2023 AFCON Preview: Can Morocco Make More History In Ivory Coast?

Published on 12 January 2024 at 20:00

The 2023 Africa Cup of Nations takes place over the next month, and the continent's footballing powerhouses like defending champions Senegal, firm favourites Morocco, and the competition's most dominant country Egypt, will be making their way to the Ivory Coast for this year's competition, the 34th in its illustrious history.

Fans can expect to see a host of the world's best players compete over the next month, including Egypt's in-form talisman Mo Salah, Nigeria's prized player Victor Osimhen, and Ah Ahli winger and Algeria captain Riyad Mahrez. Eagle eyed fans will also see a couple of familiar faces in the dugouts of Ghana and Zambia, as Premier League managerial alumni Chris Hughton and Avram Grant take charge respectively.


Off the back of their monumental World Cup campaign in Qatar, where they reached the Semi-Finals (a first time feat for an African nation), Morocco head into the tournament as the favourites to win it all for the second time. Having already won the competition back in 1976, the Atlas Lions are set to host the 2025 edition of the tournament, and will be keen to enter as reigning and defending champions. 


Host nation Ivory Coast and the ever-fancied Nigeria have been drawn together in Group A: with both countries finding their footing after a difficult few years on the international and continental stage, they make the entire tournament a very open affair. Expect the star men Sebastien Haller and Victor Osimhen to be amongst the tournament's top goalscorers, if not the very top two. 


Read More: 2023 Asian Cup Preview: Who Will Win In Qatar?


2021 finalists Senegal and Egypt both return to the AFCON chasing further glory: Egypt's Mo Salah was unusually quiet in the previous final, but he has been in fine form for Liverpool this season and will be the player to watch of the entire event. Sadio Mane meanwhile is looking like a player in a steep decline compared to his former Liverpool teammate. Now a firm fixture for Al-Nassr in Saudi Arabia, the AFCON may just be the 31-year-old's last chance at major glory in his playing career. 


This year's AFCON affords one player the opportunity to further entrench his name in the annals of African footballing history: Riyad Mahrez and Algeria, who won the tournament back in 2019, may not be as favoured as the likes of Morocco and Senegal, but their past tournament experience and the pure talent of the talismanic Mahrez could propel to glory once again. Cementing his legacy alongside the other African greats like George Weah, Didier Drogba and Samuel Eto'o, Mahrez has the chance to truly ascend to legendary status if Algeria were to win this year's Africa Cup of Nations.


Who do YOU think will win the 2023 AFCON? Let us know your winner and who you think will do well over on all our official social media channels today!


By Jaspar Shepherdson

(@jasparshepmedia on X/Twitter and Instagram)


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