AFCON 2023

2023 Africa Cup of Nations Review 

The 2023 African Cup of Nations is already on with fans and teams now gearing for the last 16 of the tournament.

The showpiece was originally scheduled to be played during the summer but it was postponed by the Confederation of Africa Football (CAF) due to weather concerns in host nation Ivory Coast and rescheduled to January-February 2024.

Twenty-four teams qualified to compete in the group stage, with 16 of those progressing to the knockout stage of the tournament.

Group A consisted of hosts Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea. The latter has surprised by many in coming on top of the group with the hosts having to depend on other results that went their way to make it to the knockout phase.

Group B had giants Egypt, Ghana, Cape Verde, Mozambique. Just like in Group A, minnows Cape Verde emerged as group winner with Ghana having to exit the competition in the group stage.

Group C had Senegal, Cameroon, Guinea, Gambia. Defending Champions Senegal made no mistakes and came out of the group with a 100% record but Cameroon left it late in the group to secure a place in the knockout phase.

Group D had Algeria, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Angola, Group E having Tunisia, Mali, South Africa, Namibia while Group F comprising of Morocco, DR Congo, Zambia, Tanzania.

Shock of the Group

After a group stage full of shocks, including football heavyweights Ghana, 2019 winners Algeria and Tunisia being eliminated, the 2023 CAF Africa Cup of Nations is into the knockout rounds.

Ghana started their campaign with a shock 2-1 loss to Cape Verde. With most people thinking that they were to come good in the remaining two games, they were to be held to a 2-2 draw by Egypt in the second goal despite the returning Mohamed Kudus grabbing a brace. The draw left them with no option but to win their last game against Mozambique. Everything seemed to be going well for the West African nation after taking a 2-1 lead heading into the final minute but an error from keeper Ofori saw him concede a needless corner that was tucked in by their opponents who went to secure a draw to leave the Ghanians with just two points from the three games.

2019 AFCON winners Algeria also started in a slow fashion after being held to a 1-1 draw by Angola in their opener. Many gave them a chance in the subsequent games but another 2-2 draw against Burkina Faso and a loss to Mauritania in their last game saw them exit the tournament in the group stage.

The same fate befell Tunisia who started their campaign with a 0-1 loss at the hands of Namibia, drawing Mali to a 1-1 draw before finishing their group with a goalless draw against South Africa.

The Group Stage Results Can be Checked Here

The Last 16

The last 16 teams to have survived the first round include surprise names like Mauritania, playing in just their third ever AFCON tournament, while big names like Egypt and hosts Côte d’Ivoire only barely made it through to the second round.

From 27 to 30 January 2024, the last 16 teams will face each other for a shot at making the quarter-finals, while also discovering their opponents for the next round.

Last 16 Fixtures

Saturday 27 January

· Stade de la Paix, Bouake: Angola vs Namibia

· Stade Félix Houphouet-Boigny, Abidjan: Nigeria vs Cameroon

Sunday 28 January

·         Stade Olympique Alassane Ouattara, Abidjan: Equatorial Guinea vs Guinea

·         Stade Laurent Pokou, San Pedro: Egypt vs DR Congo

Monday 29 January

·         Stade Félix Houphouet-Boigny, Abidjan: Cape Verde vs Mauritania

·         Stade Charles Konan Barry, Yamoussoukro: Senegal vs Côte d’Ivoire

Tuesday 30 January

· Stade Amadou Gon Colibaly, Korhogo: Mali vs Burkina Faso

· Stade Laurent Pokou, San Pedro: Morocco vs South Africa

Sacked Coaches

With great task, comes great responsibilities. While the tournament has been set a light by minnows, it has been a bad outing for the ‘established’ team with six coaches already leaving their roles.

While they are in the last 16 by the skin of their teeth, hosts Ivory Coast parted ways with head coach Jean-Louis Gasset two days after their 4-0 defeat against Equatorial Guinea. That loss left the Elephants with slim hopes of progressing to the last 16. However, Morocco’s win over Zambia later on Wednesday meant Ivory Coast snuck in as one of the best third-placed teams.

Another coach who is out of job is Djamel Belmadi. Algeria decided to part ways with Belmadi after they finished bottom of their group. The same fate befell Chris Hughton who was sacked by Ghana following the national team’s exit from the tournament. His dismissal was confirmed by the Ghana Football Association Tuesday 23rd January, 2024.

The first to be sent home was Tanzania’s Adel Amrouche who accused the Motoccan Football Federation of interfering with the officiating in their opening match. Tanzania Football Federation went ahead to sack the coach with CAF slapping him with an eight-game ban.

Djamel Belmadi parted ways with Algeria after an underwhelming campaign that culminated in an embarrassing defeat against minnows, Mauritania. Tom Saintfiet resigned from his role after the Gambia were eliminated from AFCON in the group stages.

Tunisia’s Jalel Kadri became the latest manager to quit his position after the North African football powerhouse was bundled out of the tournament.

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