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Sports

Africa Cup of Nations teams prepare to discover their fate

media Cameroon won the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations after coming from behind to beat Egypt 2-1. Mike Hutchings Livepic/Reuters

Egypt and Cameroon will savour the benefits of footballing tradition when the draw for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations takes place in Cairo on Friday.

The hosts and the title-holders respectively will be among the top six seeds even though their world rankings ought to place them in the second of the four pots in the draw.

The Cup of Nations organisers, the Confederation of African Football (Caf), opted to use the latest list compiled by world football's governing body, Fifa, to stream the sides for the draw. But Caf have nodded to the charms of yore as well.

The other four top seeds are Senegal, Tunisia, Nigeria and Morocco.

Democratic Republic of Congo and Ghana - nudged out by Egypt and Cameroon - are in the second pot with Mali, Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea and Algeria.

The third group of six includes South Africa, Uganda, Benin, Mauritania, Madagascar and Kenya.

Zimbabwe, Namibia, Guinea-Bissau, Angola, Tanzania and Burundi are in the fourth pot.

Revamp

Egypt 2019 will be the first time 24 teams have competed for the continent's most prestigious national team prize since the tournament's inception in 1957. It will also be the first competition to take place in June and July rather than January and February.

"A 24-team Africa Cup of Nations is beyond the logistical capabilities of many African nations," said Peter Alegi, author of African Soccerscapes. "But obviously not all of them. The solution may be to return to the larger countries or more co-hosting of tournaments."

Alegi added, "there might be something more akin to what we will see in the European championships in 2020, where essentially you'll have a pan-European tournament with major cities all across Europe hosting matches."

For the 2019 extravaganza, the teams will start in six groups of four and will play each side once.

The top two from each of the six pools will automatically qualify for the last 16 along with the four best third-placed teams. It will be a knockout competition from then on to find the successor to Cameroon.

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