The Bafana Bafana squad were welcomed by Egyptian officials and staff from the South African embassy in Cairo on Tuesday. Photo: @BafanaBafana/Twitter

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

Agence France-Presse (AFP)