The domestic club seasons may be in full flow right now, but a festival of international football will kick-start the 2024 schedule. As Qatar prepares to host the AFC Asian Cup on January 12th, Ivory Coast is ready to host the Africa Cup of Nations, starting on January 13th 2024, with matches to be hosted in six different stadiums in five locations such as Abidjan (2), Bouake, Korhogo, San Pedro, and Yamoussoukro.
According to kick442, six exciting groups emerged from the draws conducted in October as hosts Ivory Coast were pitched in Group A alongside Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, and Guinea-Bissau.
Multiple AFCON winners, Egypt and Ghana have been drawn in Group B while defending champions, Senegal will kick off their title defence against the likes of Cameroon, Guinea, and Gambia in Group C.
Former Manchester City and Al-Ahli forward Riyad Mahrez is one of the most prominent players taking part. He will captain Algeria to face Burkina Faso, Mauritania, and Angola in Group D.
In Group E, Tunisia drew with Mali, South Africa, and Namibia and is one of the favourites to do well in the tournament.
Morocco is still flying high on their historical World Cup success in Qatar for being the first African side to reach a semi-final. In Group F, Morocco will face the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, and Tanzania, striving to secure their first tournament victory since 1976. Despite that solo win, the Atlas Lions are one of the favourites to lift the trophy this time around.
Many fans will watch AFCON due to the number of African star players participating. The talent on the field guarantees viewers for broadcasters in Africa and across the globe. According to BeIn Sport, the AFCON 2021 final between Senegal and Egypt reached record-breaking figures, with over 120 million people tuning in to the Middle East-based broadcaster.
With just about three weeks to the start of the 2023 tournament, kick442 takes a look at the favourite teams to win next year’s tournament in Ivory Coast.
Seven African powerhouses have been tipped by kick442.com as the favourites to win the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, scheduled to kick off in Ivory Coast next year 13 January 2024.
Reigning Champions Senegal, Morocco, Egypt, Ivory Coast,Cameroon, Nigeria and Algeria have been tipped as the heavy favourites to win the 34th edition of the tournament but Elume Raymond believes the Fennec Foxes of Algeria could upset the big boys in the competition.
A team’s standing as a favourite at the AFCON can be affected by various factors. These include its current form as a team, the home team factor, the performance of individual players, and management.
Based on their current rankings and form, the following teams are considered AFCON favourites for the 2024 tournament:
Five-time AFCON winners, Cameroon are one of the continents most decorated nations.
Hosting the competition in 2021, the Indomitable Lions were agonisingly close to reaching an eighth AFCON final after suffering penalty heartbreak at the hands of Egypt in the semi-finals.
Rigobert Song’s side include many experienced faces, Manchester United goalkeeper Andre Onana the most notable. Goals were in limited supply for Cameroon during the qualification process but with Vincent Aboubakar, Bryan Mbeumo and Eric Choupo-Moting in attack, they possess players capable of executing chances.
Cameroon are one of the favourites to win AFCON 2023 but it’s not going to be an easy task for them at all. A look at their recent form gives mixed readings. They are a side that is strong at home and if this tournament was being held in Cameroon, we’d strongly fancy their chances of winning the title. However, on the road it’s a totally different story and unless their away form shows improvement in Ivory Coast, a sixth AFCON title currently looks unlikely to be achieved.
Cameroon last won an away game in June 2022 and since then have played nine games with two draws and seven defeats. Goals have been hard to come by in away fixtures with only four scored in those nine games and failing to score in six of them. There have been some low-scoring away fixtures with six ending in a 1-0 defeat for Cameroon. As we’ve said, improving their away form is an absolute must for them if they again want to go deep in AFCON. Reaching the last eight looks likely for Cameroon..
One of three teams to go unbeaten in qualification, Algeria will be looking to replicate their success of 2019 and win a third AFCON title.
Under the supervision of former Manchester City and Southampton midfielder Djamel Belmadi, the Fennec Foxes endured a miserable defence of their AFCON crown in 2021, picking up one point from three matches as they bowed out in the group stage.
Despite their disappointment in Cameroon and the failure to qualify for the 2022 World Cup, Algeria have only lost five matches in five years under Belmadi. They’ve kept eight clean sheets in their last 10 competitive fixtures and that resilience will be a key factor in their tournament progress.
Algeria poses a significant threat for the 2023 AFCON title with attacking talents such as Riyad Mahrez, Said Benrahma, and Houssem Aouar.
Vying for their first AFCON success since 2013 under the late Stephen Keshi, Nigeria’s squad is littered with attacking talent.
In Victor Osimhen, they possess one of the most prolific strikers in Europe last season. In Victor Boniface, they have one of the Bundesliga’s hottest prospects, excelling under Xabi Alonso at Bayer Leverkusen.
Add Taiwo Awoniyi, Samuel Chukwueze, Kelechi Iheanacho and Ademola Lookman into the offing, it comes as no surprise that the Super Eagles scored 22 goals in 6 qualifying matches.
Guided by José Peseiro, Nigeria will certainly provide entertainment in the tournament.
Nigeria is one of the most successful teams in African Cup of Nations history, with three titles. In recent years, the national team has seen significant contributions from players like Victor Osimhen.
The Nigerian team has all of the necessary components to emerge victorious from the African Cup of Nations. The Nigerian team are clear AFCON favourites for 2024.
Nigeria, paired alongside two-time AFCON winners and host nation, Ivory Coast, will kick off their campaign against Equatorial Guinea on January 14.
4. Côte d’Ivoire
Ivory Coast host their first AFCON since 1984 and the Elephants will be determined to make an impression in front of their home crowd.
Winners of the competition in 2015, the Ivorians have experienced a period of decline. Failing to qualify for the World Cup in both 2018 and 2022, they’ve endured similar disappointment in the Africa Cup of Nations, progressing beyond the Round of 16 only once in the last three tournaments.
Managed by Jean-Louis Gasset, there’s a promising blend of youth and experience within the squad. Sebastian Haller and Wilfried Zaha are pivotal features among the Ivorian attack, while 19-year-old defender Ousmane Diomande of Sporting Lisbon is a star in the making and one to keep a close eye on.
As the host country, Ivory Coast was granted automatic advancement to the championship round. In 2024, they might win the competition.
Morocco are Africa’s top dogs following their run at Qatar 2022 and, along with success across the youth, club and women’s game, is “perhaps in its best era”.
Their historic run at the 2022 World Cup inspired a continent and entertained the world.
Now Morocco look to follow up their successful campaign in Qatar by making a statement at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations.
The stalwarts of their World Cup semi-final run all remain, including Noussair Mazraoui, Achraf Hakimi, Hakim Ziyech, Sofyan Amrabat and Youssef En-Nesyri. In a camp brimming with confidence and with great squad depth throughout, expectation has certainly heightened for Walid Regragui’s men.
Morocco is in Group F of the competition alongside Tanzania, Zambia and Democratic Republic of Congo. The Atlas Lions’ first match in the tournament is scheduled for January 17 against Tanzania.
Moroccans are expecting a strong performance in the competition, especially following the team’s historic performances at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Having only qualified for the World Cup on three occasions, it can be a surprise to many that Egypt are the most successful nation in AFCON history.
Egypt expect to travel far in West Africa after losing two of the past three Afcon finals – against Cameroon (2017) and Senegal (2021) – after what were “distinguished technical performances”.
The Pharaohs were within touching distance of their eighth title in 2021, losing in the final to Senegal on penalties. It was an occasion famed for two Liverpool stars going head-to-head, as Sadio Mane’s winning spot-kick prolonged Mohamed Salah’s wait for a trophy with his country.
With Salah now 31, opportunities for him to get his hands on international silverware are getting slimmer. But with the forward at the peak of his powers for Liverpool this term, there’s hope that he can replicate Lionel Messi’s World Cup heroics and inspire Egypt to success in February.
Egypt is a legendary African Cup of Nations team with the most tournament trophies (7). Egypt has won the African Cup of Nations more times than any other nation.
Their fans are among the most loyal, and they have a rich history in the game. They will compete strongly in 2024.
After the anguish of finishing runner-up in 2019, Senegal finally got their hands on the Africa Cup of Nations trophy in 2021.
The Lions of Teranga came through the competition undefeated before beating Egypt on penalties in the final.
Aliou Cisse’s men followed up their AFCON triumph by advancing to the knockout stages of the 2022 World Cup, their progress in the tournament halted by England in the Round of 16.
Senegal boast an array of talent in all areas of the pitch, with the likes of Sadio Mané, Idrissa Gana Gueye, Kalidou Koulibaly and Edouard Mendy all key figures in their squad.
Senegal, the current champions and one of the strongest teams, will try to defend their title. Senegal is a frontrunner to win AFCON 2024 due to their previous success.
Senegal has a strong team and their roster features a healthy proportion of both young and seasoned players, with several members having previously competed in high-level competitions in Europe. Senegal is undeniably a side to keep an eye on for AFCON betting in 2024.
So the pressure is on for all the 24 countries taking part. Will Senegal retain the title and lift the trophy for the sec time, or will we see a new team crowned the African Cup of Nations? The tournament runs from January 13 to February 11 2024.
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