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African Nations Championship 2018 explained - and why no top Premier League players are taking part; The fifth edition of the competition was celebrated with a Google Doodle but there won't be any top Premier League stars involved.

Byline: Aaron Flanagan

Internet browsers will have spotted a unique newGoogle Doodleon Saturday morning - and it's advertising football.

The artwork, which appears in place of the traditional search engine logo, is celebrating the start of the African Nations Championship.

Sixteen nations from around the continent head to Morocco over the next two weeks to compete for African football's secondary title.

However, the reigning champions, DR Congo, will not be there after bowing out in qualifying.

But what is the African Nations Cup? And why will no Premier League players be flying out to take part in the competition? Here's all you need to know...

Introduced in 2009, the African Nations Championship (CHAN) is a second class competition for teams in the continent of Africa.

However, teams are only allowed to field players who are currently playing for a club team in their own domestic leagues, meaning Premier League stars - and those across Europe - will not be allowed to be selected.

Such is the level of rotation in the squads compared to other major championships, only nine of the 16 competing nations are led by their regular national team head coach.

Morocco and Nigeria are the only nations to also be competing in this summer's World Cup finals, so it's a chance for their lesser stars to impress ahead of the squad selection.

Unfortunately, the competition will not be shown on British television.

Group A: Morocco, Mauritania, Guinea, Sudan

Group B: Uganda, Ivory Coast, Namibia, Zambia

Group C: Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Libya, Rwanda

Group D: Cameroon, Congo, Angola, Burkina Faso

Odds are not available for the tournament at this stage, but Libya were the highest-seeded team for the draw.

They were followed by Ivory Coast, Angola, Nigeria, Guinea and Cameroon.

2009 - DR Congo (beat Ghana 2-0 in final)

2011 - Tunisia (beat Angola 3-0 in final)

2014 - Libya (beat Ghana 4-3 on pens after 0-0 draw in final)

2016 - DR Congo (beat Mali 3-0 in final)

Should a European version of this competition be started?

CAPTION(S):

Credit: AFP

DR Congo celebrate winning the African Nations Cup in 2016

Credit: AFP

DR Congo celebrate victory as they arrive home in 2016

Credit: Getty Images Europe

Morocco's Achraf Bencharki is one of the players desperate to make the World Cup

Credit: Icon Sport

Nigeria will be led by their senior squad's assistant head coach, Yusuf Salisu

Credit: AFP

Rigobert Song is leading the Cameroon team into the competition

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Title Annotation:Sport,Football,News
Publication:Daily Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:6ZAIR
Date:Jan 13, 2018
Words:405
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