AFCON 2023: Nigeria vs Ivory Coast Among Top 5 Games to Watch in Group Stages

AFCON 2023: Nigeria vs Ivory Coast Among Top 5 Games to Watch in Group Stages

Chukwu Ikechukwu
updated at December 22, 2023 at 12:21 PM
In this article:
CAF Africa Cup of Nations logo
  • The 2023 Africa Cup of Nations is set to kick off on January 13
  • The 24 qualifying teams have been split into six groups by CAF
  • Senegal are the defending champions going into AFCON 2023

The 2023 Africa Cup of Nations group stage has no shortage of quality matches worth cancelling all plans to see when the competition begins on January 13.

24 teams are vying to be crowned champions of Africa, with Senegal aiming to defend the trophy they won for the first time in their history in 2021 when they defeated Egypt via penalties.

Senegal captain, Kalidou Koulibaly preventing an attack from Egypt's Mohamed Salah in the final of the 2021 AFCON.
Senegal captain, Kalidou Koulibaly preventing an attack from Egypt's Mohamed Salah in the final of the 2021 AFCON. Photo by NurPhoto.
Source: Getty Images

Following the conclusion of the AFCON 2023 draws, held at the Parc des Expositions d'Abidjan in Abidjan on October 12, fans are highly anticipating some key matchups when the competition kicks off.

The 24 teams that qualified for the tournament were divided into six groups of four each with Nigeria and Ivory Coast in Group A, Egypt in Group B, and Senegal leading the pack in Group C, per Wikipedia.

Sports Brief highlights the top five matches to watch out for in the group stages of the 32nd edition of the AFCON, scheduled to be hosted by Ivory Coast.

Top 5 AFCON matches to watch

1. Nigeria vs Ivory Coast

On January 18, the headliner will emerge from Group A action as regional giants, Ivory Coast and Nigeria reprise their famous rivalry, All Nigeria Soccer reports.

When these two African stalwarts meet, well-known stars like Wilfried Zaha face off against reigning African football king and Super Eagles ace, Victor Osimhen.

2. Senegal vs Cameroon

The perennial derby between African champions, Senegal and one of the pre-tournament AFCON favourites, Cameroon on January 19 promises a world-class show of ability.

Sadio Mane may have relocated to the Middle East, but the former Liverpool star remains the focal point against another European great, Manchester United goalkeeper, Andre Onana.

3. Ghana vs Egypt

Given the history between two regional rivals, Ghana's January 18 clash with seven-time winners, Egypt deserves marquee status in Group B.

The Black Stars will try to contain the Pharaohs' fast-paced attack, powered by Liverpool superstar, Mohamed Salah.

Meanwhile, striker Jordan Ayew, along with his brother Andre Ayew, leads the Ghanaian line against a typically strong Egyptian side in a classic attack vs. defence battle.

4. Tunisia vs Mali

While there is no clear favourite in Group E, Tunisia's match against Mali on January 20 offers potential for individual talents such as Tunisian hitman, Whabi Khazri and Malian sniper, Ibrahima Kone to affect the outcome.

Given Tunisia's recent AFCON quarter-final credentials and Mali's status as hard-fighting underdogs, their quest to advance from a wide-open group could be an exciting spectacle.

5. South Africa vs Tunisia

Finally, on January 24, Group E features another highly anticipated matchup between South Africa and Tunisia's generally defensively disciplined squad.

Bafana Bafana will rely on Al Ahly star, Percy Tau to break through Tunisia's well-organised backline to cause an early upset en route to the knockout stages.

Favourites for the AFCON trophy

Sports Brief previously reported that three African powerhouses have been tipped by an ex-Nigeria star as the favourites to win the 2023 AFCON in Ivory Coast.

Senegal will aim to defend the title they won two years ago as the continent's 24 best teams get set to contest Africa’s top football prize from January 13 to February 11.

Mutiu Adepoju, who won the continental tournament with Nigeria's Super Eagles squad of 1994, believes the AFCON 2023 title will come down to one of three nations.

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Chukwu Ikechukwu
Chukwu Ikechukwu Godwin is a journalist with over 9 years of experience in the Nigerian media industry. He has worked both in Radio (Today FM, Rhythm FM, Wish FM) and Television (Silverbird TV) as a Sports Analyst..
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