Photo taken on April 12, 2019 shows the 2019 CAF African Cup of Nations draw ceremony at the Giza Pyramids Necropolis, Cairo, Egypt. (Xinhua/Ahmed Gomaa)
CAIRO, April 12 (Xinhua) -- The group stages draws of 2019 African Cup of Nations Finals were conducted Friday at a glamorous ceremony at the historical Giza Pyramids.
In Group A, hosts Egypt will face the Leopards of the DR Congo, the Cranes of Uganda and the Warriors of Zimbabwe.
Egypt-Zimbabwe will be the opening match of the Total AFCON 2019, which will kick off on June 21.
In Group B, the Nigerian Super Eagles will face the National Sily of Guinea, Burundi and Madagascar; two teams that qualified for the first time at this AFCON.
Senegal will play in Group C against Tanzania, Kenya and the Algerian Fennecs, while Group D included Morocco, Cote d'Ivoire, South Africa, and Namibia.
In Group E, Tunisia will face the Mali Eagles and the Mauritania Muribitoun, for whom this is their first participation in the AFCON, and Angola.
The Cameroonian defending champion will face the Black Stars of Ghana, Benin and Guinea Bissau.
In January, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) announced that Egypt will host Africa's largest continental football tournament for the fifth time in its history.
The tournament was initially scheduled to be hosted by Cameroon. However, Cameroon was stripped of the right to host the tournament for serious delay in preparations.
Egypt has won the right to host the tournament over its sole rival South Africa, as it obtained 16 out of 18 votes in favor.
Egypt hosted four African Cup of Nations' tournaments in 1957, 1974, 1986 and 2006 respectively and has won the title for seven times.
This year's edition has seen major innovations, with the tournament expanded to 24 teams from 16, and moved to a summer schedule instead of its former calendar date of January-February to avoid club-versus-country clashes.
On Tuesday, the Egyptian Football Association (EFA) announced that the six stadiums which will host the 24-team tournament have been shut for renovations.
Before Egypt was elected as the host country, there had been worries that votes will not be in favor of the North Africans since it has witnessed fragile security conditions over the past few year.
However, Egyptians believe their success to host the tournament is historic and an international recognition that Egypt is safe.
"It is a historical moment, Egypt is hosting the AFCON. This is a strong message that Egypt is safe and we have the capabilities to host such big tournaments," member of the Egyptian Football Association (EFA), Magdi Abdel Ghani, told Xinhua during the ceremony.
The former Egyptian footballer said Egypt is ready with all its facilities to host the AFCON, adding that has country has a great infrastructure and experience to organize the biggest African soccer event.
Idriss Akki, President of French giant Lagardere Sports' football business in Africa, said he is very proud of the great organization of the AFCON Draw ceremony, expecting the tournament will be a successful event.