A soccer fan watching the Senegal team in the AFCON competition. The AFCON takes place in Ivory Coast of West Africa this year.
A soccer fan watching the Senegal team in the AFCON competition. The AFCON takes place in Ivory Coast of West Africa this year.
PRAYAGKUMAR PATEL ‘26

Where Culture Meets the Pitch

African Cup Predictions

History
After a long-awaited two years, the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) is finally here. The 2023 AFCON is the 34th edition of the tournament hosted on Ivory Coast in West Africa. Senegal, led by Kalidou Koulibaly, are the defending champions. The 2022 Senegal victory at the Paul Biya Omnisport Stadium in Cameroon created mass hype, especially since their team was star-studded with players like Sadio Mane, Kalidou Koulibaly, and Édouard Mendy.

Similarly, the AFC Asia Cup 2024 is running at the same time as AFCON.

The AFCON has been growing tremendously for the past decade because of all the young talent Africa has been producing. This year, competition will be very fierce, and no matter who wins or loses, it will be a memorable one.

Our Prediction – Nigeria
Nigeria, located in Western Africa, is known for its incredible players in the world of soccer (more commonly known as football). They were able to showcase their prowess, competing against the best players and teams across the world.

They also boast an impressive team, from players like Victor Osimhen (SSC Napoli – Italy), Victor Okoh Boniface (Bayern Leverkusen – Germany), Moses Simon (Nantes – France), Alex Iwobi (Fulham – England), while being in the safe hands of Olorunleke Ojo (Al-Hilal – Saudi Arabia)

The AFCON has been growing tremendously for the past decade because of all the young talent Africa has been producing. This year, competition will be very fierce, and no matter who wins or loses, it will be a memorable one.

These players each bring a unique skill set to the team, whether it be goal-scoring prowess, midfield creativity, or defensive solidity. Tactically, Nigeria has often employed a 3–4–2–1 (three defenders, four midfielders, three attackers). Although this formation allows the opposing team to play through the sides, it has proven to work as Nigeria has only lost once in the AFCON tournament.

Heading into the tournament, led by their manager Jose Peseiro, they rank #42 worldwide in FIFA rankings. They also rank sixth on the African continent. Currently, they are set to play in the quarter-final tournament. Nigeria’s soccer team, known as The Super Eagles, has previously won the tournament three times, in 1980, 1994, and 2013. If they win this tournament, they will also end a ten-year drought.

Close Second – Ivory Coast
Ivory Coast, also known as the Elephants, is a powerhouse in African football. They have won the African Cup of Nations twice, in 1992 and 2015. The team is known for its talented players, such as Wilfried Zaha, Nicolas Pepe, and Sébastien Haller.

Comparing Nigeria to Ivory Coast, both teams have their unique strengths. While Nigeria boasts tactical flexibility and a robust defense, Ivory Coast counters with a talented attack and a solid midfield. Their previous success and continuous growth have allowed them to rank at #49 on the FIFA rankings worldwide. This means that although they are not the favorites to win the tournament, they still have a good chance of making a deep run if they play the right moves and luck is in their favor.

Currently, Ivory Coast is third in their group and managed to get through to the knockout stages. Their start wasn’t as good as expected, but they have made a good run since then. They are currently getting ready to play Mali in the Quarter-Finals.

Ivory Coast has the potential to surprise many teams in the tournament. With a talented roster and a strong desire to win, they could make a deep run in the tournament. However, they will need to bring their A-game and avoid any costly mistakes if they want to make it to the final. They also have the advantage of home ground, as they will have fans to cheer them on but also pressure to win.

While Nigeria may be the favorite to win the tournament, Ivory Coast should not be underestimated. They have the talent and experience to make a deep run in the tournament, and they will be a tough opponent for any team they face.

Teams in AFCON:
Our predictions of leaders in each group:

The tournament starts with the group stage, where 24 qualified countries from Africa compete to advance. Only 16 make it to the next round. Shown above are our predictions for the group stage, with Blue indicating direct advancement & Orange indicating a possible second stage.
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