5 Bold Predictions for AFCON 2023


AFCON 2023 gets underway this weekend, but what are the 5 bold predictions that we’re making for this tournament?

We love making bold predictions, as although they’re unlikely to all happen, it is fun to speculate on what will could come true. We’ve made bold predictions for Euro 2024 and this season’s Premier League, so check those out if you haven’t already.

So, with the 2023 African Cup of Nations underway in the Ivory Coast, we’re going all in with five bold predictions that we think come come true in a month’s time.

5 Bold Predictions for AFCON 2023

The African Cup of Nations is the continent-wide international tournament for national teams in Africa. The tournament, like the Asian Games, has been controversial for European football fans, as it takes place mid-way through their seasons.

However, what isn’t in doubt is how big of a deal AFCON is to African football fans and players take huge pride in representing their countries during it. AFCON 2023 has been delayed by half a year due to the weather conditions in the Ivory Coast in summer being too adverse for football.

Image credit: International Football academy in Spain
Image credit: International Football academy in Spain

We’ll begin our predictions with the hosts of this tournament, as despite having the home advantage, we don’t think they’ll pull up too many trees. Les Éléphants are only top seeds in their group thanks to being hosts, otherwise they’d have been in Pot 2.

The Ivorians are traditional underachievers at AFCON, only winning the tournament once during their golden generation with the likes of Didier Drogba, Yaya Toure and Kolo Toure in their ranks. Aside from Franck Kessie and Sebastian Haller, there are no truly quality players in their ranks, and even those two are debatable.

Ivory Coast will make it out of their group, Equatorial Guinea and Guinea-Bissau aren’t enough to stop them, but the hosts will do well to make it to even the quarter finals, depending on who they get in the knockout bracket.

#2 – Nigeria to go deep into the tournament

Like the Ivory Coast, the Nigerian National Football Team have had a really rotten run in recent years. The Super Eagles always represented Africa at the FIFA World Cup, but missed out in 2022 after failing to qualify.

At AFCON 2021, Nigeria crashed out in the Round of 16 to Tunisia, but we’re backing them to have a much better tournament this year. Nigeria are in the same group as the Ivory Coast and we think they’ll have enough to top the group heading into the knockouts.

Image credit: Goal.com

While the Ivory Coast don’t have any superstars in their ranks, Nigeria most definitely do in the form of Victor Osimhen. Osimhen controversially missed out in 2021, but he’s undoubtedly one of the players to watch in AFCON 2023.

Osimhen is the kind of player that can inspire his side to a deep run into the tournament, like Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane did for Egypt and Senegal in 2021. While we won’t rule out Nigeria lifting the trophy for the fourth occasion, a run to the semi-finals will be more likely.

#3 – DR Congo to be the surprise team

Every international tournament has at least one team that comes out of nowhere for a deep run into the knockout stages. In AFCON 2021, it was The Gambia, who made it all the way to the quarter-finals and Burkina Faso who made the semi-finals.

After not qualifying in 2021, we’re predicting the Democratic Republic of the Congo to be back with a bang at AFCON 2023.

Image credit: Sky Sports

We’re basing this on a few factors, one of them being that the West African climate of the Ivory Coast will suit the Congolese players. The other factor is that DR Congo are historic underachievers on the international stage given their population size.

The Leopards might’ve won AFCON twice, but the last time that happened was half a century ago in 1974. As a Pot 2 side, they’re expected to make the knockout stage and they could well tear up the form book once again like they did on their run to third place in 2015.

#4 – Senegal to crash out

This is probably the boldest of all our predictions. Admittedly, there’s not a lot of logic to this one, as defending champions Senegal will defend their crown as the second-highest ranked team in the tournament.

However, it is fair to say that Sadio Mane is not the force that he was a couple of seasons ago, now plying his trade in Saudi Arabia rather than at Anfield. The Lions of Teranga also looked distinctly average when they were eliminated from the 2022 World Cup by a score of 3-0 against England just over 12 months ago.

Image credit: Daily Sabah

Mane is still one of the best players at the tournament, but Senegal will need to lean on their other players to mount a successful title defence. There are other forwards such as Sarr, Ndiaye and Jackson who can have an impact, but you wouldn’t hang your hat on them doing so.

Furthermore, at the back, Senegal are far from solid, with Kalidou Koulibaly their best defender, and Edouard Mendy between the sticks.

Senegal will make the knockouts, but beyond that, we’re not too confident. Defending champions don’t always have the best of times at AFCON, just ask Algeria last time out, who finished bottom of their group!

#5 – Egypt to become Kings of Africa

Our heads are telling us to back Morocco to win AFCON 2023, especially after they became the first African side to reach the semi-finals of the World Cup in 2022, but our hearts are backing Egypt. The Pharaohs have won AFCON more than any other nation, with seven titles to their name.

Egypt haven’t taken the trophy back to Cairo since 2010, though, their longest dry spell since the 1980s. It would also be a fary tale story for Mohamed Salah, who has consistently been one of, if not the, best player in the Premier League for Liverpool over the past seven seasons.

Image credit: Arab News

Couple that with Egypt coming so close in the final last time, losing on penalties to Senegal, and there’s a real case of The Pharaohs being on a mission to rule the continent once again.

With a team mostly made up of domestically-based players, there’s a real togetherness about Egypt and with Salah in their ranks, they’ve got every chance of beating all who stand before them.

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