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AFCON 2025: Top 5 Favourites to Win the Tournament After Ivory Coast Clinches 2023 Edition
- The 2023 AFCON ended with Ivory Coast lifting the title
- The next tournament will take place in Morocco in 2025
- Morocco are the early favourites to lift the title at home
Ivory Coast brought the curtain down on the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, on Sunday, February 11.
The hosts beat Nigeria 2-1 to clinch their third continental crown to cap off a miraculous revival after nearly exiting the tournament early on.
2023 favourites, Morocco, will host the 2025 tournament and there will be many other teams looking to end title droughts like Ghana and Nigeria.
Several teams failed to meet pre-tournament expectations in Ivory Coast. Ghana, Senegal, Algeria, and Morocco delivered underwhelming performances at the tournament, and the 2025 edition offers them an opportunity to right the wrongs.
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Ivory Coast became the first host nation to win the title since Egypt in 2006. They did so by overcoming setbacks along the way.
Morocco will take that as motivation ahead of the 2025 tournament set to be hosted in their country. So who are the early top 5 favourites to win in 2025?
2025 AFCON favourites
5. Ivory Coast
The Elephants needed some good fortune to reach the final. They suffered an embarrassing defeat at the group stage, but were saved by results in other groups. After reaching the knockout round, they eliminated Senegal, survived a red card, and a penalty miss to beat Mali, comfortably edging DR Congo before beating Nigeria.
Egypt were the last team to retain their AFCON title. The tournament has not been kind to the defending champions since then so the 'champions curse' could haunt Ivory Coast next year. Nevertheless, they have a solid squad that can still compete for another title.
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4. South Africa
Few expected Bafana Bafana to reach the semi-final or finish third in Ivory Coast (except Yaya Toure). Although they didn't have the individual talent of Ivory Coast, Nigeria, or Senegal, they had chemistry. Most of their players play together at the club level, a factor which made it easier for coach, Hugo Broos.
Their journey at the 2023 edition saw them eliminate the Atlas Lions and dark horses, Cape Verde. If they retain the current setup and make slight tweaks, they will be a headache for the so-called big teams in Morocco.
The 2021 champions title defence ended in the Round of 16. After a perfect group stage campaign, they failed to finish off a lumbering Ivory Coast side that had sacked their manager mid-tournament.
It will likely be the last AFCON tournament for their Golden Generation, led by Sadio Mane, Kalidou Koulibaly, and Edouard Mendy. Aside from those three, they are still a talented side. They will definitely challenge for the title next year.
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The Super Eagles's 2023 tournament ended in harrowing fashion. Despite going ahead in the game, they were well-beaten by the hosts in the final. Their pragmatic approach had worked throughout the tournament, but it backfired in the final.
African Footballer of the Year, Victor Osimhen, is just getting to his prime, so expect Nigeria to challenge again. Victor Boniface, Wilfred Ndidi, and Sadiq Umar didn't even play due to injury. Therefore, they could be the most talented team in Morocco.
Walid Regragui's side are the only African team to reach a World Cup semi-final. Their 2023 AFCON campaign, by comparison, was not impressive. South Africa stopped them in the Round of 16, nullifying the likes of Achraf Hakimi and Youssef En-Nesyri.
The Atlas Lions will be under extreme pressure in front of their fans next year. Still, the supporters could be the key to their first AFCON success since 1976.
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The core of their team is still intact. Goalkeeper, Yassine Bounou, Hakimi, Nayef Aguerd, En-Nesyri, and youngster Amine Adli can go toe-to-toe with any team on the continent. With that squad, the final should be their minimum target.
2023 AFCON disappointments
Sports Brief also previously reported on the major disappointments at the 2023 AFCON. Osimhen made the list, having scored just once and despite significant contributions, his performance in the final was wanting.
Ghana topped the list following a second successive group-stage exit. Their poor display resulted in the firing of coach, Chris Hughton. Algeria also failed to get past the group stage for the second tournament in a row.