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AFCON 2023 Groups Preview: Group C & D

The 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (postponed from last year due to inclement weather during the original schedule) kicks off this coming weekend.


The 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (postponed from last year due to inclement weather during the original schedule) kicks off this coming weekend. The biennial tournament will run from 13 January to 11 February of this year, starting when Ivory Coast takes on Guinea-Bissau. 51 more games will follow as the best of the best on the continent battle it out to be crowned champions of Africa. We are in the middle of pre-tournament previews on all teams, continuing today with Group C & Group D.

Group C


Appearance: 21st

Best Finish: Champions (1984, 1988, 2000, 2002, 2017)

Only Egypt (7) has more AFCON titles than Cameroon, whose last triumph came under Hugo Broos seven years ago. They are seventh favourites for this particular event, with 11/1 odds to lift an eighth crown. According to Opta Analyst, Cameroon has a 34% chance of making it out of the Group, just behind defending champions Senegal. Their form leading up to the tournament is mixed, with just two wins in nine games played in the last year. Yet, they have lost only one of their last 14 group games at AFCON.

Key players: Andre Onana, Vincent Aboubakar, Zambo Anguissa


Appearance: 2nd

Best Finish: Quarter-Finals 2021

The least experienced of the sides at AFCON are only featuring in their second tournament. They were the surprise package in 2021, winning many hearts in Cameroon by reaching the quarter-finals in their first-ever appearance. At 126th in the world (35th in Africa), they are the lowest-ranked team in the entire tournament. Another heartwarming run may be on the cards, but the numbers are not promising as Opta supercomputer gives them a 40% chance of making the Last 16.

Key Players: A. Ceesay, M. Barrow, O. Colley


Appearance: 14th

Best Finish: Runners-up (1976)

After missing out on the 2017 finals, the National Elephants have suffered back-to-back exits in the Round of 16. These are somewhat underwhelming returns for Guinea’s “Golden Generation”, who know that the likes of Naby Keita will not be around forever. The 2019 exit came at the hands of eventual winners Algeria, so that is understandable. But losing out to tournament debutants Gambia at the same stage in 2021 came as a shock. However, they get a chance to avenge that defeat when the sides meet on 19 January. That could be a key game for Last 16 qualification.

Key Player(s): Naby Keita, Mohamed Bayo, Sehour Guirassy


Appearance: 17th

Best Finish: Champions (2021)

This group is completed by defending champions Senegal, who will be looking to defend the title they won in 2021. They are many bookmakers’ favourites (in some cases 2nd favourites) to lift consecutive titles, although no team has done that since Egypt in 2010 (three titles in a row). The Lions of Teranga are loaded with players from the top leagues, although captain Sadio Mane remains the main star. His goal threat is well known, but he can also create chances for other teammates from his favored right wing. They are given a 47% chance of winning the group and a 22% chance of reaching the final by Opta.

Key Player(s): Sadio Mane, Kalidou Koulibaly, Boulaye Dia

Group D


    Appearance: 20th

    Best Finish: Champions (1990, 2019)

    Algeria were the only side without defeat during qualification, winning five games and drawing only their final qualifier against Tanzania. How much that matters in the finals remains to be seen, but they are also heavily favoured to win their group too. Opta’s supercomputer gives them a 58% chance of topping the group, which is the highest of any team at the tournament. After their group stage exit in 2021, the Dessert Foxes will be keen to change that narrative. And with players like Riyad Mahrez in their latter years, this could be another golden opportunity.

    Key Player(s): Riyad Mahrez, Sofiane Feghouli, Ismail Bennacer


    Appearance: 9th

    Best Finish: Quarter-finals (2008, 2010)

    After five consecutive qualifications between 2006 and 2013, Angola have only qualified for one of the last four editions. Even when they qualified in 2019, they scored one goal on their way to a Group stage exit. They are given a 52% chance to reach the Last 16, but that may have to be through the alternate route – finishing as one of the better 3rd-placed teams. Their form over the last 12 months has not inspired confidence, with a solitary win in 10 games (W1 D7 D2 excl. COSAFA Cup). Most worryingly, each of their last four games have ended 0-0. That will have to change (positively) if they are to progress.

    Key Player(s): Jérémie Bela, Buatu, Fredy

    Burkina Faso

    Appearance: 13th

    Best Finish: Runners-Up (2013)

    The Stallions are familiar faces at AFCON, missing out on just one of the last eight tournaments. Overall, they have been to more AFCONs than both Mali and Bafana Bafana, and their 2013 run remains one of the most memorable in recent years. The Burkinabe were the winners in a very competitive group on their way to qualifying for the tournament and have been assigned a 70% chance of progressing to the Last 16. Opening against Mauritania is probably the best draw they could ask for, but the Algeria game will show us just how far they can go.

    Key Player(s): Bertrand Traore, Dango Outarra


    Appearance: 3rd

    Best Finish: Group stage (2019, 2021)

    A 2-1 win over Aubameyang’s Gabon may have secured their ticket to a third consecutive AFCON tournament, but they were impressive in the final rounds of qualifying. Now, they are looking to improve on their first two appearances. They were bottom of their groups in both 2019 and 2021, although the 2019 results (P3 W0 D2 L1) were much better than 2021 (P3 W0 D0 L3). The Lions of Chinguetti now have enough experience to navigate the Group stages better, and according to Opta, their 51.8% chance of reaching the Last 16 is slightly higher than Angola’s 51.5%. 

    Key Player(s): Hemeya Tanji, Aboubakar Kamara

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