AFCON 2023: ‘Defending Champion Curse’ Strikes As Ivory Coast Eliminate Senegal, Fans React

AFCON 2023: ‘Defending Champion Curse’ Strikes As Ivory Coast Eliminate Senegal, Fans React

Godwin Nii Armah Tagoe
updated at January 30, 2024 at 1:10 AM
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Senegal logo
Ivory Coast logo
Cote DIvoire
Ivory Coast
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S. Mané
Al Nassr FC logoFSenegal logo
  • Ivory Coast knocked out defending champions Senegal on post-match penalties
  • Senegal joins a host of nations to successfully defend their title since 2010
  • Fans have had their take on what has been described as the ‘Defending Champion Curse’

The 2023 TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations unfolded yet another remarkable story as Ivory Coast shocked defending champions Senegal to secure a spot in the quarterfinals.

Despite suffering consecutive defeats in the group stages and barely qualifying as one of the third-best-placed teams, Ivory Coast faced a formidable challenge against the Teranga Lions, who boasted a flawless record in the group stages.

Senegal, penalties, Ivory Coast, round of 16, defending champions, AFCON
Senegal players watched in despair after suffering elimination in the round of 16 against Ivory Coast. Photo credit: @GOALAfrica.
Source: Twitter

How Ivory Coast stunned Senegal?

Senegal swiftly took the lead through Habib Diallo after just four minutes, a development that seemed unsurprising, per MWN.

However, the Elephants, showing renewed vigour compared to their previous 4-0 defeat against Equatorial Guinea, displayed valiant efforts.

Their perseverance paid off deep into the second half when substitute Frank Kessie scored from the penalty spot, pushing the game into extra time and, subsequently, a nerve-wracking penalty shootout.

In a twist of fate, the host nation emerged victorious over their West African rivals, clinching a 5-4 win on penalties.

Moussa Niakhate of Senegal was the sole player who faltered from the 12-yard mark, contributing to Ivory Coast's success.

Senegal's elimination adds to the tournament's trend of big countries that have fallen off as the tournament reaches the business end.

Performance of AFCON defending champions since 2010

According to CAFOnline, Senegal's failure to reach the quarter-finals of the 2023 AFCON has become a recurring trend, marking the seventh consecutive edition.

Since Egypt managed to three-peat the AFCON between 2006 and 2010, no nation has managed to crack the code of successfully defending the trophy they won in their previous edition.

AFCON Edition

Defending Champions

Position in next edition



Round of 16



Group stages



Round of 16


Ivory Coast

Round of 16



Did not qualify



Group stage



Did not qualify

How fans reacted?

One fan, @rxbiu, suggested Senegal's elimination was a good omen for African football:

"Good for our football tbh."

@gyaewas3m added:

"The history repeats itself."

@future14998 believes the AFCON title is a poisoned chalice:

"It's more like the curse repeated itself. Winning AFCON now has a poison chalice attached to it, which is the defending champion is likely not gonna reach the quarterfinals in the next tournament."

@xorlabag aimed a dig at Senegal and star player Sadio Mane:

"For what shall it profit a team to play beautiful football in the group stage only to get kicked out in the round of 16. Now Mané can enjoy his honeymoon."

@_elvis_simons summed up his thoughts in two words:

"That’s interesting."

Ivory Coast knock Senegal out of AFCON

Sports Brief earlier reported that in a surprising turn of events, hosts Ivory Coast shocked Senegal at the Africa Cup of Nations on Monday, eliminating the reigning champions on penalties in the last 16 and keeping their aspirations of winning the title on home soil alive.

Just a week ago, the Ivorians seemed destined for a humiliating group-stage exit from their own AFCON, but they have now advanced to the quarter-finals by defeating Senegal 5-4 on penalties after a 1-1 draw at the end of extra time.

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.