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AFCON 2024 Preview: Favourites and teams to watch

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The Africa Cup of Nations, Africa’s most prestigious men’s football tournament, gets underway on January 13th 2024. Hosted by Ivory Coast, the 34th edition of the tournament will see defending Champions Senegal jostle to retain the trophy alongside 23 other teams. In this AFCON 2024 preview, we have looked at the favourites, dark horses and teams to watch in this year’s tournament. This will not only wet your appetite and prepare you for the thrills and intrigues of African football, it will also serve as a guide for all your AFCON betting tips.

AFCON 2024 GROUP STAGE PREVIEW

There are 24 teams taking part in the AFCON 2024 Tournament. They are divided into 6 groups with 4 teams each as shown below.

Group A – Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea and Guinea Bissau

AFCON-Group-A

Ivory Coast

For Ivory Coast, this will be their 25th appearance in this competition having made their debut in 1965. They will be hunting for a 3rd title following previous success recorded in 1992 and 2015 when they beat the Black Stars of Ghana via penalty shootout. The Elephants as they are fondly called will be banking on the on field quality of players like Sebastian Haller, Serge Aurier, Max Gradel, Willy Boly among others. They will also be counting on the home crowd to push them all the way.

Nigeria

The Super Eagles are three time winners of the competition. They earned their first title back in 1980 when they beat Algeria 3-0 with Segun Odegbami and Christian Chukwu finishing as top scorer and player of the tournament respectively. In 1994, they won a second title with Rashidi Yekini propelling the team to glory, ranking 5th best team in the world and making a debut at the FIFA world Cup hosted by the USA. The last triumph came over a decade ago when the late Stephen Keshi made history winning the trophy as a coach and player, guiding the Eagles to victory in 2013. Since then, the title has remained elusive while the Eagles have yet to find a suitable manager and playing system that will help them replicate the previous years of success. They only managed a 3rd finish in 2013 and crashed out in the round of 16 stage at the last edition. Here, they will be banking on a combination of experience and goal scoring prowess of Osimhen and co to bring back the glory days.

Guinea Bissau

They will be appearing at the AFCON for the 4th time having made their debut in 2017. Here, they have a huge hurdle to climb as they look to earn a first Knockout phase ticket in the competition.

Equatorial Guinea

Los Elefantes made their first two appearances in the tournament as hosts, both in 2012 and 2015. They earned a quarter final place in 2012 and went on to finish 4th in 2015. They will be looking to surpass that feat in the 2024 edition.
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Group B – Egypt, Ghana, Cape Verde and Mozambique

This group has 7 time winners Pharaohs of Egypt, 4 time Champions, the Black Stars of Ghana, Cape Verde and Mozambique.
AFCON Group B

Egypt

The Pharaohs are the most successful teams in the tournament. They won the maiden edition in 1957, going on to clinch the title again in 1959, 1986, 1998, 2006, 2008 and 2010. They were the first African side to feature at the World Cup and former Goalkeeper Essam El Hadary is the oldest player to have featured at the World Cup. Since winning the AFCOn in 2010, they have only managed two second place finishes in 2017 and 2021. Hence, they will be looking for a first title in 14 years.

Ghana

The black stars of Ghana were winners in 1963, 65, 78 and 1982. At the last edition, they were dumped out at the Group Stage. They haven’t been able to earn previous successes and would be looking to re-establish themselves this around.

Cape Verde

They will be making their 4th appearance at the mundial having appeared previously in 2013(Quarter Finals) , 2015 (Group Stage) and 2021 (last 16). This is a very difficult group for them and may be backing themselves to earn of the best losers slot.

Mozambique

They might be seen as the minnows of this group given that they have only managed 3 previous appearances all of which ended in group stage exit.
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Group C – Senegal, Cameroon, Guinea, Gambia

Senegal, Cameroon, Guinea and Gambia all make up the group.
AFCON Group C

Senegal

The Terenga Lions are the current champions. They won the tournament for the first time at the last edition, beating Cameroon in the final. Prior to that, they earned a second place finish in 2019 and 2002. They have earned a place as one of the top footballing nations in Africa having booked a Quarter Final place at the World Cup in 2002, joining the likes of Ghana, Cameroon, Morocco as the only African side to book a last 8 slot at the Global showpiece.

Cameroon

The Indomitable Lions have always been a powerhouse in African football. The heroics of Roger Miller at the Italian 90 World Cup and Samuel Etoo’s brilliance during his playing days have helped cement Cameroon status as a top footballing nation. They have won the AFCOn five times, a record only bettered by Egypt’s 7 trophies, finishing third at the last edition. Here, they will be gunning for a 6th trophy.

Guinea

Their best AFCON performance came in 1976 when they finished as runners up. Since then, they have earned 4 quarter final berths and a round of 16 place. They have a huge mountain to climb here given the history and quality of Senegal and Cameroon.

Gambia

They shocked many football enthusiasts at the last edition, earning a Quarter Final slot in what was their first official appearance at the tournament. As they make their second appearance at the mundial, they will hope to replicate or even better the previous edition.
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Group D – Algeria, Burkina Faso, Angola, Mauritania

Group D has Algeria, Burkina Faso, Angola and Mauritania.
AFCON Group D

Algeria

The desert foxes are two time champions winning the AFCON in 1990 and 2019. The North Africans have an array of stars including Riyadh Mahrez and Islam Slimani, who would both be looking to lay their hands on the trophy again before possibly saying goodbye to international football.

Burkina Faso

The chase for a first continental title continues here. Their best finish at the tournament was reaching the final in 2013 when they were beaten 1-0 by Nigeria. The Stallions finished fourth last time, losing the third place match to Cameroon. They will hope to scale the hurdle this time and make another push for the somewhat elusive title.

Mauritania

They made their AFCON debut in 2019 and made a consecutive appearance in 2021. They have not made it past the group stage and will be hoping to break that jinx in this edition of the competition.

Angola

They are making a return to the competition having missed out on the last one. They have not really had much success here, only making the Quarter final slot in 2008 and 2010.
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Group E – Tunisia, Mali, South Africa, Namibia

Tunisia, Mali, South Africa, and Namibia make up this Group.
AFCON Group E

Tunisia

The Carthage Eagles will be making their 21st appearance at the AFCON. They won their first title in 2004 and have only managed a quarter final berths since that time. Can they scale the hurdle this time?

Mali

Their best performance came in 1972, when they finished as runners up. Mali are yet to maximise their talents towards being a force to reckon with in African football. they will hope to make it happen this time.

South Africa

They won their first title as hosts in 1996. Since then, they finished runners up, and earned 2 other quarter final places. They failed to qualify for the last edition and will be hoping to make a triumphant return here.

Namibia

They are debutants here and will be hoping to make a big statement in this very unpredictable group.
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Group F – Morocco, DR Congo, Zambia, Tanzania

Morocco, DR Congo, Zambia and Tanzania make up this group.
AFCON Group F

Morocco

The Atlas Lions will be looking to build on their performance at the World Cup in Qatar. In that tournament, Yacine Bono helped his team earn a semi final place, the first of an African side at the World Cup, beating Portugal and Belgium on the road to the last four. They have only won the AFCON once back in 1976. Based on current form and indices, they look to be in a good position to clinch their second African title.

DR Congo

As DR Congo, they have won bronze medals 3 times while as Zaire, they won the tournament in 1974. They also won in 1968 while playing as Congo-Kinshasa. They finished 3rd in 2015, got to the quarter final in 2017, round of 16 in 2019 and failed to qualify in 2021.

Zambia

They won their first and only title in 2012 and will be making a first appearance in the competition since failing to get past the group stage in 2015. Asides from the Moroccans, the Zambians might have a chance here.

Tanzania

This is their second appearance at the AFCON having made a debut back in 2019. They are seen as inexperienced and might be the whooping boys of the group.

Favourites for the AFCON 2024

Having looked at various teams and their group, we have come up with the following sides as the team to watch and favorite to win the tournament.

  • Morocco
  • Senegal
  • Egypt

Teams to watch

  • Algeria
  • Nigeria
  • Cameroon
  • Ghana

Dark Horses

  • Mali
  • Burkina Faso
  • Guinea

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