The sixth edition of the TOTAL Africa Nations Championship (CHAN) kicked off in Cameroon on Saturday with a colourful opening ceremony in the capital of Yaounde.
A huge cultural display with dancers dressed in Cameroonian national colours marked the start of the competition, held in Central African country for the first time.
The inauguration of the competition, designed only for home-based players, was attended by Cameroon Prime Minister Joseph Ngute, FIFA President Gianni Infantino and his CAF counterpart, Constant Omari and former CAF leader Issa Hayatou.
It was the first time the newly-installed CAF honorary president had been seen in a continental match since his reign as Africa’s football chief ended about four years ago.
The Cameroon National Ballet led performances at the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium in the impressive 30-minute show tinged with local tradition and African culture.
The pitch was decked out in a massive colourful African cloth with dancers thumping the floor in various dress cultures of the country amid huge fireworks display.
MTV award winning rapper Stanley Enow performed to the excitement of the socially-distanced, mask-wearing fans at the stadium.
Singer Jane Mary Ihims also gave an exhilarating rendition of ‘We are all champions’ ditty which is the official song of the tournament.
Sixteen countries will be fighting for the title and have been drawn into four groups with four teams in each group.
The exciting performances paved the way for the opening match of the tournament between Cameroon and Zimbabwe in Group A.
The top two sides from each group will progress to the knock-out stage of the competition.
The competition will be played in the cities of Yaounde and Limbe while Douala will host two groups at Japoma Stadium and Stade de la Reunification. The tournament will start on 16th January and end on 7th February.
The competition was initially set to be held in April 2020 but was postponed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. It is Africa’s major football event since the outbreak of the deadly disease.