AFCON 2023: The tale of death and dark horses in Groups C & D

Having previewed the first two groups of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) comprising of the likes of hosts Ivory Coast as well as Nigeria, Egypt and Ghana, this writer previews groups C and D which is sure to pull up more surprises.

Group C: Senegal, Cameroon, Guinea and The Gambia


Mane Senegal AFCON

Group C is considered the group of death and Senegal are the current AFCON champions, as well as winners of the African Nations Championship (CHAN), organised for locally based players.

The Lions of Teranga’s credential is strengthened by one of their biggest results in 2023 when they defeated five-time world champions Brazil 4-2 in a friendly back in June, making it two games they have avoided defeat against the South American giants.

Senegal has a squad brimming with excellent players, notably Sadio Mane (Al-Nassr), captain Kalidou Koulibaly (Al-Hilal), and Nicolas Jackson (Chelsea) and are an automatic choice for qualification for the knockout stages.


Cameroon AFCON

With five finals victories, the Indomitable Lions are a force to reckon with, having defeated Brazil at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar from open play (the only African team to do so). They were 2017 AFCON champions in Gabon but finished third the last time out as hosts. Goalie Andre Onana (Manchester United) and captain Vincent Aboubakar (Besiktas) are the key men who will hope to bring the Lions glory.


Naby Keita AFCON

The presence of Guinea in this group should be a cause for concern for the aforementioned duo. The National Elephants were runners-up at the 1976 AFCON in Morocco and are managed by ex-Arsenal striker Kaba Diawara. The prolific forward Serhou Guirassy (Stuttgart) is having a great season in the Bundesliga. Also, skipper Naby Keita (Werder Bremen), Mouctar Diakhaby (Valencia), and Morgan Guilavogui (RC Lens, younger brother of French player Josuha) will try for the downfall of one of the two giants.

The Gambia

The Gambia AFCON

The Gambia is expected to offer the least resistance in this group; they were debutants at the last AFCON in Cameroon. The Scorpions were banned by CAF a decade ago for age falsification of their players but returned to AFCON qualifying in 2019. Yet, they beat Mali and took a point off Congo. Musa Barrow (Bologna) and youngster Yankuba Minteh (Feyenoord) will bring some firepower to the event for the tiny West African country.

Prediction: Senegal, Cameroon, and Guinea.

Group D: Algeria, Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Angola


Algeria AFCON

Like the 2023 AFCON hosts, the Fennec Foxes of Algeria have also been two-time champions. Their first victory came as hosts in 1990 in a sweet revenge final match over Nigeria while they were champions again at the penultimate event in Egypt in 2019. The Desert Warriors have plenty of international experience and are one of Africa’s best football nations. Said Benrahma (West Ham United), Rayan Ait-Nouri (Wolverhampton Wanderers), and captain Riyad Mahrez (Al Ahli) will lead the charge for domination in this group for the Foxes.

Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso AFCON

Burkina Faso have considerable experience at the AFCON with seven appearances. The Stallions reached the last four at the last event as hosts in 1998 and also finished third at the Ghana-Nigeria 2000 event but notably lost the final match at the 2013 edition in South Africa to the Super Eagles. Thus, they will not be brushed aside easily.


Mauritania AFCON

Mauritania are the dark horses of this group. The Lions of Chinguetti beat Sudan (away) and Gabon to reach this AFCON and will be appearing for only the third time. They finished bottom of their group on their debut in 2019 and again in 2021. Thus, they will offer little resistance to the progress of the first two nations.


Angola AFCON

Unlike the Mauritanians, the Black Antelopes have World Cup experience (2006) and made their first AFCON appearance in 1996. They were quarter-finalists at the 2008 edition in Ghana, losing to would-be champions Egypt. Helder Costa (Leeds United) and Gelson Dala (Al-Wakrah) will aim to provide the goals to catapult Angola out of this group.

Prediction: Algeria, Angola, and Burkina Faso.


Watch out for the final AFCON 2023 group preview next week, exploring groups E and F.

Mac Akin Ajayi

Writer & Blogger

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