In what promises to be an electrifying display of skill, strength, and passion, the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) is set to return in 2024 with 24 powerhouse teams ready to compete for continental glory.
A total of 24 teams will be looking successfully navigated the gruelling qualification process to earn their spot in Ivory Coast, where the tournament is scheduled to run from January 13th to February 11th.
In Group A, Nigeria and Guinea-Bissau have both secured their spots, with their advancement to the next stage assured as they have only one game left to play. Similarly, Burkina Faso and Cape Verde from Group B have already qualified for the next round, and their progression is certain.
Group C is a closely contested battleground, with Namibia, Cameroon, and Burundi separated by only one point. In Group D, Egypt and Guinea have effortlessly secured their positions, and with one more match to go, it is impossible for them not to advance.
Group E remains a tightly contested race, with only a two-point difference between the top team, Ghana, and the third-placed Central African Republic. Group F sees Algeria comfortably leading the pack, while Tanzania, in second place, is only three points ahead of third-placed Uganda.
In Group G, Mali has already qualified, but Gambia and Congo are locked in a battle for the remaining spot, separated by just three points. Group H sees Zambia and Ivory Coast safely through, with their progression to the next stage guaranteed. Group I is yet to be decided, with DR Congo, Mauritania, and Gabon all vying for qualification. In Group J, Equatorial Guinea and Tunisia have solidified their positions, and with one game left, they are assured of moving forward.
Group K has both South Africa and Morocco qualified, with just one point separating them as they compete for the top spot. In Group L, Senegal has already secured their place, and with one game remaining, their advancement is guaranteed. Mozambique sits in second place, with Benin trailing by just two points.
Among these nations, some stand out as favourites, showcasing the rich footballing talent that the African continent has to offer.
The Best of the Best:
Senegal (Defending Champions)
The Lions of Teranga are the reigning champions, having claimed their first AFCON title in 2019. With a squad boasting the likes of Sadio Mané and Kalidou Koulibaly, Senegal is determined to defend their crown and continue their dominance in African football.
The Pharaohs have a storied history in AFCON, with a record seven titles to their name. Led by the incomparable Mohamed Salah, Egypt is always a team to watch out for. Their attacking prowess and solid defence make them strong contenders.
The Super Eagles are known for their flair and style of play. With a mix of experienced veterans and young talents, like Serie A 22/23 top goal scorer Victor Osimhen. Nigeria aims to recapture the glory they enjoyed in the past, having won the tournament three times.
The Atlas Lions have been a consistent force in recent years. With a well-organized defence and creative midfield, Morocco is a team capable of going all the way.
Ivory Coast (Hosts)
As the host nation, Ivory Coast carries the weight of expectations. The Elephants are a formidable team with a rich AFCON history. With a roster featuring Wilfried Zaha and Nicolas Pépé, Ivory Coast will aim to utilize home advantage and reclaim the title.
The Indomitable Lions are no strangers to success, having won the tournament five times.
The Black Stars have been perennial contenders, coming close to victory on numerous occasions. Led by seasoned players like Andre Ayew, Ghana’s blend of experience and youth can pose a significant threat.
The Desert Foxes are the reigning African champions, having won the 2019 AFCON. With Riyad Mahrez as their talisman, Algeria has the potential to repeat its success.
These are just a few of the standout teams set to grace the AFCON 2024 stage. However, the beauty of this tournament lies in its unpredictability. Underdogs can rise, and favourites can fall, making every match a captivating spectacle for football fans worldwide.
As the 13th of January approaches, anticipation is building for the 33rd edition of the Africa Cup of Nations. With passionate fans, world-class players, and the thrill of competition, AFCON 2023 promises to be a celebration of African football at its finest. Mark your calendars and get ready for a month of intense action, as these 24 teams vie for the prestigious title of African champions.
Mohamed Salah: Getty Images
Victor Osimhen: BackpagePix
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