AFCON 2023: A Complete Breakdown of Every Group and What to Expect in Ivory Coast

AFCON 2023: A Complete Breakdown of Every Group and What to Expect in Ivory Coast

Edwin Kiplagat
updated at January 8, 2024 at 9:32 AM
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  • The 34th edition of the Africa Cup of Nations is just days away
  • A total of 24 teams will compete for the prize come February 11
  • Sports Brief takes a deep dive into every group of the tournament

The 2023 Africa Cup of Nations is less than a week away, and the excitement is building up for the opening ceremony on January 13.

Fans, pundits, and ex-players have been making their predictions of the tournament and who could possibly win it.

Nicolas Pepe, Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, AFCON 2023, Cote d'Ivoire, Egypt, Senegal, Nigeria, Ghana, Morocco
Nicolas Pepe, Sadio Mane, and Mohamed Salah will be looking to inspire their respective nations at AFCON 2023. Photos by Sebastian Frej/MB Media, Matthew Ashton - AMA, and Visionhaus.
Source: Getty Images

The 34th edition of the tournament is considered one of the most wide-open in recent times, with several teams capable of lifting the title on February 11.

An important element to note is that the tournament has always been unpredictable. Sports Brief breaks down every AFCON 2023 group and what we should expect.

AFCON group breakdown

Group A - Cote d'Ivoire, Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau

This group is straightforward on paper. Cote d'Ivoire -the host nation - and Nigeria have better players than the other two nations, so, most would fancy both to easily progress to the knockout stages.

The Elephants are hosting the event for the second time and are looking for their third continental title. They last won it in 2015 at the tail end of their Golden Generation. They have a young squad led by the experienced Max Gradel, who was part of the 2015 title-winning team. The likes of Sebastien Haller, Nicolas Pepe, Ibrahim Snagare, and Franck Kessie should make qualification easy for the hosts.

Meanwhile, Nigeria have been accused many times for underachieving at the tournament. Their strike force of Victor Osimhen and Victor Boniface is arguably the best at the tournament, so they should comfortably get through. They are making their 20th AFCON appearance, per CAF.

Equatorial Guinea finished fourth in 2015, so they could be a problem for the two fancied nations. They have exciting players who play across Europe.

Guinea-Bissau will be playing in their fourth AFCON tournament and they will face the hosts in the opening game, which is daunting. Their clash with Equatorial Guinea will be huge if they both lose to the West African giants.

Group B - Egypt, Ghana, Cape Verde, Mozambique

No country has won more AFCON trophies (7) than Egypt. With Mohamed Salah, they always have a chance, and that was evident in the 2021 edition where they reached the final.

Pressure will be on Ghana to end their 42-year drought this year again. This time around, they have an in-form Mohammed Kudus and Atheltic Bilbao striker, Inaki Williams to rely on. Ghana and Egypt are favourites to progress from this group.

Cape Verde have reached the quarter-final before and are playing in their second straight tournament. They will look to winger, Ryan Mendes to give them inspiration.

This will be the first tournament for Mozambique since 2010 and they will be hoping for good performances in a tough AFCON group.

Group C - Senegal, Cameroon, Guinea, Gambia

This group has two giants and former winners of the tournament, Senegal and Cameroon. Senegal are the defending champion and are still one of the best teams on the continent, per the BBC.

Cameroon have always made their mark at AFCON and although their squad isn't as great as it was a few years ago, they are always competitive. Therefore, Senegal and Cameroon should get through comfortably. However, Guinea might be a problem for them.

Guinea finished second in 1976 and have been a regular at the tournament. They will be looking for inspiration from one of the hottest strikers in the world - Serhou Guirassy.

The Gambia made their AFCON debut in 2021 and reached the quarter-finals. They may not be pushovers.

Group D - Algeria, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, and Angola

2019 champions, Algeria are still one of the best teams on the continent and will be looking to right the wrongs of the 2021 edition, where they didn't get past the group stage.

Burkina Faso have been consistent in the last few years. They finished second in 2013 and third in 2017. They also finished fourth in the 2021 tournament and will surely be a contender to progress from this group. Their squad consists of players like Edmond Tapsoba and Bertrand Traore.

Angola have reached the quarter-final before and a a serious candidate to progress from this group. Meanwhile, Mauritania only made their AFCON debut in 2019 and will face an uphill task when they face the other teams in this group.

Group E - Tunisia, South Africa, Namibia, Mali

This is a tough group since three teams, Tunisia, South Africa, and Mali all have a chance of progressing. Tunisia are one of the most consistent teams on the continent and have made it out for the group stages many times this century. They eliminated Nigeria in the last tournament.

Since winning the tournament in 1996, South Africa have failed to impress. However, they are coached by 2017 AFCON winner with Cameroon, Hugo Broos, and expectations are high.

Mali are another West African team that has always threatened. They have qualified for every AFCON tournament since 2008. They reached the last 16 in the last two tournaments.

Namibia are making their fourth appearance and are yet to win a match, so things will be tough for them, and the group will likely be fought between the three other teams.

Group F - Morocco, DR Congo, Zambia, Tanzania

Many expect Morocco to go all the way in this tournament, and they couldn't have asked for a better group. They are the top-ranked team in Africa, and anything less than a final will be a disappointment.

DR Congo and Zambia have won the tournament before, but their squads are much different now. Zambia won it in 2012 and are in their first AFCON appearance since 2015. DR Congo's title came in the 1970s, and they even missed out on the 2021 edition. These two sides will probably fight for the second spot.

Tanzania are playing their third AFCON tournament and they are in a tough group.

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Algerian legend names AFCON contenders

Sports Brief also previously reported on Algerian football legend, Rabah Madjer naming possible AFCON 2023 winners.

The Algerian said it is difficult to pick just one team considering there are several teams that could go all the way to win it all.

Madjer is one of Africa's greatest players. He won the 1990 AFCON with Algeria as well as the 1987 European Cup with Porto.

Edwin Kiplagat photo
Edwin Kiplagat
Edwin Kiplagat has five years of experience in journalism working as a Sports Editor at Africa Insight Communications and ESPN. Edwin Kiplagat is a Bachelor's Degree holder in journalism from the Multimedia University of Kenya.