Top Five moments of AFCON 2023 so far

The first round of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations has been concluded and it was nothing short of exciting.

Going by the looks of things, there is more excitement to come and we cannot wait for the drama that awaits in the rest of the competition which has already seen so many talking points.

The Round of 16 takes place from Saturday, January 27 until Tuesday, January 30 as the remaining nations stake a claim for the quarter-finals.

While the tournament has been full of surprise results and unexpected drama, some nations such as Equatorial Guinea and Cape Verde are having the tournament of their lives but Ghana and Algeria are out and the likes of Egypt, Cameroon and hosts Ivory Coast, have advanced to the knockout rounds by the skin of their teeth.

This article takes a look at the five best moments of the tournament so far.

Egypt 2-2 Ghana

An epic AFCON classic was served up on Matchday 2 when record seven-time African champions, Egypt, faced Ghana. Barely offering a moment to blink, the game came to life just before half-time when Mohammed Kudus fired in the opening goal only a minute after Mohamed Salah went off with a hamstring injury. 

In the second half, three goals were scored in the space of five minutes as Omar Marmoush levelled but Kudus completed his brace with a deflected effort. However, Mostafa Mohamed stabbed in to cancel the Black Stars’ lead and take a share of the points.

Gambia 2-3 Cameroon

Cameroon came out on top in a five-goal thriller when they faced Gambia on Matchday 3. The five-time champions dropped goalkeeper André Onana for the must-win game and finally opened the scoring in the 56th minute through Karl Toko Ekambi’s header.

Gambia, however, equalised via Ablie Jallow’s volley after 72 minutes and then took the lead with five minutes of normal time to go. Cameroon received a lifeline just two minutes later thanks to an own goal from James Gomez.

The drama did not stop there as Christopher Wooh rose highest to meet a corner and direct his header into the net in the 91st minute.

Queue wild scenes in the stands and dugouts as the Indomitable Lions secured progress to the Last 16.

Equatorial Guinea 4-0 Ivory Coast

Hosts Ivory Coast were handed a harsh reality check despite needing to avoid defeat in order to book a Last 16 spot.

The two-time AFCON champions gathered for a party in the 60,000-capacity Stade Alassane Ouattara, but the Equato-Guineans obliterated them with four goals for Les Elephants’ worst defeat in the competition’s history. 

Emilio Nsue struck twice to take his tally to five at this AFCON and added to further goals from Pablo Ganet and Jannick Buyla. The result propelled the minnows to win Group A with seven points while Ivory Coast eventually advanced as one of the best third-placed sides. 

Mozambique 2-2 Ghana

Ghana needed three points to secure a knockout spot and were in cruise control after Jordan Ayew’s brace but the Black Stars suffered a crushing late setback. Geny Catamo scored in the first minute of added time before a mix-up from goalkeeper, Richard Ofori, allowed Reinildo Mandava to equalise right at the death.

The draw confirmed Ghana’s exit from the competition at the same stage they have been eliminated since 2017, while they haven’t won an AFCON game since 2019.

Chris Hughton was therefore sacked from his role as the inquest begins within the Ghana Football Association. 

Mauritania 1-0 Algeria

AFCON 2019 winners, Algeria, suffered a second consecutive group stage exit after a surprise 1-0 defeat against Mauritania in the last Group D match. Djamel Belmadi made a number of changes to the side but they failed to inspire as Yali Dellahi’s first-half strike decided the match.

The Fennec Foxes boast an array of stars but somehow finished bottom of the standings after failing to win a single game. Their head coach has since left his role following their embarrassing campaign. 

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