AFCON 2023: Ranking the Five Best Teams of the Tournament After Match Round One

AFCON 2023: Ranking the Five Best Teams of the Tournament After Match Round One

Ero Samson
updated at February 13, 2024 at 11:54 AM
In this article:
CAF Africa Cup of Nations logo
CAF AFCON
Africa
Ivory Coast logo
Cote DIvoire
Ivory Coast
27
Senegal logo
Senegal
Senegal
29
Morocco logo
Morocco
Morocco
29
Namibia logo
Namibia
Namibia
24
Cape Verde logo
Cape Verde
Cape Verde
24
  • The Africa Cup of Nations has continued to dominate the continent’s footballing scene
  • A host of countries are vying for the prestigious Cup of Nations title in Ivory Coast
  • Sports Brief highlights five of the best teams at the AFCON tournament so far

The initial round of matches in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) have concluded, leaving fans eagerly anticipating the upcoming round two fixtures.

The tournament has witnessed a mix of impressive performances and unexpected outcomes, shaping the narrative of potential title contenders.

AFCON, CAF, Ivory Coast, Morocco, Senegal
A view of a replica of the Africa Cup of Nations trophy during the opening ceremony at the Alassane Ouattara Olympic Stadium in Abidjan. Image: Issouf Sanogo.
Source: Getty Images

While some nations asserted themselves as early favourites with convincing victories in round one, others, considered giants, faltered in their performances, and some touted favourites failed to live up to expectations.

However, the notions of stumbling and falling short do not apply to all, as exemplified by teams like Senegal, whose clear intent for victory against Gambia was highlighted by the impressive performance of AFCON U20 star Lamine Camara.

In the context of AFCON, it's often emphasised that it's not just about how you start but how well you finish.

There is no harm in acknowledging the performances we have witnessed so far, especially in what has been a hugely entertaining tournament and Sports Brief in this piece highlights five of the best teams of the 2023 AFCON so far.

Senegal

The Teranga Lions displayed abundant class and finesse while effortlessly defeating Tom Saintfiet's Gambian side. Aliou Cisse's team maintained complete control of the match, and their exceptional finishing prowess added another layer of admiration.

As per Fotmob's data, Senegal generated an impressive 1.88 Expected Goals (xG) and a further 4.56 xG on target. The team managed to convert this dominance into three goals, with Lamine Camara's brace emerging as the standout performance of the round.

One thing is evident: the defending champions, Senegal, are determined to retain their crown in Ivory Coast and are prepared to put up a formidable fight to achieve that goal.

Morocco

The Atlas Lions have seamlessly continued their momentum from the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

Walid Regragui and his troops are on the march, and their first victim was Adel Amrouche’s Tanzania.

With Azzedine Ounahi pulling the strings in the midfield, Morocco was able to put three goals past their opponents.

This impressive performance against the Taifa Stars might just mark the beginning of Morocco's journey towards ending their 47-year-long quest for an AFCON crown.

Cape Verde

Pedro Brito's team serves as a testament to the fact that the underdogs in African football are rapidly closing the gap with the traditionally regarded giants of the continent.

While envisioning the Blue Sharks as potential AFCON champions may seem ambitious, their remarkable performance against Ghana was deserving of such lofty aspirations.

Initiating an assertive approach against Chris Hughton's squad, the Cape Verdeans took the lead 17 minutes into the match through Jamiro Monteiro.

Despite Ghana equalising with a goal from Alexander Djiku, the Blue Sharks persisted until the end and secured a dramatic 91st-minute winner courtesy of forward Garry Rodrigues.

While the notion of winning the AFCON may currently appear as a monumental dream, the Cape Verdeans are undeniably shaping up as a team with their sights firmly set on clinching a medal in the tournament.

Namibia

Namibia, unyielding and undaunted, promptly served notice to Tunisia that they were in Ivory Coast not merely as participants but as formidable competitors.

This intent was made clear through a decisive 88th-minute goal from Orlando Pirates forward Deon Hotto.

Under the guidance of Collin Benjamin, the Namibians successfully compelled the 2004 AFCON champions to adopt a game plan that tested their confidence.

The Brave Warriors demonstrated unwavering intensity on the field, leaving no blade of grass uncovered.

However, it is essential to underscore the team's deficiency in technical finesse, a potential vulnerability that could come back to haunt them at some juncture in the tournament.

Ivory Coast

The host nation is currently riding high on the wings of the Eagles after securing a victory against Guinea-Bissau on the opening day. The abundance of attacking talents at the disposal of coach Jean-Louis Gasset stands out as a pivotal factor that could propel the team towards clinching the title.

Despite some analysts pointing out that Les Elephants could have delivered a more compelling performance, the country's fans find solace in the final scoreline, recognising that, ultimately, it is the most crucial factor in football.

Super Eagles icon makes AFCON prediction

In a previous report, Sports Brief spotlighted the predictions of former Super Eagles goalkeeper Dosu Joseph for the upcoming AFCON tournament. The 50-year-old expressed strong support for his beloved nation, Nigeria, to emerge as the tournament champions.

Additionally, Dosu Joseph made a bold assertion, stating that he believes Victor Osimhen will be crowned as the tournament's Most Valuable Player (MVP).

These sentiments from the 1996 Atlanta Olympics Gold medalist seem to align with the predictions of several other former international players who have shared their insights on the upcoming AFCON.

Authors
Ero Samson photo
Ero Samson
Samson Ero is a sports journalist with a track record of over five years in the Nigerian media industry. He graduated from Nigerian Institute of Journalism (2021-2023).