AFCON 2023: Senegal Fails to Break 'Curse' As Ivory Coast Eliminate Defending Champions

AFCON 2023: Senegal Fails to Break 'Curse' As Ivory Coast Eliminate Defending Champions

Martin Moses
updated at February 13, 2024 at 11:54 AM
In this article:
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Super Eagles
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Cote DIvoire
Ivory Coast
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  • Senegal crashed out of AFCON 2023 in the round of 16 after losing to Ivory Coast
  • The hosts took the game to post-match penalty shootouts after a one-all draw
  • The curse of an African champion failing to go past the round of 16 therefore continues

Senegal failed to break the curse of becoming the first reigning Africa champion to qualify for the next quarterfinals after falling to hosts Ivory Coast in Yamoussoukro on January 29.

No African champion, since Egypt in 2010, has come back to the following tournament and made it past the round of 16 - a fact the Teranga Lions looked to change.

Ibrahima Sangare, Sadio Mane, AFCON 2023, Senegal, Ivory Coast
Ibrahima Sangare tussles for the ball with Sadio Mane on January 29. Photo by MB Media.
Source: Getty Images

Ivory Coast, who were on the verge of elimination before Morocco beat Zambia, went behind to an early rocket of a shot from Habib Diallo after splendid work from Sadio Mane.

The Elephants, however, beautifully crawled their way back into the game, pinning Aliou Cisse's men into their own half. Their chance came four minutes from time after Edouard Mendy fouled Nicolas Pepe inside the area. Franck Kessie stepped up from the bench to score the penalty and force the game into extra time.

In the shootout, Moussa Niakhate smashed his effort on the post, with Ivory Coast scoring all their penalties to send the defending champions out.

The AFCON defending champion curse?

We look at how the defending champions performed in the subsequent tournaments, and which stage they bowed out at.

Egypt 2012 - Didn't qualify

The record champions shocked many when they failed to qualify entirely for the 2012 tournament co-hosted by Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. They finished bottom of their qualification group, which had Niger, South Africa and Sierra Leone.

Zambia 2013 - Group Stage

After stunning Ivory Coast in the 2012 final, the Chipolopolo Stars came back to the 2013 edition in South Africa looking to repeat the heroics from the year before.

However, they drew 1-1 with Ethiopia, recorded a similar scoreline vs eventual champions Nigeria before playing a goalless draw with Burkina Faso in Group C. The three points were insufficient to proceed as they crumbled in the group stage.

Nigeria 2015 - Didn't qualify

The Super Eagles were only third behind South Africa and Congo in their qualification group. They similarly failed to make the cut as one of the best second-placed teams after DR Congo nicked that sole ticket after getting one point more than the West Africans.

Ivory Coast 2017 - Group Stage

After finally winning their second trophy after years of trying, Ivory Coast failed to replicate their success in 2017, finishing third behind DR Congo and Morocco in Gabon.

Cameroon 2019 - Round of 16

The Indomitable Lions came close to breaking the curse in 2019, only for Nigeria to beat them in the round of 16 in a classic 3-2 thriller at the Alexandria Stadium in Egypt. They had finished second in Group F behind Ghana.

Algeria 2022 - Group Stage

Djamel Belmadi's side mounted one of the most embarrassing title defences in recent AFCON history after they bowed out in the first round. The Desert Foxes finished bottom in a group with Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea and Sierra Leone.

Goalkeeper with most cleansheets at AFCON 2023

Sports Brief has also reported that Stanley Nwabali leads the list of goalkeepers with the most clean sheets at AFCON 2023.

The Nigeria custodian has featured in four games and hasn't conceded in three games, with the Super Eagles qualifying for the quarter-finals.

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Martin Moses
Martin Moses is a sports journalist with over five years of experience in media. He graduated from Multimedia University of Kenya (Bachelor of Journalism, 2017-2021)