The 2019 AFCON tournament is finally here with us, only hours remain before hosts Egypt get the ball rolling against Zimbabwe in the opening match set for Friday 21 June at the Cairo International Stadium from 11PM CAT.
For the first time in the continental tournament’s history, 24 nations will compete to be crowned African champion.
The expansion means more players get the chance to represent their nations at the biggest stage in the continent, this year’s tournament will see a total of 552 players.
Of the 552, 193 ply their trade within Africa with the rest spread out across Europe, North America, Australia and Asia.
Hosts Egypt, who are planning on winning a record eighth AFCON title, have a total of 15 players out of their 23-man squad who play their football in the country. A huge number it is but it isn’t the most by a single nation, with 1996 champions South Africa having included 17 players from Mzansi.
S.A is also the most represented nation with a total of 41 players who will be in action in Egypt playing their club football in Africa’s largest producer of gold.
Of all the 24 nations at this year’s tournament, only three have assembled squads purely of players playing outside the continent, they are defending champions Cameroon, tournament favourites Senegal and Guinea.
Kenya, who are making a return back to the continental stage after a 15 year hiatus have 11 players from Africa in the squad with nine of them coming from the KPL.
Tanzania, who are returning after 39 years out in the cold, have 14 local based players, Uganda have four and Burundi, making their first appearance at this stage, have just one player who plays in Burundi.
In terms of club representation, Zamalek, Esperance, Mamelodi Sundowns, Kaiser Chiefs, Simba SC and TP Mazembe lead the way with six players each in Egypt.
Kenya’s very own Sofapaka, has five players in Egypt, three in the Burundi squad and two in Harambee Stars.
Al Ahly too are represented by five players , same as South Africa’s Bidvest Wits and Egypt’s Pyramids FC.
Gor Mahia have four, one in the Burundian squad and three with Harambee Stars.
Tanzania’s Yanga also has four players, same as Orlando Pirates.