>> The 31st edition of the Africa Cup of Nations kicking off Saturday in Gabon. The host nation play Guinea-Bissau in the opening game at the Stade de l'Amitié. The Ivory Coast is seeking to defend their title, Egypt to bid to revive former glories, and tiny Guinea-Bissau aim to continue their fairy tale run.
Reuters sports reporter Adam Reed says fans will be looking out for the big players from European teams.>> From the host nation, you've got Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. For the past couple of seasons, he's done remarkable things at Borussia Dortmund and he's having another fine season. Sadio Mané has had a great first season for Liverpool.
He's been their top scorer. And he's gonna be a big loss to Jürgen Klopp's side, but a big boost for Senegal. They haven't really done too much in these tournaments since coming to everyone's attention in 2002. And now he's having such a good season. And looks like he could be the person to springboard them back into prominence, particularly in African football.
Another one to look out for is Riyad Mahrez from Algeria. He was the African Player of the Year.>> 16 teams are playing at four venues across four host cities in the oil-rich Central African country. But what's supposed to be a celebration of African soccer could be overshadowed by civil unrest.
Last August, President Ali Bongo retained power amid allegations of widespread fraud. The vote divided the political class in the country, leading to a wave of riots. There's a possibility of more protests around the tournament. And for Africa these games are important.>> We need to make sure that African football is to be seen to be evolving as fast as, say, European tournaments.
In the past there's been scheduling issues, there's been training facility issues and also in amongst the federations themselves. The players haven't always been paid for their time, and having to go into games where the tournaments started where it's not necessarily under the best conditions.>> Organizers promised that security is up to standards.
The government will be hoping that with the football underway, that's all people are talking about.