AFCON 2023: Kudus, Boniface, and the Other Stars Set to Take Flagship African Competition by Storm

AFCON 2023: Kudus, Boniface, and the Other Stars Set to Take Flagship African Competition by Storm

Godwin Nii Armah Tagoe
updated at February 13, 2024 at 11:54 AM
In this article:
Mohammed Kudus logo
West Ham United logoMGhana logo
Simon Adingra logo
Brighton Hove Albion logoFIvory Coast logo
Patson Daka logo
P. Daka
-FZambia logo
CAF Africa Cup of Nations logo
Ghana logo
Nigeria logo
English Premier League logo
ENG Premier League
Victor Okoh Boniface logo
V. O. Boniface
Bayer Leverkusen logoFNigeria logo
  • The 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) is set to kick off on Saturday, January 13
  • Main architects like Senegal's Sadio Mane are expected to assert their dominance
  • These established stars will rub shoulders with rising talents making their debuts

In a matter of days, Africa's flagship football competition - the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) - is set to take full flight as the rest of the continent pitches its camp in Ivory Coast for the 34th edition of the tournament.

The biennial competition was originally slated to take place between June and July 2023.

However, AFCON was instead shifted to this year - from January 13 to February 11 - due to concerns over the tournament coinciding with the rainy season.

Mohammed Kudus, Patson Daka, Victor Boniface, and Bebe are expected to debut at AFCON 2023.
Mohammed Kudus, Patson Daka, Victor Boniface, and Bebe are among those expected to debut at AFCON 2023. Photos by Ivan Romano, Stephen White - CameraSport, Ralf Ibing and Shaun Botterill.
Source: Getty Images

According to reports, the humid climate zone in the West African country is characterised by high rainfall and temperatures of about 30°C between May and June, making hosting the competition then unsafe, ICIR reported.

Fast forward half a year and the wait is almost over with host nation, Ivory Coast, preparing to be the home for 23 other African nations vying for the coveted trophy.

While established A-list stars like Sadio Mane and Riyad Mahrez are expected to be the shining lights for their various countries, Sports Brief takes a look at the top six debutants set to light up the competition.

Six stars making their AFCON debut

1. Victor Boniface

Not to be confused with fellow Nigerian ace, Victor Osimhen, Boniface will be making his first bow at the continental championship.

The Bayer Leverkusen hitman has been in devastating form in the Bundesliga, scoring 10 goals and providing seven assists in 16 outings, helping his side to the summit of the table.

He will be expected to guide the Super Eagles to success with his goal-scoring prowess alongside some of the most lethal men on the continent as Jose Peseiro's side aim for the title.

2. Mohammed Kudus

Perhaps the most in-form African in Europe's top five leagues, Ghana's Kudus has already set tongues wagging in the Premier League with his impressive performance for West Ham United.

Already a mainstay in the Black Stars, the former Ajax Amsterdam star is expected to light up AFCON 2023 considering his explosive form from club level, having excelled in his maiden competition for the West African country at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Having missed out on the previous edition due to an injury setback just like Osimhen, the 23-year-old will be poised to add to his nine-goal tally for Ghana.

3. Patson Daka

The Leicester City marksman is set to belatedly make his appearance at the Africa Cup of Nations this year following Zambia's inability to qualify for the competition in previous tournaments.

While the Chipolopolo failed to qualify for AFCON in 2021, Daka finished the qualifiers as the top scorer and the 2017 African Youth Player of the Year is expected to spearhead the attack for Avram Grant's charges.

He has already excelled at junior championships and would want to do the same at the senior level this time.

4. Bebe

Does the name ring the bell? Former Manchester United forward, Tiago Manuel Dias 'Bebe' Correia, has been named in Cape Verde's squad for the 2023 edition of AFCON.

Having switched nationalities in 2022 to represent the country of his parents, he missed out on the chance to feature in the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations despite expectations.

Presently in stellar form at Rayo Vallecano in Spain, Bebe has netted four goals in 15 appearances across various competitions this season.

With this opportunity, he aims to showcase the potential that once led Sir Alex Ferguson to sign him from Vitoria Guimaraes back in 2010.

5. Simon Adingra

Emerging from the Right to Dream Academy and FC Nordsjaelland, Adingra - much like Mo Kudus - has been shining in the Premier League this season.

The gifted forward made his move to Brighton and Hove Albion in 2022, but a loan spell at Belgium's Union St Gilloise followed, per Ghanasoccernet.

After a standout season in the Belgium Pro League, Adingra was summoned back by Roberto de Zerbi for the 2023/24 season and has consistently impressed since.

As his country calls, expect the Ivorian to seize the opportunity with full force should he recover from his hamstring injury in time for the continental showpiece.

6. Lamine Camara

Camara, the rising star from Senegal, concluded a spectacular 2023 by securing the CAF Young Player of the Year accolade.

His swift ascent in African football, transitioning from a promising talent to a prominent figure, marked a year of extraordinary achievements, per CAFOnline.

In January 2023, he led Senegal to victory in the African Nations Championship (CHAN) on their home ground, earning himself the top player award.

Camara continued his stellar performances at the U20 AFCON in Egypt, claiming the Best Player title as Senegal reached the finals.

His exceptional displays garnered attention from various European clubs, ultimately leading him to sign with FC Metz in Ligue 1.

Despite already being a full-fledged senior international at the tender age of 20, Camara's trajectory appears boundless after an immensely successful year.

Salah 'copies' Kudus's celebration

Sports Brief also reported that Mohamed Salah is the latest player to emulate Mohammed Kudus' celebration after scoring for Liverpool against Newcastle United.

The West Ham United and Ghana star has set a trend of sitting on the advertising hoardings after scoring with numerous players replicating his 'iconic' style.

In a post shared on social media, Salah was seen running to the advertising board to have a sit-down while celebrating a goal against the Magpies at the mighty Anfield.

Godwin Nii Armah Tagoe photo
Godwin Nii Armah Tagoe
Godwin Nii Armah Tagoe is a Ligue 1, Bundesliga, and La Liga editor with five-year experience. He previously worked with Sports Corna and 360SportsGH.