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2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) Key Details





The Premier League’s Serge Aurier, Ibrahim Sangare, Simon Adingra, and former Crystal Palace player Wilfried Zaha are all available for the hosts Ivory Coast, but they have been drawn with Nigeria in a difficult Group A. The Super Eagles’ star is Victor Osimhen of Napoli; other options include Fulham’s Alex Iwobi, Leicester’s Kelechi Iheanacho, and AC Milan’s Samuel Chukwueze.

Group B’s participants are Egypt and Ghana. The undoubted star and captain of the Pharaohs is Mo Salah, but despite their record seven-time victory and their ability to reach the 2022 final, the team is pragmatic and finds it difficult to fully utilize the Liverpool forward’s many talents. Under the direction of former Brighton manager Chris Hughton, the Black Stars feature Iñaki Williams of Athletic Bilbao and Mohamed Kudus, a forward for West Ham.

Defending champions Senegal is in Group C with Cameroon, whom Andre Onana, the goalkeeper for Manchester United, is leaving Old Trafford for. Sadio Mane, the captain of Senegal, will be motivated to win the Lions of Teranga’s second AFCON title.

Group D is led by Algeria, whose captain Riyad Mahrez is looking to extend their winning streak from 2019. Roma’s Houssem Aouar possesses the skill to do that as well. Many will be rooting for Mauritania, the underdogs, to pull off an upset, particularly in a competition where David routinely defeats Goliath.

Group E, which includes Namibia, South Africa, Mali, and Tunisia, is arguably the most evenly matched pool of the first round since all four countries can steal points from one another. Morocco will try to use its incredible run to the World Cup semifinals as motivation for another AFCON trophy in Group F. Achraf Hakimi is the star of a defense that also features Noussair Mazraoui of Bayern Munich and Nayef Aguerd of West Ham, with Walid Regragui in the dugout providing excellent coaching.

All the latest AFCON 2023 news

Teams are starting to reveal their finals squads. Walid Regragui, the manager of Morocco, has named a strong team that includes former Chelsea forward Hakim Ziyech, Manchester United loanee Sofyan Amrabat, West Ham center-back Nayef Aguerd, and PSG star Achraf Hakimi.

Supporter of the hemlè fighting spirit, Rigobert Song, has announced his provisional 27-man strong team for Cameroon, who are vying for their sixth AFCON championship. Karl Toko-Ekambi, a forward, and Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa of Napoli are in form, while Vincent Aboubakar, who led the team in scoring in 2021, is back. Goalie Andre Onana, who plays for Manchester United against Tottenham on Sunday, January 14, will report to the team just twenty-four hours before they take on Guinea.

West Ham’s Said Benrahma was unexpectedly left off of Algeria’s final squad, having been cut from coach Djamel Belmadi’s initial plans. Ismael Bennacer of Milan, on the other hand, has cut despite having knee surgery in May and just recently getting back to full fitness.

Thomas Partey was not chosen by Chris Hughton, who also revealed Ghana’s provisional squad. Although the midfielder for Arsenal is injured, he was on the Black Stars’ initial 55-man roster earlier in the month. Inaki Williams, a forward for Athletic Bilbao, will enter the competition as his nation’s most effective striker.

The tournament’s prize money has also been announced to be increased by 40%. Winners of AFCON 2023 will take home $7 million, followed by runner-ups at $4 million and semi-finalists at $2.5 million each.

Ivory Coast, the tournament hosts, look strong heading into the competition after thrashing Sierra Leone 5-1 in an AFCON 2023 warm-up on Saturday. Franck Kessie, a former midfielder for Barcelona, was one of the Elephants’ goal scorers.

The top players to watch for in the AFCON 2023

Nigeria striker Victor Osimhen will be highlighted in AFCON 2023 as the landmass’ recently delegated Footballer of the Year. The 24-year-old forward was awarded the CAF award in mid-December to commemorate the 26 league goals he scored as the Little Donkeys won a storied Scudetto after he helped end Napoli’s 33-year wait for a Serie A championship. Osimhen, who became the first Nigerian to win the trophy since Nwankwo Kanu of Arsenal in 1999, will be driven to lead the Super Eagles to their fourth and first AFCON championship in a decade.

Achraf Hakimi contributed a helping hand to Morocco’s 3-0 victory over Libya in October, which was their last qualifying victory. He will once more be a key component of the Atlas Lions’ offensive strategy. The PSG right-back, who was born in Madrid, Spain, began his career at Real Madrid before blossoming into one of the best full-backs in the world in the French capital. At the most recent continental awards, he was selected for the CAF Team of the Year.

Even though Sadio Mane’s first AFCON title was won by Senegal in 2022 after a difficult few seasons, the former Liverpool forward still has a deep love for playing for his nation. The 31-year-old, who won the 2023 Arab Club Champions Cup, is currently Cristiano Ronaldo’s teammate at Al Nassr in Saudi Arabia after a disappointing stint at Bayern Munich. Meanwhile, fellow countryman Nico Jackson is also going through a difficult time. In the Chelsea team’s 2-1 Christmas Eve loss to Wolves, the forward was jeered off the field by his own supporters.

Mohammed Kudus, a graduate of the Right to Dream academy, has been playing brilliantly for West Ham during the holiday season. The 23-year-old Ghanaian is among the Hammers’ top scorers this season with 10 goals across all competitions. He excels when cutting inside from the right wing onto his stronger left foot.

Mo Salah scored two goals and missed a penalty as Liverpool defeated Newcastle 4-2 to cap off his Premier League career. The Egyptian King might still play in the FA Cup against Arsenal, but Pharaoh supporters will be hoping that the 12-goal forward can carry over his excellent play to his homeland and win an unprecedented eighth AFCON title.

Azzedine Ounahi, an Algerian midfielder, is a great option if you’re looking to support a younger, up-and-coming player. The Marseille playmaker, who is still only 23 years old, has been lighting up Ligue 1 for several seasons with his exquisite technique and passing sense.

Is there a new match ball for AFCON 2023?

There is, and it’s a visually appealing Puma model. Umbro’s sponsorship of AFCON 2023 has been taken over by the German sportswear manufacturer.

The Puma Pokou is named after the renowned Ivorian football player Laurent Pokou, who set an AFCON record in 1970 by scoring five goals in a single game. It has an intricate panel selection that helps maintain a true flight and the Ivorian flag’s colors.

Who will be the AFCON 2023 mascot?

Given how closely associated the Ivory Coast is with elephants, it should come as no surprise that Akwaba, an anthropomorphic mammal with a heavy trunk, is the AFCON 2023 mascot.

The official blurb states that the name of the emblem is “a word derived from a local Ivorian language meaning ‘welcome'” and that it symbolizes the nation’s famous pachyderm.

It continues the legacy of previous mascots, which typically portrayed the most well-known animal or landmark of the host nation, such as lions or pharaohs, dressed in national colors. The only exception was Senegal’s Diambar in 1992, which featured a lion (good) giving an unnecessary thumbs up (unnecessary) while having the body of an Adidas Tango football (weird).

What is the 2023 AFCON official song?

The official AFCON 2023 song, also known as Akwaba (because who doesn’t love a little continuity between mascots and ditties? ), is a lively pop hit that will definitely quicken hearts and spark excitement for the competition.

Produced by the renowned Ivorian art pop group Magic System, award-winning Nigerian Afrobeats artist Yemi Alade, and Egyptian singer Mohamed Ramadan, with Dany Synthe handling production duties under the Universal Music Africa label, the song features a positive message of unity, optimism, and the warm welcome that the African continent will undoubtedly receive in the capital city of Abidjan and beyond.

Spending three minutes and forty-nine seconds listening to it is highly recommended.

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