As football fans across the continent prepare for the knockout stage at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Cote d’Ivoire, the group stage of the competition served us with some highly attended games starting with the opening match between the host and Guinea Bissau at the Stade Olympique Alassane Ouattara, Ebimpe, Abidjan.
Other high profile games from Group A which comprised of Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, and Guinea Bissau attracted spectators to stadias probably as a result of the host.
From bottom to top, we take a look at the top five most attended games in the group stage of AFCON 2023.
5 Algeria vs Burkina Faso (33,501)
33,501 spectators witnessed an entertaining match at the Stade de la Paix, Bouake.
The attendees will absolutely be proud of their trip with four goals shared between the two teams in a thrilling encounter.
Baghdad Boundejah scored two goals for the Atlas Lions while Mohamed Konate and Betrand Traore’s penalty ensured that the game ended in a 2-2 draw.
The fact that Burkina Faso is a neighbouring country to host, Cote d’Ivoire might be responsible for the huge crowd presence.
The result also had impact on the final setting of Group D as Algeria crashed out of the group stage for second straight AFCON after winning the title in 2019.
4 Mauritania vs Angola (36,318)
Still in Group D, the match up between third appearance and surprise packaged Mauritania and Angola also attracted another huge crowd, this time with 36,318 spectators.
Fans were also thrilled to another thrilling goal fest as the game ended 3-2 in favour of Angola.
Highly attended games at AFCON 2023 have not been short of goals save for few.
Jacinto Dala, scored two goals coupled with one from Gilberto (also known as Deivi Miguel Vieira) lifted the Palacas Negras to an entertaining victory.
Goals from Sidi Amar and Abobakary Koita were not enough to prevent a loss for Mauritania.
3 Cote d’Ivoire vs Guinea Bissau (36,858)
Into the top three, we have the first match of the tournament which witnessed the presence of the number one President of world football, Gianni Infantino and his counterpart from Africa, Dr Patrice Motsepe.
The President of Cote d’Ivoire, Alassane Ouattara was also present as the host defeated Guinea Bissau 2-0 to start their campaign on a winning note.
Being the first match of the competition with the paparazzi and a colourful spectacle of dance, songs as well as light made up the bulk of the opening ceremony.
There also featured a performance of the theme song “Akwaba” – meaning “Welcome” in the Akan language – the official anthem of the AFCON, composed by the group Magic System, with the participation of Nigeria’s Yemi Alade and Egypt’s Mohamed Ramadan.
Goals from Mohamed Seko Fofana and Jean Philippe Krasso lifted the Elephants to victory over the Djurtus.
2 Equatorial Guinea vs Cote d’Ivoire (42,550)
In a game to be forgotten by fans of Cote d’Ivoire as the team ended their group campaign with a disappointing 4-0 loss to Equatorial Guinea with 42,550 fans watching the national disaster for the host nation.
The tournament leading goal scorer, Emilio Nsue scored two goals while Pablo Ganet, and Jannick Buyla converted a goal each for the Nzalang Nacional.
It was a bad day in the office for the Elephants as the result put the hope of the team hanging as far as qualification for the knockout stage was concerned.
In the end, Equatorial Guinea topped the group with seven points while Cote d’Ivoire also progressed as one of the best third placed teams.
1 Cote d’ivoire vs Nigeria (49,517)
The West African derby saw 49,517 watched the Super Eagles edging the Elephants 1-0 at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium.
William Troost-Ekong’s second-half penalty handed Nigeria a narrow 1-0 victory over Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) hosts Ivory Coast.
It was a first defeat for the Elephants in nine matches and a result that blowed Group A open with one fixture to go.
The attendance remained the highest at the competiton ahead of the knockout stages which promised to produce more thrilling games.
With Cote d’Ivoire’s clash with holders, Senegal already having a sign of breaking any of the above records, more spectators are expected at the venue of this year’s AFCON.
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