2021 Africa Cup of Nations: Holders Algeria and Ivory Coast renew rivalry

Sierra Leone and Equatorial Guinea also drawn in Group E for tournament to be held in Cameroon

Holders Algeria will face old rivals Ivory Coast at the delayed 2021 Africa Cup of Nations following Tuesday's draw in Yaounde, Cameroon on Tuesday.

Algeria beat the Ivorians via penalty shootout in the quarter-finals on their way to winning the 2019 Afcon.

The 2021 edition was delayed a year by the coronavirus pandemic and will now be held in Cameroon between January 9 and February 6, 2022.

It would be a shock if the Algerians and Ivorians did not fill the top two spots in Group E, leaving Sierra Leone and Equatorial Guinea are the other two countries to fight for possible qualification as one of the four best third-placed teams.

"We have a very good group, with quality, very young, with a lot of ambition," former Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba told AFP after taking part in the draw. "I think we will be up to it."

Algeria are the form team as they boast an African record 27-match unbeaten run since November 2018.

Cameroon, seeking a sixth Cup of Nations title, were put in Group A with Burkina Faso, who they will face in the opening match in Yaounde, Ethiopia and Cape Verde.

Record seven-time African champions Egypt share Group D with three-time winners Nigeria, Sudan and Guinea-Bissau, who have been transformed from minnows to qualifying three times in a row.

Egypt can call on Liverpool star Mohamed Salah as they seek to atone for a poor showing as 2019 hosts, falling to South Africa in the last 16.

Sadio Mane-inspired Senegal, beaten by Algeria in both the group stage and the final two years ago, will be hotly fancied to top Group B, which includes Zimbabwe, Guinea and Malawi.

Tunisia, who have qualified for every Cup of Nations since 1994, are in Group F with Mali, Mauritania and the Gambia, who along with the Comoros are debutants.

Morocco, whose only Cup of Nations success came in 1976, and four-time champions Ghana look the strongest contenders in Group C, which the Comoros and Gabon complete.

Speaking ahead of the draw, Confederation of African Football president Patrice Motsepe said he hoped for an "exciting, competitive and successful" tournament as Cameroon play hosts for a second time.

Cameroon were originally due to stage the African football showcase in 2019 but fell behind with preparations and Egypt stepped in as late replacements.

The 2021 tournament dates have changed twice, first because of fears that torrential seasonal rains could affect the tight schedule, and then because of the coronavirus pandemic.

2021 Africa Cup of Nations draw

Group A: Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Cape Verde

Group B: Senegal, Zimbabwe, Guinea, Malawi

Group C: Morocco, Ghana, Comoros, Gabon

Group D: Nigeria, Egypt, Sudan, Guinea-Bissau

Group E: Algeria, Sierra Leone, Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast

Group F: Tunisia, Mali, Mauritania, Gambia

Note: Group winners and runners-up and the four best third-placed teams qualify for knockout stage

Updated: August 18th 2021, 7:18 AM
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