By Muhammed Enes Calli
ANKARA (AA) – The 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, the continent's most important football tournament, will start on Friday.
For the opening game, host country Egypt will face Zimbabwe in Cairo.
The 32nd AFCON tournament will be held in Egypt — its fifth time acting as host — from June 21 to July 19.
The tournament will be played in six stadiums.
This year, in a major expansion, the competition has expanded from 16 participating teams to 24.
– All eyes on Liverpool star Salah
Liverpool star Mohamed Salah will be the key player for Egypt. The country is one of the favorite teams in the tournament.
Senegalese forward Sadio Mane — Salah's teammate from Liverpool — and Algerian forward Riyad Mahrez from Manchester City are among the other star players of Egypt 2019.
– Egypt: Most successful team in Africa Cup
Egypt is hoping to capture their 8th AFCON cup, after last winning it in 2010.
The top two nations from six groups and the four best third-place nations will qualify for the round of 16.
– Egypt 2019 groups are as follows:
Group A: Egypt, Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Zimbabwe
Group B: Nigeria, Guinea, Madagascar, and Burundi
Group C: Senegal, Algeria, Kenya, and Tanzania
Group D: Morocco, Ivory Coast, South Africa, and Namibia
Group E: Tunisia, Mali, Mauritania, and Angola
Group F: Cameroon, Ghana, Benin, and Guinea-Bissau
– Stars from Turkish teams to play in Egypt 2019
Several players from Turkey’s Istanbul powerhouses Galatasaray and Fenerbahce are taking part in the contest.
Christian Luyindama (Democratic Republic of Congo), Mbaye Diagne (Senegal), Sofiane Feghouli (Algeria), and Younes Belhanda (Morocco) from Galatasaray were all called up for national duty.
Nabil Dirar — a Fenerbahce winger — will play for Morocco in the Africa Cup of Nations.