​The Africa Cup of Nations got underway on Friday evening, as hosts Egypt sealed a 1-0 win over Zimbabwe in the curtain-raiser in Cairo.

It's set to be one of the most competitive editions in the tournament's history, having been expanded to 24 teams for the very first time.

Here's a look at eight of the favourites to come away with the top prize in July.

8. Cameroon

Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting


Cameroon head into this year's tournament as the defending champions, but they aren't one of the outright favourites to lift the trophy again this time around. Despite their pedigree, the 'Indomitable Lions' lack experience in their ranks, with PSG's Eric Choupo-Moting being the most-capped player in the 23-man squad.

However, it must be noted that Cameroon weren't expected to succeed in 2017, so they'll still be ones to keep an eye on in Egypt.

Manager - Clarence Seedorf

Former Ajax, Real Madrid and Milan legend Clarence took over in August 2018, but it would be reasonable to suggest that his managerial career hasn't exactly taken off just yet. He has plenty to prove, so this could be a huge tournament for the Dutchman.

Star Player - Andre Onana


Andre Onana was in fine form for Ajax during their stunning 2018/19 campaign, putting in some impressive performances between the sticks. He's said to be on the radar of Manchester United, so he'll be keen to impress.

7. Tunisia



Plenty are overlooking Tunisia this year - partly because they lack any real recognisable stars - but they cannot be underestimated, having pipped Egypt in their qualifying group to get here.

They weren't all that impressive at the World Cup last year, but are well-organised and tough to break down, as England found out in their opening game in Russia. The absence of Mohamed Amine Ben Amor through injury comes as a huge blow, but don't be surprised to see them go far.

Manager - Alain Giresse

Former French international Alain Giresse took charge of Tunsia in December, so hasn't had too much time with the 'Eagles of Carthage'. He has plenty of experience in Africa though, having managed Gabon, Mali and Senegal.

Star Player - Wahbi Khazri


Wahbi Khazri enjoyed a stellar season in France with Saint-Etienne, scoring 13 goals to help his side to a fourth-place finish. 

He'll be Tunisia's main source of goals and his international experience will be vital.

6. Ivory Coast



Ivory Coast aren't quite the same team of years gone by, but they still have quality in abundance, particularly in the final third, with players plying their trade right across Europe all set to feature - including the likes of Wilfried Zaha, Franck Kessie and Nicolas Pepe.

That being said, this is a very inexperienced group without an identifiable leader in their midst, so they may initially struggle to gel together as a cohesive unit.

Manager - Ibrahim Kamara

Marc Wilmots was replaced by Ibrahim Kamara last summer, following on from Les Elephants' failure to qualify for the World Cup. Kamara has previously managed a host of Ivory Coast youth sides, so he's already worked with a number of his squad.

Star Man - Nicolas Pepe


Nicolas Pepe is being targeted by a host of top European teams this summer after he exploded onto the scene with Lille in 2018/19. 

Only Kylian Mbappe scored more goals than the 24-year-old on Ligue 1, so Ivory Coast will be dependent on his goals in Egypt.

5. Algeria



No one at this year's tournament has left behind as strong a list of individuals as Algeria, exemplifying how well equipped they are to succeed in Egypt.

They're a well-balanced squad, brimming with exciting attacking talents and, after their disappointing World Cup qualifying campaign, they have a point to prove - they just have to navigate a tricky looking group first.

Manager - Djamel Belmadi

Djamel Belmadi oversaw the final three games of Algeria's AFCON qualifiers, inspiring two wins to see them top the group ahead of Benin. His previous international experience was with Qatar.

Star Man - Riyad Mahrez

Riyad Mahrez

The Manchester City man hasn't enjoyed a glittering international career so far, so this will be a chance for him to prove himself. A special mention also goes to Bagdad Boundjah, who comes into the tournament ​off the back of a 39-goal season in Qatar.

4. Nigeria



Nigeria weren't consistently brilliant at the 2018 World Cup, but they showed plenty of signs of promise - particularly in their impressive win over Iceland.

They followed that up by breezing through their qualification group and they'll be hoping that their experience in Russia will help them deliver success this time around - just as they did back in 2013.

Manager - Gernot Rohr

Gernot Rohr has been in charge of Nigeria since 2016 and has previously managed four African sides at AFCON in the past. He's one of the most experienced managers in the tournament, so Nigeria are in safe hands.

Star Player - Alex Iwobi

Alex Iwobi

Nigeria have a number of talented wide players in their ranks, but Alex Iwobi has the most experience of playing at the highest level. He finished the season with a stunning substitute performance in the Europa League final, so he'll be hoping to carry that momentum through with him.

3. Egypt

Mohamed Salah,Marwan Mohsen


There is always going to be plenty of expectation on the shoulders of the hosts, but that gets amplified even further when they look to be one of the strongest contenders to come away with the top prize.

Of course, all the attention will be on ​Mohamed Salah, but Egypt have to shine all over the park if they are to stand a chance this year.

Manager - Javier Aguirre

Mexican coach Aguirre has managed right across the world during his managerial career, with varying degrees of success. One of his most recent tournaments was at the 2015 Asian Cup with Japan, where he was only able to guide them to the quarter-finals.

Star Player - Mohamed Salah


Surprise, surprise, it's Salah. You can be certain that the Liverpool forward will be at the heart of everything for Egypt and will be looking to exercise a few demons after he struggled to impress in Russia while nursing a shoulder injury.

2. Senegal



Senegal were the best-performing African side at the World Cup, missing out on knockout qualification only due to their inferior disciplinary record compared to Japan, so they'll be confident of achieving some success here.

They have plenty of top players in their ranks and made light work of qualification to AFCON, securing more points than any other team on their way to Egypt. 

Manager - Aliou Cisse

Former international Aliou Cisse has been in charge since 2015, so he's had plenty of time to piece together a formidable looking side. The 'Lions of Teranga' have seen an upturn in fortunes ever since he was appointed, so he must be getting something right.

Star Player - Sadio Mane

Sadio Mane

Sadio Mane is coming off the back of his best individual season at Liverpool, which is truly saying something when you consider how superb he has been for the Reds since making the move over from Southampton.

Senegal will be looking to him and Kalidou Koulibaly to lead them to success. 

1. Morocco



Morocco didn't really get the chance to show the world what they were all about at the 2018 World Cup, as they were lumped into a difficult group alongside Spain and Portugal.

Expect that to change this year, as Morocco look like the ones to beat. They boast a star-studded squad and have a manager at the helm who has been there and done it all before. Twice.

Manager - Herve Renard

Herve Renard is the only manager to have won AFCON with two different nations - Zambia and Ivory Coast. He has the pedigree, so Morocco couldn't wish for a better manager to guide them to success.

Star Player - Hakim Ziyech

Hakim Ziyech

A midfield talent who can do just about everything, Hakim Ziyech currently has the world at his feet. The Ajax star was central to their success in the Eredivisie and Champions League, so expect him to shine once again.