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How Africa Cup of Nations works

The 24 qualifiers have been seeded according to the world rankings and divided into six groups of four

The Africa Cup of Nations trophy. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - The 2019 Africa Cup of Nations kicks off on Friday in Egypt and this is how the competition works:

FIRST ROUND

-- The 24 qualifiers have been seeded according to the world rankings and divided into six groups of four

-- Each team plays the other three in its group once with three points awarded for a win, one for a draw and none for a loss

-- The winners and runners-up in each group and the best four third-place teams -- a total of 16 -- qualify for the second round

-- If teams finish level on points, the following tiebreakers will apply to decide placings:

  1. Points in head-to-head matches among tied teams

  2. Goal difference in head-to-head matches among tied teams

  3. Goals scored in head-to-head matches among tied teams

If more than two teams are tied, and after applying all the head-to-head criteria, a subset of teams are still tied, all head-to-head criteria above are reapplied exclusively to this subset of teams

  1. Goal difference in all group matches

  2. Goals scored in all group matches

  3. Drawing lots

KNOCKOUT ROUNDS

-- This phase consists of eight second-round matches, quarter-finals, semi-finals, a third-place play-off and the final

-- Teams drawing after 90 minutes play 30 minutes extra-time and if they are still level, a penalty shootout will decide the winners

-- The VAR (video assistant referee) system will be used from the quarter-finals onwards.

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