AFCON 2023: FIFA’s Top Ranked African Sides Humbled as South Africa Adds Morocco to List of Scalps

AFCON 2023: FIFA’s Top Ranked African Sides Humbled as South Africa Adds Morocco to List of Scalps

Godwin Nii Armah Tagoe
updated at February 13, 2024 at 11:54 AM
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CAF Africa Cup of Nations logo
CAF AFCON
Africa
Morocco logo
Morocco
Morocco
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Egypt logo
Egypt
Egypt
30
Senegal logo
Senegal
Senegal
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Tunisia logo
Tunisia
Tunisia
30
Algeria logo
Algeria
Algeria
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Achraf Hakimi logo
A.Hakimi
Paris Saint Germain (PSG) logoDMorocco logo
Mohamed Salah logo
M. Salah
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Al Nassr FC logoFSenegal logo
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Cameroon
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  • The AFCON 2023 storyline continues to add more intrigue with each new round
  • Morocco became the latest big side to exit the competition before the last eight
  • Sports Brief takes a look at the top 10 FIFA-ranked teams who failed at AFCON

Morocco has joined the list of top-ranked nations making an early exit from the ongoing 2023 TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations, after a surprising 2-0 defeat to South Africa in the last 16.

The Atlas Lions, aiming to end a title drought of nearly five decades, were favourites after progressing smoothly through the group stages, riding on their 2022 FIFA World Cup success.

Morocco were the last of the top five ranked nations by FIFA to exit the 2023 AFCON before the quarter-final stage.
Morocco were the last of the top five ranked nations by FIFA to exit the 2023 AFCON before the quarter-final stage. Photo by Anadolu.
Source: Getty Images

However, Bafana Bafana pulled off a major upset with a poacher's finish from Orlando Pirates striker, Evidence Makgopa setting the tone.

According to GOAL, Achraf Hakimi's penalty miss in the 85th minute paved the way for Teboho Mokoena to add insult to injury with his sublime free kick in additional time, securing the win for Hugo Broos' charges.

Morocco's elimination contributes to the trend of high-ranking teams falling short at the quarterfinal stage. Sports Brief delves into this growing phenomenon, placing emphasis on the Top 10 teams in Africa.

It is worth noting that the ranking used in this report dates from December 21, 2023, with the latest rankings set to be published on February 15, 2024, according to FIFA.

Top rank African sides fall at AFCON

Senegal, ranked 20th globally and Africa's second top team by FIFA, faced an unexpected setback when Ivory Coast defeated them 5-4 in a post-match penalty shootout during the Round of 16.

Meanwhile, Tunisia, the third-highest country on the rankings, failed to progress beyond the group stages, finishing at the bottom of Group E behind Mali, South Africa, and Namibia.

The Carthage Eagles struggled to secure a win in the biennial tournament, drawing twice and losing once while scoring only twice.

Algeria, fourth in Africa, also exited the AFCON at the group stage, finishing last in their group with just two points, France24 reports.

Similarly, like their North African counterparts, the 2019 champions posted similar statistics, scoring just one more goal than Tunisia.

Remarkably, among the top six FIFA-ranked African countries, only Nigeria remains in the competition after defeating Cameroon 2-0 to set up a meeting with Angola.

Egypt, a seven-time winner and finalist in 2017 and 2021, only managed to progress through the knockout stage but fell to DR Congo on penalties in the Round of 16.

Cameroon, five-time winners of the AFCON, rallied in their decisive third game against The Gambia, securing a 3-2 comeback win.

However, they were eliminated by a formidable Nigerian team, now considered favourites after the surprising exits of other African heavyweights.

Ivory Coast's continued participation in this year's competition seems like a Hollywood-scripted movie.

On the brink of elimination and facing potential coaching changes, Les Elephants defied the odds by eliminating defending champions Senegal in dramatic fashion.

While other top nations struggled, Mali quietly handled their business, drawing twice in the group phase and defeating South Africa 2-0.

They also added 2013 AFCON finalists, Burkina Faso to their list of victories in the last 16 tie and will face the tournament hosts for a place in the semi-finals.

In summary, seven out of the top 10 sides have been eliminated, leaving Nigeria, Cote d'Ivoire, and Mali as the sole contenders as the competition advances to the quarter-finals.

Top 10 African sides according to FIFA's last ranking:

Rank

Country

1

Morocco

2

Senegal

3

Tunisia

4

Algeria

5

Egypt

6

Nigeria

7

Cameroon

8

Cote d'Ivoire

9

Mali

10

Burkina Faso

AFCON 2023 quarter-final matchups

Meanwhile, as Sports Brief has previously reported, the lineup is finalised for the quarter-finals of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations heading into February.

Eight countries have reached AFCON's last eight as the competition intensifies in the pursuit of a place in the last four after the conclusion of the Round of 16.

Authors
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.