Patrice Motsepe, president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), has called for an immediate investigation into an incident at Olembe Stadium that resulted in the deaths of eight people, while he confirmed upcoming Africa Cup of Nations matches would be relocated.

Eight people died and a further 38 were injured after a stampede outside the stadium in Yaounde during Monday's match between tournament hosts Cameroon and Comoros.

CAF has started an investigation, while FIFA offered its condolences in a briefing on Tuesday.

In a media briefing, CAF president Motsepe confirmed the quarter-final tie due to be hosted at Olembe Stadium on Sunday, which will take place between the winner of Ivory Coast's clash with Egypt and the victor of Morocco v Malawi, would be moved to Yaounde's Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium.

"I've been given lots of feedback and had lots of discussions until very early this morning," Motsepe said on Tuesday.

"The first thing that I’m going to ask the organising committees, the next match that's supposed to take place at the Olembe Stadium should not take place."

Motsepe also confirmed CAF had requested a report on the incident be completed by Friday.

"I spoke to the senior person in the government, and it's correct out of respect for our partners, to indicate that there must be an immediate committee set up to investigate what happened," he said.

"In that context, to find out who was supposed to do what and who did not perform their responsibilities.

"We want that report by Friday but as I said the game that is scheduled for Olembe Stadium on Sunday is not going to take place and it’s going to take place at Amadou. There will be other changes that will be made."

One of those other changes is reportedly moving Sunday's other quarter-final from Douala to Limbe.

A media release attributed to the Cameroon team was released on Tuesday, bearing the name of captain Vincent Aboubakar, was retweeted by the Cameroonian Football Federation (FECAFOOT) and appeared to question the behaviour of supporters in a statement that has received widespread criticism.

A statement attributed to the Cameroon national team has urged fans to remain "highly disciplined and responsible" after eight fans died in a stampede outside the Olembe Stadium during the match against Comoros.

Reports began circulating of a disturbance outside the ground as hosts Cameroon claimed a 2-1 last-16 win in the Africa Cup of Nations on Monday, with local media and the Associated Press suggesting at the time that several people had been killed.

Cameroon's Ministry of Communications then confirmed overnight that, after a "first assessment", eight people had lost their lives in the crush.

Another 38 people were injured, with seven of those in a serious condition.

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has started an investigation, while FIFA offered its condolences in a briefing on Tuesday.

A media release attributed to the Cameroon team, bearing the name of captain Vincent Aboubakar, was retweeted by the Cameroonian Football Federation (FECAFOOT) and appeared to question the behaviour of supporters in a statement that has received widespread criticism.

"The Indomitable Lions and their entire staff deeply wail about the tragic incident that occurred at the Olembe Stadium on Monday, January 24, during the Cameroon vs Comoros match," the statement read.

"To the families of the victims, they extend their heart-felt condolences and wish a speedy recovery to the injured.

"The Indomitable Lions urge the football fans in Cameroon and Africa to be highly disciplined and responsible within and outside the stadiums so that football matches in general and the Africa Cup of Nations can remain festive moments.

"They also call for the preservation of security, brotherhood and shared happiness in the stadiums. On behalf of the Indomitable Lions, Vincent Aboubakar."

CAF has since announced the stadium will not be used for a quarter-final as initially planned following Monday's incident.

FIFA has sent its "deepest condolences" to the friends and families of the eight people who died in a stampede at the Olembe Stadium during Cameroon's Africa Cup of Nations win over Comoros.

Reports began circulating of a disturbance outside the ground as Cameroon claimed a 2-1 last-16 win on Monday, with local media and the Associated Press suggesting at the time that several people had been killed.

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) said it was aware of the incident and was gathering "more details" on what had transpired.

A statement released overnight by Cameroon's Ministry of Communications then confirmed that, after a "first assessment", eight people had lost their lives in the crush.

Another 38 people were injured, with seven of those in a serious condition.

The ministry did not immediately respond to Stats Perform's request for comment, but a widely reported statement read: "The Government of the Republic brings to the attention of the National and International Opinion that during the round-of-16 meeting which was played on Monday, January 24, 2022, between Indomitable Lions of Cameroon and the national team of the Union of Comoros, jostling occurred at the southern entrance to the Olembe Football Stadium.

"The first assessment of these jostling reports: eight dead; and 38 injured, including 31 light [injuries] and seven serious.

"The deceased were taken to the Yaounde Emergency Center for the appropriate formalities, and the injured were distributed to four health facilities in the city of Yaounde, where they were immediately taken care of, on very high instructions from the president of the republic, His Excellency Paul Biya."

World football's governing body expressed its sympathies with those affected by the tragedy soon after.

Its statement read: "FIFA sends its deepest condolences to the families and friends of the victims who lost their lives following the tragic incident that took place at Olembe Stadium during the Africa Cup of Nations fixture between Cameroon and Comoros.

"The thoughts and prayers of the global football community are with the victims, the ones who have been injured in this incident, and all the staff of both CAF and the Cameroonian Football Association (FECAFOOT) at this difficult moment."

CAF is attempting to gather information after a stampede during Cameroon's Africa Cup of Nations game against Comoros.

The incident took place at Olembe Stadium in Yaounde on Monday. No details of how many people were involved or how severely they were hurt were provided by CAF.

CAF's general secretary Veron Mosengo-Omba was sent to visit injured fans as the organisation attempts to gather more information on what occurred. 

The Associated Press reported multiple people had died.

A CAF statement read: "CAF is aware of the incident that took place at Olembe Stadium during the Africa Cup of Nations fixture between hosts Cameroon and Comoros tonight, 24 January 2022. 

"CAF is currently investigating the situation and trying to get more details on what transpired. We are in constant communication with Cameroon government and the Local Organizing Committee. 

"Tonight, the CAF president Dr Patrice Motsepe sent the General Secretary, Veron Mosengo-Omba to visit the supporters in hospital in Yaounde." 

Cameroon advanced to the quarter-finals by defeating 10-man Comoros 2-1. 

Comoros put in a tremendous performance despite being without a recognised goalkeeper and having 10 men for most of the game, as they succumbed to a narrow 2-1 loss to hosts Cameroon in the Africa Cup of Nations last 16. 

After booking their place in the knockouts with a famous win over Ghana, Comoros' fairytale quickly turned into a nightmare when a coronavirus outbreak in their camp left them without a keeper for the clash with Cameroon. 

Back-up option Ali Ahamada returned a negative result on Monday but was not authorised to play by CAF, meaning defender Chaker Alhadhur had to be deployed between the posts. 

The task facing Les Coelacantes was made even more daunting inside seven minutes when they lost their captain Nadjim Abdou, who was shown a straight red card after referee Bamlak Tessema Weyesa reviewed footage of his challenge on Moumi Ngamaleu.  

Cameroon struggled to test Alhadhur but finally broke through in the 29th minute when Karl Toko Ekambi dug out a shot that found the bottom-left corner.  

Andre Onana did well to keep out Ahmed Mogni and Mohamed Youssouf in quick succession as Comoros still showed plenty of adventure, with Alhadhur matching his counterpart by thwarting Vincent Aboubakar and Ngamaleu in a memorable double save after the restart.

Aboubakar sold Alhadhur a dummy to finally add to Cameroon's tally in the 70th minute, but Comoros rallied despite their numerical disadvantage and pulled one back through an incredible 35-yard free-kick from Youssouf M'Changama that sailed into the top-right corner. 

It was too little too late for Comoros, though, with their sensational maiden AFCON appearance brought to a harsh end, while Cameroon face Gambia next.

Comoros have been forced to name defender Chaker Alhadhur in goal for their Africa Cup of Nations last-16 clash with Cameroon.

The island nation are competing at their first AFCON and caused a major upset in getting out of the group stage, but their fairytale has swiftly turned into something of a nightmare.

An injury to first-choice goalkeeper Salim Ben Boina was followed up by back-ups Ali Ahamada and Moyadh Ousseini testing positive for COVID-19.

Comoros confirmed on Monday that Ahamada had returned a negative coronavirus test and rejoined the squad, sparking hope that Les Coelacantes might be able to face hosts Cameroon on something of a level playing field.

But reports soon began to emerge claiming the Confederation of African Football (CAF) was insisting Ahamada could not compete because he still needed to adhere to a five-day period of isolation.

CAF did not respond when contacted by Stats Perform, however Comoros' starting XI included Alhadhur as the team's starting goalkeeper, with the team's official Twitter account saying: "Following the decision of CAF not to authorize Ali Ahamada to play, it is Chaker Alhadhur who will be the goalkeeper of the team."

The 30-year-old, who represents French club Ajaccio, is nominally a left-back but will start arguably the biggest match of his career between the posts.

Cameroon were hot favourites to book a quarter-final place even before Comoros revealed they must field an outfield player in goal for Monday's Africa Cup of Nations last-16 clash.

Now hosts Cameroon must keep their focus in the unusual circumstances, while tournament debutants Comoros surely need a footballing miracle.

That is Monday's second knockout game, and it comes after a tussle between Guinea and Gambia in Bafoussam.

Guinea v Gambia (16:00 GMT)

Guinea will be without Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita for this one, after he picked up a second yellow card of the tournament late on in the defeat to Zimbabwe last time out.

The clash at Kouekong Stadium is one between teams that finished second in their respective groups, and Gambia will hope their good fortune holds after arguably riding their luck to reach this point.

Tom Saintfiet's Gambia side have outperformed their expected goals (xG) total, scoring three times from an xG of 2.0, while conceding just once despite an expected goals against (xGA) tally of 4.7. The 3.7 gap between xGA and actual goals conceded was the highest of all teams in the group stage.

Gambia faced the most shots of all teams (58) in the group stage, but remarkably they still kept two clean sheets, including when they pulled off a shock 1-0 win over Tunisia.

Guinea underperformed in their shooting, scoring only twice from an xG of 4.0 across their three group fixtures.

Gambia coach Saintfiet said ahead of the game: "We are not afraid as we have been together with the players for over three years, meaning we have cohesion and great team spirit."

One to watch: Amadou Diawara (Guinea)

Guinea are looking to win their first knock-out match at the Africa Cup of Nations at the sixth attempt, having lost all five of their previous such attempts. Roma midfielder Diawara should be a key figure in their efforts to come through this one, bringing his plentiful Serie A experience to bear.

 

Cameroon v Comoros (19:00 GMT)

Considering Cameroon were the top scorers in the group stage with seven goals, Comoros would have liked their first-choice goalkeeper fit for this one. Second choice would have been fine, third choice a salvageable situation. But instead they are all out of keepers, with Salim Ben Boina injured and both Moyadh Ousseini and Ali Ahamada testing positive for COVID-19.

The minnows will hope their chosen emergency keeper proves a revelation at Stade d'Olembe, but the prospects for Comoros appear bleak, despite them reaching the knockout stages with a shock 3-2 win over Ghana.

This will be the first Africa Cup of Nations encounter between Cameroon and Comoros, who on Saturday reported a total of 12 COVID cases in their camp.

Cameroon have reached at least the quarter-finals in eight of their last 10 Africa Cup of Nations appearances, although they have failed to do so in two of the previous three editions (group stage in 2015 and last-16 in 2019).

No doubt licking his lips at the prospect of facing Comoros will be Cameroon captain Vincent Aboubakar, top scorer in the tournament with five goals in the group stage. The last players to score more than five goals in a single edition of the Africa Cup of Nations were Egypt's Hossam Hassan and South Africa's Benni McCarthy (both 7) in 1998.

One to watch: The rookie goalkeeper

Whoever gets the gloves faces a daunting challenge. Cameroon attempted 35 shots in the group stage, more than any other side, and also tried 63 crosses (only Senegal and Egypt had more). Comoros shipped five goals in three games when they had a recognised goalkeeper, losing two of their three Group B games. They should be ripe for being picked off by the home team in Yaounde.

 

Comoros will take on Africa Cup of Nations hosts Cameroon in the last 16 with an outfield player in goal, it has been confirmed. 

After reaching the knockout stages by shocking Ghana 3-2 in their final group game, tournament debutants Comoros announced on Saturday they had returned 12 positive coronavirus tests in their camp. 

Among them were coach Amir Abdou and their only fit goalkeepers Moyadh Ousseini and Ali Ahamada, the latter of whom replaced the injured Salim Ben Boina in the first half against the Black Stars. 

With all three keepers unavailable for Monday's clash with Cameroon, assistant coach Jean-Daniel Padovani confirmed Comoros would have to take on the competition's leading goalscorers with an outfield player between the posts. 

"We've already chosen an outfield player who will start as keeper," said Padovani. "It's a player who in training has shown that he can play as a keeper." 

Comoros only have 12 players available for the game. Competition rules state if a squad is without a goalkeeper but still includes at least 11 fit players, another member of the team must go in goal.

Ghana were knocked out of the Africa Cup of Nations as they suffered a stunning 3-2 defeat to the Comoros.

Victory would have been enough for the Black Stars to progress as one of the best third-placed teams but a double from Ahmed Mogni gave the Comoros their first Africa Cup of Nations win in a Group C encounter that saw captain Andre Ayew sent off for the four-time champions.

The Comoros took a shock lead in the fourth minute as a quick break was finished off by El Fardou Ben Nabouhane with a confident strike into the bottom-right corner.

Ghana's problems deepened when Ayew was shown red as they pressed for an equaliser, the skipper deemed by VAR to have fouled goalkeeper Salim Ben Boina in an effort to prod home a rebound from Kamaldeen Sulemana's shot.

And the advantage of the extra man at the Comoros' disposal eventually told just after the hour as haphazard goalkeeping from Jojo Wollacott presented Mogni with the chance to double their advantage courtesy of an assured finish.

Richmond Boakye provided an instant response when he steered home a header from a right-wing corner and the turnaround looked to be on when Alexander Djiku tapped in a flick-on as the Comoros' defence failed to deal with the same set-piece with 13 minutes remaining.

A decisive fifth goal did arrive, but it was Mogni who had the final say as he was presented with a simple finish after excellent work down the right from Bendjaloud Youssouf to keep the minnows' hopes of qualification for the knockouts alive and condemn Ghana to a humiliating exit.

Three of the pre-tournament Africa Cup of Nations favourites conclude their group stage fixtures on Tuesday, though one of them is in a tricky situation.

Senegal are on track to qualify from Group B, while Morocco have so far handled the potentially difficult Group C rather well – the same cannot be said for Ghana.

Luckily for the Black Stars, they have arguably – on paper at least – their easiest game of the group stage to look forward to as they bid to avoid falling at the first hurdle for only the second time this century.

Malawi v Senegal (16:00 GMT)

Just by beating Zimbabwe 2-1 thanks to a brace from the excellent Gabadinho Mhango, Malawi have arguably already compounded expectations at this year's tournament.

That was only their second ever win at the AFCON and it ensured they go into Tuesday with a real chance of qualification, either automatically or as one of the four best third-placed teams.

But Senegal still have a lot to play for themselves, with Aliou Cisse's men tied on four points with Guinea.

While that could be enough to take them through anyway, failing to top this group will not be a good look for the team many considered favourites to lift the trophy.

One to watch: Gabadinho Mhango (Malawi)

While Senegal undoubtedly possess the stronger squad, Orlando Pirates striker Mhango really caught the eye last time out with a couple of well-taken goals. One more will make him Malawi's all-time top scorer in the AFCON.

 

Zimbabwe v Guinea (16:00 GMT)

A wonderful opportunity awaits Guinea here, with the Syli Nationale knowing they will win the group as long as they better Senegal's result.

Their 0-0 draw with the Teranga Lions was a decent outcome and means they are one of just three teams still to concede a goal – though goalkeeper Aly Keita's tournament-best record of 2.4 goals prevented may have something to do with that.

They face a Zimbabwe side with only pride to play for having lost each of their first two games, though the omens are not great for Guinea: the Warriors' only previous AFCON wins have been in their final group matches (in 2004 and 2006).

 

One to watch: Mohamed Bayo (Guinea)

Despite their chances being worth 2.98 in terms of expected goals (xG), Guinea have only netted once. That 1.98 non-penalty xG underperformance is the second-worst at the tournament. Bayo arrived in Cameroon in good form – they will hope he can inspire an improvement where it matters most.

 

Gabon v Morocco (19:00 GMT)

As one of only three teams to win both of their first two games this year, Morocco are already assured of a place in the next round – they just need to seal top spot now.

The Atlas Lions are already on their longest unbeaten run at the AFCON (six matches) since going 11 without defeat in the 1970s, and they also boast the best xG (5.3) and xGA (0.5) records of the teams to play twice, evidence of how effective they have been at both ends of the pitch.

But Gabon, who confirmed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mario Lemina have returned to their clubs for medical reasons, are aiming to go unbeaten in a second success group stage campaign for the first time, with a point likely good enough to send them through.

One to watch: Youssef En-Nesyri (Morocco)

It has been a frustrating season so far for Sevilla striker En-Nesyri, who has missed prolonged periods through injury and then saw his penalty saved against Comoros. His 25-minute cameo then was his first appearance in the tournament. With qualification already assured, they might opt to build up his fitness for the knockouts with a start against Gabon.

 

Ghana v Comoros (19:00 GMT)

Ghana were held to a 1-1 draw by Gabon last time out, a match that was marred by ugly scenes at full-time after a late equaliser denied them victory. It culminated in a red card for Benjamin Tetteh after he punched an opponent in the face.

Having also lost to Morocco on matchday one, Ghana now need a win to have any hope of progressing – even then, it may not be enough.

If Ghana do not win, it will be the first time they have ever failed to win a single group game in 22 appearances at the tournament.

It would also be their first failure to get out of the group since 2006. Much is at stake.

One to watch: Andre Ayew (Ghana)

While Ghana have some very talented young players in their squad, their qualification hopes are looking a little desperate – they need their experienced stars to take the lead here. Andre Ayew and his brother Jordan are obviously the focus here, given that nine (70 per cent) of Ghana's previous 13 AFCON goals have been scored by the siblings (Andre is on five, Jordan on four).

 

Morocco are through to the Africa Cup of Nations round of 16 after goals from Selim Amallah and Zakaria Aboukhlal secured a 2-0 win over Comoros on Friday.

Amallah opened the scoring in the first half at Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium and Aboukhlal added a second late on as the Atlas Lions made it two Group C wins out of two following a 1-0 victory over Ghana in their opening game, sealing their spot in the knockout stage.

Standard Liege midfielder Amallah showed great composure in the penalty area as he latched onto a loose ball after Ayoub El Kaabi's shot was blocked, before finishing with his right foot after 16 minutes.

Nayef Aguerd almost doubled Morocco's lead before the break when he met Sofiane Boufal's corner with a towering header, but rattled the crossbar.

Amallah shot wastefully wide following a terrible pass from goalkeeper Salim Ben Boina, who was in the thick of the action as he bundled Zakaria Aboukhlal over in the box, but saved the resulting penalty from Youssef En-Nesyri with seven minutes to go.

Ben Boina continued to keep a dominant Morocco at bay until Aboukhlal sidefooted home in the 89th minute, the VAR awarding the goal after he was initially ruled to be offside, as Comoros suffered a second defeat that leaves the AFCON debutants bottom of the group.

The Africa Cup of Nations group stage continues at pace on Friday, with four matches scheduled to take place.

Senegal, runners-up in 2019, face Guinea in Group B, with both teams having won their opening fixtures. Malawi and Zimbabwe take each other on in the other match in that group.

Meanwhile, Gabon are hoping to have Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang back for their clash with Ghana in Group C, while Morocco, winners against the Black Stars on matchday one, take on Comoros.

Senegal v Guinea (13:00 GMT)

Senegal and Guinea are meeting for the third time at the Africa Cup of Nations, with the former winning their first two encounters: 2-1 in the 1994 group stages and 3-2 in the 2006 quarter-finals.

In both matches, Guinea opened the scoring before eventually finishing as the losing side, and it is Senegal – led, of course, by Sadio Mane – who will be favourites on Friday, the Liverpool forward's 97th-minute penalty sealing an opening win against Zimbabwe.

Mane's fellow Red Naby Keita is Guinea's star man. He attempted more passes in the opposition half (26) than any of his team-mates in the 1-0 defeat of Malawi last time out and it was his precise ball that led to the only goal of the game.

Keita might have his work cut out against a Senegal midfield that will likely include Paris Saint-Germain's all-action Idrissa Gueye, the towering presence of Crystal Palace's Cheikhou Kouyate and Bayern Munich's versatile full-back Bouna Sarr, who had five attempts and played two key passes in the win over Zimbabwe.

One to watch: Sadio Mane

After his last-gasp winner on Monday, Mane has been directly involved in five of Senegal's past six AFCON goals, scoring four and providing one assist. Since his debut in the competition in January 2015, the former Southampton star has been directly involved in more goals than any other Senegal player.

 

Malawi v Zimbabwe (16:00)

After narrow defeats in their opening matches, Group B's other teams will be looking to bounce back knowing they could draw level with one of the pool's big sides with three points.

That being said, neither team exactly have a strong history in the competition. This will be the first encounter between the nations at an AFCON finals, with Malawi winning just one of their seven matches at the tournament (D1 L5).

Zimbabwe, meanwhile, are winless in their past seven AFCON matches (D2 L5), last claiming a victory in the competition in 2006, against Ghana (2-1).

It could be a case of an easily stoppable force meeting a highly movable object, however, with Malawi having failed to score in four of their past seven AFCON games, while Zimbabwe have never kept a clean sheet in 13 such matches, conceding 28 goals. No team has ever played more games in the competition without once keeping the ball out of their own net.

One to watch: Tino Kadewere (Zimbabwe)

Lyon forward Kadewere had to settle for a place on the bench in the first game, though he came on for the second half and had two attempts, which was bettered by only Knowledge Musona for Zimbabwe. In a squad shy of top-level European experience, Kadewere is undoubtedly the standout talent.

 

Morocco v Comoros (16:00)

After Senegal, Morocco are the second-best-ranked team at AFCON, currently placed 28th in the FIFA's world standings.

The Atlas Lions defeated Ghana in their opening Group C match and head into Friday's meeting with minnows Comoros as huge favourites, with Morocco looking to win their opening two matches at an AFCON in consecutive editions of the tournament, having only won both such games in one of their previous 16 appearances in the competition.

Comoros, who went down 1-0 to Gabon on Monday, will hope to avoid becoming the sixth AFCON debutants this century to lose their opening two matches, after Benin (2004), Botswana (2012), Burundi (2019), Niger (2012) and Zimbabwe (2004).

One to watch: Sofiane Boufal

Former Southampton midfielder Boufal scored an 83rd-minute winner against Ghana. No Moroccan player has netted in successive AFCON matches since Houssine Kharja in 2012.

 

Gabon v Ghana (19:00)

Friday's headline clash sees Gabon take on Ghana, and Aubameyang could well be back after he trained with his side following a negative coronavirus result.

Aubameyang, who has not played for Arsenal since early December and was recently stripped of the club captaincy due to a disciplinary breach, tested positive for COVID-19 upon his arrival for the AFCON, along with Mario Lemina.

Gabon will, however, be without coach Patrice Neveu, who is isolating. They are looking to win successive AFCON games for the first time since a run of three victories in 2012.

Four-time champions Ghana, meanwhile, have won just one of their past five group games (D2 L2), losing more in this run than in their previous 12 such matches combined (W9 D2 L1).

One to watch: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

There is no doubting Aubameyang's quality, even if the 32-year-old has been ostracised at Arsenal recently. Having been out of action for so long, it may take the former Borussia Dortmund star time to get up to speed, though he has the ability to be the difference-maker. 

Gabon ensured Comoros' Africa Cup of Nations finals debut was one to forget as they started their Group C campaign with a 1-0 win.

Aaron Boupendza's superb finish from a tight angle proved the difference in a game defined by otherwise wayward shooting.

Louis Ameka Autchanga slid Boupendza down the left flank and the Al-Arabi forward left Comoros goalkeeper Ali Ahamada stranded with a stunning strike.

Comoros dominated possession and had eight attempts to Gabon's seven as they attempted to find a way back into the contest.

But just one of those efforts hit the target, leaving them with an uphill climb to qualify from a group also featuring Morocco and Ghana.

Gabon could potentially book their place in the next stage with a win over Ghana on Friday.

The Africa Cup of Nations is in full swing following its big kick-off on Sunday, and Monday sees the action taken up a notch.

There will be twice as many games as Group B and Group C get under way, providing first opportunities to see two of the pre-tournament favourites: Morocco and Senegal.

But the shroud of COVID-19 lingers over practically every AFCON match at the moment, and it will be especially difficult to ignore its impact on games on Monday, with the likes of Senegal, Guinea, Malawi and Gabon all missing key players.

Senegal v Zimbabwe (13:00 GMT)

Senegal's second so-called 'golden generation' is running out of time.

They arrived in Cameroon with a stacked squad, but many of their key players are approaching 30 or are already there.

To make matters worse, coach Aliou Cisse is without a host of big players against Zimbabwe, a game he will be keen to just get out of the way.

"I was looking at the composition of our team," Cisse said. "Compared to our last match against Congo, I can already tell you we have six indisputable starting players who are not on the squad list: Edouard Mendy, Krepin Diatta, Ismaila Sarr, Nampalys Mendy, Kalidou Koulibaly and Saliou Ciss.

"Having six absent starting players, it's true that it's worrying."

One to watch: Sadio Mane (Senegal)

Senegal have one of the best squads – if not the very best – in the tournament, but they are going to rely on Mane to a certain degree, particularly given their COVID-19 absences. Thankfully he is exceptional both when it comes to sniffing out chances and creating them, with his 0.67 non-penalty expected goal involvements every 90 minutes being the fourth-best in the Premier League (min. 900 minutes played) this term.

 

Guinea v Malawi (16:00 GMT)

Both Guinea and Malawi have been among the sides struck by coronavirus ahead of this tournament, but the former should still fancy their chances on Monday against a team considered Group B's rank outsiders.

Anything but three points will be a major disappointment for Guinea on matchday one, and key player Naby Keita is not among those to be afflicted with COVID-19.

As such, coach Kaba Diawara is feeling confident.

"We have the ambition to go as far as possible in this competition, which is why I accepted this mission," Diawara told Africa Top Sports ahead of the tournament.

"It's clear that it is the results that will speak. We try to put things in place, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't."

One to watch: Mohamed Bayo (Guinea)

While Naby Keita may be the team's most-recognisable star, expectations on Bayo are significant given he heads into the tournament with nine Ligue 1 goals to his name with Clermont this season, 45 per cent of their total output, and only one was a penalty. Only Jonathan David (12) and Wissam Ben Yedder and Ludovic Ajorque (both 10) have scored more in the French top flight so far.

 

Morocco v Ghana (16:00 GMT)

After Senegal (60.9 per cent), Morocco are the likeliest to finish top of a group at the AFCON (52.6 per cent), according to Stats Perform analysis. This speaks to the quality in the side assembled by Vahid Halilhodzic.

Even without Chelsea star Hakim Ziyech, who has been exiled, Morocco boast some fine players and will be expected to go deep into the competition – not that coach Halilhodzic is taking anything for granted.

"We have to prepare well to face the three teams in the group: Ghana, Gabon, and the Comoros," the Bosnian told reporters.

"Although Morocco are favourites to reach the second round, we have to prepare well and play with a lot of ambition and determination to go as far as possible."

One to watch: Yassine Bounou (Morocco)

This is likely to be Morocco's biggest challenge in the group stage, so they will want to be solid at the back. Bounou should help them in that respect – the Sevilla goalkeeper's 25 clean sheets in all competitions in 2021 was a total bettered only by Ederson (26) and Edouard Mendy (27) across the top five leagues in Europe.

 

Comoros v Gabon (19:00 GMT)

Comoros' Group C opener will be a momentous game as they play in a major international tournament for the first time.

Making a splash will be tough, but coach Amir Abdou is adamant they are more than worthy of their place in Cameroon.

 

He told Africa Foot United: "We haven't qualified by chance. We therefore don't think that we will let the opportunity to go as far as possible slip away.

"We will fight with our weapons with our various opponents, as tough as they are."

 

One to watch: Denis Bouanga (Gabon)

Gabon are likely to be without two of their most experienced players in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mario Lemina due to coronavirus, meaning others will need to step up. Bouanga will probably be among those expected to take on greater responsibility. The gifted Saint-Etienne left-winger is a good dribbler and takes a lot of shots, his 3.4 attempts per 90 minutes being the fifth-most in Ligue 1 this season (min. 900 minutes played).

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