With 2016 coming to a close, we take a look at the new year. Odd number years are not very well known for big football tournaments as major competitions such as the UEFA Euros and the FIFA World Cup take place in four year intervals, on even numbered years. But 2017 should not be brushed aside, with 4 exciting football competitions to watch in the upcoming year.
CAF African Cup of Nations
Host Nation: Gabon
Dates: January 14 - February 5
The African Cup of Nations is always an exciting tournament. With talent steadily flowing from the continent for the past two decades, this competition serves as both a stage to crown Africa's best and as a showcase for top club scouts from around the world. But there are also a few things that make this specific tournament a little more special than the last few. The most successful nation in the cup's history - Egypt - is returning to the tournament after having been unable to qualify to the last three editions. Also, host nation Gabon will welcome the tournament for the second time, first as the sole host nation however, after sharing the duties with Equatorial Guinea in 2012.
The 2017 African Cup of Nations will miss a few big sides however, with Angola and previous winners Zambia and Nigeria missing out in qualifications. Nonetheless, nations such as Ivory Coast, Algeria and Ghana should make this tournament a great football start to the new year.
FIFA U-20 World Cup
Host Nation: South Korea
Dates: May 20 - June 11
You don't have to look too far to the past to see the talent that the under 20 FIFA World Cup showcases in its tournaments. Nearly ten years ago, we here at FootyFair were lucky to attend the tournament hosted in our own backyard and watching the likes of young Alexis Sánchez, Arturo Vidal, Luis Suárez, Juan Mata and Chicharito (just to name a few) was pretty incredible. This coming year in South Korea should be no different with some of the world's biggest footballing nations having already qualified for the tournament, and with a few still waiting to book their place.
FIFA Confederations Cup
Host Nation: Russia
Dates: June 17 - July 2
The "warm-up" to the FIFA World Cup, the Confederation Cup is always a great way to explore what the future host nation of the biggest tournament in the world will have to offer. Germany, Chile and Portugal will highlight the competition which is made up of 8 teams, while the most successful team in the history of the tournament - Brazil - will not participate this time around.
CONCACAF Gold Cup
Host Nation: USA?
Dates: July 7-26
If you're one of our readers from Europe, Asia or South America there's a pretty good chance that you couldn't care less about this particular tournament. But for us here in North America the Gold Cup is always a fantastic opportunity to watch our nations compete to see if any could defeat Mexico to the CONCACAF title (that's kind of basically the goal). Indeed, what makes this tournament so interesting is the very fact that the Mexican national team has dominated the continent and this very tournament and even the US who have captured the Gold Cup on 5 occasions, still seem as underdogs to win the tournament in most years.
The host for the 2017 Gold Cup has not been named yet, but if the past is anything to go by, the United States will be the likeliest location once again.