AFCON 2019: Meet the 24 teams heading to Egypt
Background Image: Citadelite, CC-BY-3.0
Tickets to Egypt for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations were filled after two grinding years. Fifty-four nations began the race. Thirty fell along the way. Only 24 survived to earn a place in the land of the Pharaohs. Cameroon also fell as tournament hosts, but that's a story already told. Now, another hectic journey begins.
The 2019 AFCON qualifying series wasn't devoid of drama. Confederation of African Football president Issa Hayatou was ousted from office in March 2017 after a nearly two-decade tyranny.
A self-acclaimed progressive thinker, Madagascar's Ahmad Ahmad pledged to drastically overhaul the African game, adding a bit more glamour, as Hayatou's successor. To begin, he proposed an expanded Nations Cup with an additional eight teams. The 24-nation field will meet on odd years.
Then Cameroon struggled to meet infrastructure requirements on schedule as 2019 AFCON hosts. After continued delays, Egypt belatedly agreed to take on the responsibility in January. The starting date was pushed back a week to accommodate Ramadan.
The worst occurred during a qualifier in Antananarivo between Madagascar and Senegal. A deadly stampede ensued in which one supporter died and a further 40 were injured.
Hopefully, the drama in Egypt will be of the more positive variety. Here's a quick peek at the qualified nations.