By: Rania Elhilali
The 2023 Africa Cup of Nations is right around the corner and is set to take place in Ivory Coast. The tournament was originally set to take place in the summer of 2023 but was moved to between Jan. 13th and Feb. 11, 2024.
The tournament matches will unfold in 6 different stadiums across Ivory Coast:
Alassane Ouattara Stadium, Abidjan (Capacity 60,000)
Felix Houphouet-Boigny Stadium, Abidjan (Capacity 33,00)
Charles Konan Banny Stadium, Yamoussoukro (Capacity 20,000)
Stade de la Paix, Bouake (Capacity 40,000)
Amadou Gon Coulibaly Stadium, Korhogo (Capacity 20,000)
Laurent Pokou Stadium, San Pedro (Capacity 20,000)
This tournament will see 24 four countries battling it out in a confirmed 52-match total. The countries have been split into six groups of four from Group A to Group F.
The groups are as follows:
Group A: Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Nigeria
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, DR Congo, Zambia, Tanzania
After the group stages, the tournament is similar to most international football competitions, with a Round of 16 and so forth. Here is the schedule:
January 13th to January 24th – Group Stages
January 27th to January 30th – Round of 16
February 2nd to February 3rd – Quarter Finals
February 7th – Semifinals
February 10th – Third-place match
February 11 – Final
The tournament has many favourites, all with different backings as to why they can be favoured to take it all the way.
Senegal are the defending champions and with Sadio Mané, Kalidou Koulibaly and Idrissa Gueye present, Senegal will look to win back-to-back titles. Factoring in Edouard Mendy in net, the team has the squad depth to make a deep run in the tournament. The Lions of Teranga will also look to carry on the unbeaten performance during qualifiers into this tournament to continue the success of 2021 AFCON.
Egypt carries the record seven AFCON titles and will look to be successful once again. Egypt’s last victory was in 2010, when they completed a historic third straight win (2006, 2008 and 2010). While recent years have seen that success tempered with losses in the final in 2017 and 2021, they have shown how far they are capable of making it and now with an in-form premier league superstar, the team just may be equipped to take it all the way.
Nigeria’s current talent pool brings a lot of firepower and depth with the likes of Victor Osimhen, and up-and-coming Bayern Leverkusen striker Victor Boniface, who has shown immense potential in the Bundesliga and will make for a great addition to the arsenal of attacking star power on the Nigerian squad. Add on other notable names like Samuel Chukwueze and Ademola Lookman to the mix and the team begins to garner a massive advantage, making the Super Eagles a serious contender this AFCON.
Host nation Ivory Coast has experienced players such as Franck Kessie, Seko Fofana and Sebastien Haller and, of course, have the home-field advantage on their side. They have the chance to go further than they did at the 2021 AFCON, where they were eliminated by Egypt on penalties in the round of 16. The hosting country will fight for glory at home and will do so with the help of the flourishing right full-back Wilfried Singo, who has been catching the eyes of many clubs since his move to Ligue 1 side Monaco from Torino FC. The two-time champions will certainly be a team to keep an eye on throughout the tournament as the squad possesses the firepower to generate some upsets and surprises along the way.
Algeria also makes the list of favourites, though its recent performance in failing to qualify for the 2022 World Cup puts the team's position of making it far into the tournament up for debate. However, coach Djamel Belmadi will use the already talented squad consisting of Riyad Mahrez and Ismael Bennacer, as well as recent national team addition Houssem Aouar, to make it deep in this edition of AFCON.
One more favourite is none other than Morocco. Their performance at the World Cup, becoming the first African Nation to reach the semi-final in 2022, makes the Atlas Lions a team to watch. Morocco is also a top-tier team when it comes to star power – with a squad containing Achraf Hakimi, goalkeeper Yassine Bounou, Hakim Ziyech and midfielder Sofyan Amrabat, skill is accounted for on every side of the field for Morocco. Walid Regragui’s side appears the most poised to make it all the way and win their first AFCON title since 1976.
The tournament is set to be one you will not want to miss. All the action begins with hosts Ivory Coast taking on Guinea-Bissau on January 13th.
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