Following a year with thrilling years and humiliating lows for African sport in 2018, the continent will be looking forward to capitalising on gains made for the year ahead.
With at least five World Cups lined up in 2019, many in Africa will be rooting for major silverware, and the global glory that has often eluded African national teams.
In this article, we highlight the major sporting events that are likely to dominate headlines in 2019.
The Confederation of African Football CAF will celebrate the best footballers on the continent, male and female, at a glamorous event in Dakar, Senegal, on January 8. Some of the awards to be handed out include African Player of the Year, Coach of the year and National Team of the Year.
The Australian Open will also take place in the city of Melbourne, from January 14, to January 27.
February will be a relatively quiet month, but fans of American Football can look forward to the Super Bowl, which will take place on February 3, in the city of Atlanta, Georgia. The much anticipated championship game will determine the winner of the 2018 National Football League season.
Media reports say US pop band group, Maroon 5 will headline the game’s famous halftime show but the NFL is yet to confirm this news.
March will be a thrilling month for Formula One fans, who will catch action at the Australian Grand Prix on 17 March, before climaxing the month at the Bahrain Grand Prix on 31 March.
The reigning world heavyweight champion, Anthony Joshua, will face his next opponent at the Wembley Stadium on April 13. The British fighter, with Nigerian roots, is hoping to face American Deontay Wilder, who is the reigning WBC Champion.
AJ as Joshua is fondly referred to by his fans, is the unified heavyweight champoion, holding the IBF, IBO, WBO and WBA belts.
Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge will also get the opportunity to defend his London Marathon win, on April 28.
The 2019 Cricket World Cup, hosted by England and Wales, will kick off on 30 May, and run until 14 July. South Africa are Africa’s solo representatives, and we wish them all the best. Bring it home, boys!
The European football season also ends in May and the champions of several leagues including the English, French, Italian, Spanish, German, Dutch and UEFA Champions League will be known by this time.
The UEFA Europa League Final will be held at the Baku Olympic Stadium, Baku, Azerbaijan, on May 29, while the Champions League final will be held on June 1, at the Estadio Metropolitano, in Madrid, Spain.
The CAF Champions League final, will also be held on June 1.
The historic African Nations Cup, featuring 24 teams and being held in June rather than January, for the first time, will kick off on 15 June, and go all the way to 13th July. While the host of the continent’s biggest football tournament is yet to be determined, one of the biggest highlights will be the debut appearances of Madagascar and Mauritania at the tournament.
The finals of the newly created UEFA Nations League will be held between 5 and 9 June, in Portugal. Portugal take on Switzerland in one semi-final, while Netherlands take on England in the other.ALSO READ: The good, bad and ugly of African sport in 2018
July will be the month of women as it will feature two World Cups, celebrating the best female talent, in football and netball.
The Women’s Football World Cup, hosted in France, which will have started on 7th June will crown a winner on 7th July. Africa will be represented at this tournament by Nigeria’s Super Falcons, South Africa’s Banyana Banyana and Cameroon’s Indomitable Lionesses.
England will host the Netball World Cup, from July 12 to July 21. Africa’s hopes of winning the tournament will be carried by Malawi’s Queens, Uganda’s She Cranes and Zimbabwe.
The CAF Super Cup, which features the winner of the elite CAF Champions League and the second-tier Confederation Cup, will be played between the 16, 17 or 18 August 2019. Hosted in Qatar, the 2019 Super Cup will the first to be played in August, but also most historically, it will be the first time that African teams are going to play a competitive fixture outside the continent.
The FIBA Basketball World Cup, hosted by China, which will have began on August 31, will crown a champion on September 15. Angola, Nigeria and Tunisia have already qualified for the tournament. The last two slots for Africa’s representatives will be determined in February 2019.
October is officially Athletics month, featuring the The IAAF World Athletics Championships and All Africa Games. Doha, Qatar will host the World Championship from 27 September to 06 October, while Casablanca, Morocco will host the All Africa Games from 14 October to 31 October.
Japan will host the Rugby World Cup, from 20 September to 2 November. Africa will be represented by South Africa and Namibia. This will be the first time for the tournament to be hosted in Asia.
December is awards season, and traditionally features several events celebrating the best athletes and sports personalities of the year, including the IAAF Athletics Awards and the coveted Ballon d’Or award that names the best footballers in the world each year.
Hopefully, Africa’s gallant sons and daughters will have done enough to sweep all the available accolades.@danmumbere