – 21 June 2019: The 2019 Africa Cup of Nations kicks off on Friday, June 21, as host Egypt will face Zimbabwe.
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.
The hosting rights were taken off Cameroon in November because of slow preparations and security concerns.
In January, Egypt was announced host of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations by the Confederation of African Football (CAF).
Matches will be held at eight stadiums during the tournament, hosting in five different cities, namely Alexandria, Ismailia, Port Said, Suez and the capital Cairo.
Countries have been drawn into six groups of four and will face each group opponent once.
Group A: Egypt, DR Congo, Uganda, Zimbabwe
Group B: Nigeria, Guinea, Madagascar, Burundi
Group C: Senegal, Algeria, Kenya, Tanzania
Group D: Morocco, Ivory Coast, South Africa, Namibia
Group E: Tunisia, Mali, Mauritania, Angola
Group F: Cameroon, Ghana, Benin, Guinea-Bissau
Liverpool trio Mo Salah (Egypt), Mane (Senegal) , and Naby Keita (Guinea) will be among the Premier League talent on display.
Crystal Palace forward Wilfried Zaha and Tottenham full-back Serge Aurier have been included in Ivory Coast's squad, while Manchester City title-winner Riyad Mahrez is Algeria's star man.
Other top-flight players involved include Arsenal's Alex Iwobi (Nigeria), Spurs midfielder Victor Wanyama (Kenya), and Everton's Idrissa Gueye (Senegal) .
Egypt has adopted a new electronic ticketing system that will help keep fans safe and prevent crowd trouble as security tightens ahead of the African Cup of Nations.
Tickets have only been available for sale online and the buyer has to enter their national ID or passport number, a system that allows authorities to vet and track fans, as well as limiting black-market sales.
Dozens of police officers and armored vehicles were deployed around Cairo stadium this week, with strict security checks.
Security and surveillance cameras of the highest quality were also installed all around the stadium.
With a seven-month deadline, Egypt launched extensive operations to revamp six stadiums in four cities, including the 75,000-seat Cairo venue.