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Five reasons to get excited about AFCON 2022, including top stars like Salah & Mendy on show and FREE UK viewing

The 2022 African Nations Cup kicks off today and promises to be an epic month of football.

The league has caused controversy in England with a host of Premier League managers having criticized it.

Liverpool teammates Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah will face each other at AFCON as Senegal and Egypt battle for the title

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Liverpool teammates Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah will face each other at AFCON as Senegal and Egypt battle for the titleCredit: Getty

Jurgen Klopp is said to have been ‘disrespectful’ competition is coming because of his disappointment at the loss of three key players, even though his squad has been stretched by injury, Covid and a packed schedule.

And while AFCON may have been shrouded in controversy after finally being given the green light to move on, there’s plenty to cheer about.

Check out five reasons we think you should follow…

1. SEA OF STARS

FIRST and foremost, the quality of the show would simply be ludicrous.

Mohamed Salah has every right to believe that he is the best player on the planet right now – and that he will fight for Egypt for the tournament hosted by Cameroon.

Just look at his Liverpool teammates – with Sadio Mane (Senegal) and Naby Keita (Guinea) are also present at AFCON.

Edouard Mendy, Riyad Mahrez, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Thomas Partey, Wilfried Zaha and Wilfred Ndidi are just a few of the Premier League stars who are also joining Cameroon.

Achraf Hakimi, Kalidou Koulibaly, Andre Onana and goal-loving Sebastien Haller will also be on the show.

With this kind of star quality, why would you NOT want to watch?

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2. WONDERKIDS WATCH

EVERYONE loves to see a young prospect shine on the biggest stage – whether it’s club or country.

And AFCON will see a flurry of young talent protect their belongings.

With many still fighting to start their clubs, the likes of Manchester United or Tottenham’s Hannibal Mejbri and Pape Matar Sarr will have a point to prove.

So does RB Leipzig star Ilaix Moriba, who has struggled to live up to the hype after bursting into action at Barcelona and joining RB Leipzig.

Manchester City youngster Issa Kabore will also have big minutes.

Of course, there will always be wildcards.

In 2015, a relatively unknown Espanyol defender became the head of Europe’s biggest clubs with some dazzling displays for Ivory Coast.

That 20-year-old is Eric Bailly, who has moved to Villarreal and Man Utd, with a stellar performance at AFCON, his launch pad to date.

3. IT’S ANYONE’S GAME

The BEST leagues have their clear favorites.

The Euro features France and Italy, while the hugely popular Copa America features Brazil and Argentina.

But the great thing about AFCON is the level of the playing field.

Since Egypt dominated with three consecutive wins from 2006 to 2010, no country has won the competition more than once.

Zambia stunned Ivory Coast on penalties in 2012, while Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Cameroon and Algeria have all lifted the trophy since.

This time, Senegal were the early favorites – but it fell short with Algeria, Egypt, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Morocco, Nigeria and Ghana all trailing behind.

It’s the apparent lack of interest – combined with the league’s record of one or two surprise packs doing a deep run – that makes it a compelling watch from first turn to turn. Final.

Man Utd with Hannibal Mejbri will be one of the talented young players at the tournament

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Man Utd with Hannibal Mejbri will be one of the talented young players at the tournamentCredit: AFP

4. TURN ON THE PHONE

SO, here’s the cherry… all 52 matches – from the group stage opening to the final – were broadcast live on TV.

Sky Sports will show every match live, with the BBC showing ten matches – including two quarter-finals, semi-final and final.

That means, as with the Premier League, Carabao Cup, FA Cup and other domestic leagues, we’ve had a solid month of AFCON action to entertain.

The tournament opens on January 9 and ends with the final on February 6.

Better yet, all matches take place in a super friendly against Great Britain – with matches kicking off at 1pm, 4pm and 7pm.

And until it’s over, we’ll go straight to the round of 16 of the Champions League.

5. PURE

IN the first lockout, we all happily watched to see any possible matches.

You know, those dull matches played out in front of no fans with results that make absolutely no sense…

Well, AFCON is a different world from that. Every match has a festive atmosphere.

Nearly a million fans attended all of the games in 2019, with more than 100 goals on display.

Combine die-hard fans with superstar players and you can be sure of a real treat.

Read ours Move blog News Live for the latest gossip, gossip and deals done

https://www.thesun.co.uk/sport/17249038/afcon-five-reasons-excited-free-tv-salah-mendy/ Five reasons to get excited about AFCON 2022, including top stars like Salah & Mendy on show and FREE UK viewing

Ashley

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