AFCON 2023 Preview: Teams, Predictions, and Favourites to Win


THE 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) kicks off on the 13th of January, 2024, and concludes on February 11, 2024, with Ivory Coast playing host. The 34th edition of this prestigious continental tournament has the hosts facing off against Guinea-Bissau in the opening match in what is expected to be one of the most openly contested AFCON tournaments in recent times. 

AFCON 2023 preview: squads, predictions

We will see 24 national teams take part  looking to get their hands on the prestigious trophy.

Zimbabwe miss out on this edition of the tournament after having been banned from participating in all FIFA games. 

The global governing body had suspended Zimbabwe in February 2022 due to government interference in the sport, when the Zimbabwe Government's Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) suspended ZIFA because of financial irregularities and allegations of sexual harassment of female referees by technical staff. 

Consequently, the team missed out on playing in the African Cup of Nations preliminaries in 2023.

AFCON 2023 Group Dynamics

24 teams will participate in the tournament, distributed across six enthralling groups as follows:

Group A: Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau.

Group B: Egypt, Ghana, Cape Verde, Mozambique.

Group C: Senegal, Cameroon, Guinea, Gambia.

Group D: Algeria, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Angola.

Group E: Tunisia, Mali, South Africa, Namibia.

Group F: Morocco, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia, Tanzania.

Group of DeathDefending champions Senegal face a daunting journey in the "group of death" alongside 5 time winners Cameroon, Guinea making their 13th TotalEnergies African Cup of Nations appearance, and a tricky Gambia.

Predictions: Favorites Tipped to Win

1. Senegal (Defending Champions)

Manager: Aliou Cisse

Best Player: Sadio Mane

Best AFCON finish: Winners (2021)

2021 AFCON finish: Winners

It just shows that if you work hard, if you persevere, you will get what you want, I am very emotional because the people of Senegal have wanted this trophy for 60 years.

These were the words of Aliou Cisse after he guided Senegal to their first ever AFCON trophy in 2021 and he will definitely try to replicate his fortunes from the previous tournament.

Cisse will be leading a star studded Senegal that makes them favourites to lift the trophy in 2024 and become the first side to win back-to-back tournaments since Egypt in 2008 and 2010. 

The Lions of Teranga boast of top quality players like Mané, Kalidou Koulibaly as well as Premier League stars Nico Jackson, Totenham's Pape Matar Sarr and Idrissa Gana Gueye.

2. Morocco 

Manager: Walid Regragui

Best Player: Achraf Hakimi

Best AFCON finish: Winners (1976)

2021 AFCON finish: Last 16

After an incredible World Cup campaign in 2022 that saw Morocco become the first ever African nation to reach a World Cup semi-final, expectations are the Atlas Lions led by Walid Regragui can go one step further, replicate their World Cup form and win the Continental showcase. 

Morocco however do not have a particularly decent AFCON record recently having not gone past the quarter-final stage since  2004 when they finished runners-up to winners Tunisia. 

Drawn in a group with DR Congo, Zambia and Tanzania, they should have problem winning Group F.

3. Côte d’Ivoire/Ivory Coast

Manager: Jean-Louis Gasset

Best Player: Ousmane Diomande 

Best AFCON finish: Winners (1992, 2015)

2021 AFCON finish: Last 16

Having not gone past the quarter-final stage since winning the competition in 2015, Ivory Coast will be hoping home advantage can help them as they look to become the first host nation to win the tournament since Egypt in 2006. 

Unbeaten in the group stages during the last tournament and playing the best football of the tournament, the expectation was for them to go win the tournament but disappointingly failed to beat Egypt and lost in a penalty shootout.

Other contenders 

Algeria, Egypt and Tunisia are the other nations tipped to win the Africa Cup of Nations 2023 in what will be an explosive and exhilarating tournament.

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