CAIRO, Egypt, Apr 11 – Preparations are almost complete for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations draw set to be conducted in Cairo, Egypt on Friday evening in Giza, in front of the famous Egyptian Pyramids.
On Thursday evening, workers at the venue were putting up the final touches on a beautiful venue ahead of the draw to pool the 24 participating teams.
Heads of various Federations have already arrived in Cairo with the coaches and Team Managers having come earlier for yesterday’s workshops.
This will be the first time ever that the Cup of Nations is held in the middle of the year after being moved from the traditional January/February dates while it will also be the first time involving 24 teams after the expansion from 16.
Coaches are looking forward to Friday’s draw with each eager to know who they will land in the first expanded edition of the tournament.
“We are looking forward to the draw and it will be an interesting tournament because if you win, you have to work hard compared to the other editions. But we are ready for anyone, a draw is a draw. Every team is tough and you can’t select who you want to face,” Ghana’s Kwesi Appiah who led the Black Stars to a top spot finish in qualification ahead of Kenya told Capital Sport.
Neighbors Uganda will be led by Sebastien Desabre for the tournament with the tactician being in the tournament for his first time ever.
The Frenchman is eagerly awaiting to know who Uganda faces as they seek to perform better than 2017 when they failed to make past the group stages.
“For us we are not the favorites but we are here to make our presence felt. We are ready for anyone and we won’t choose who we will face,” Desabre, a close friend to Kenya’s Sebastien Migne said.
Madagascar will be making their first ever appearance at the tournament. Also coached by a Frenchman, Nicolas Dupuis who has formed close acquaintance with Desabre and Migne, the debutants are looking to perform well in their first appearance.
“First we are excited to be here and our aim is to do well. This is our first time and we can’t wait to get started,” the Frenchman stated.
Cameroon who are under the tutelage of Dutch legend Clarence Seerdoff will be looking to successfully defend the crown after the tournament was taken away from them due to ill preparedness while Egypt who are the home side are looking to clinch it after losing the final last season.
Morocco under the tutelage of Herve Renard are also looking to make their World Cup experience count by battling for the crown they last won in 1976.
-Timothy Olobulu is reporting from Cairo, Egypt-