The 2023 Africa Cup of Nations is scheduled to begin in Ivory Coast on January 13.
Originally planned for the previous summer to prevent overlap with European leagues, the tournament was postponed due to concerns about the potentially harsh weather conditions in Ivory Coast during that season. The West and Central African tropical rainy season typically reaches its highest intensity around June or July.
In January, temperatures tend to be in the high 20s, which will be music to the ears of the 24 teams ready to battle it out for continental supremacy.
What is it?
The 2023 Afcon will be the 34th edition of the biennial tournament organised by the Confederation of African Football. It will be hosted by Ivory Coast for the second time and the first since 1984. Senegal are the defending champions. The tournament mascot is Akwaba (meaning “welcome” in Baoule), a footballing elephant. The match ball, designed by Puma, is called Pokou, after Laurent Pokou, the Ivorian striker who scored five goals in one game at the 1970 tournament.
When is it?
The tournament takes place in Ivory Coast from January 13-February 11.
Which venues will be used?
Six stadiums will be used to host the 52 matches. Two in Abidjan, one each in Bouake, Korhogo, San Pedro and Yamoussoukro.
Alassane Ouattara Stadium (Abidjan) – 60,000 capacity
Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium (Abidjan) – 33,000
Stade de la Paix, (Bouake) – 40,000
Amadou Gon Coulibaly Stadium (Korhogo) – 20,000
Laurent Pokou Stadium (San Pedro) – 20,000
Charles Konan Banny Stadium (Yamoussoukro) – 20,000
How many teams?
A total of 24 teams will take part, with no debutant nation for the first time since the 2015 edition; 17 teams that participated in the most recent edition in 2021 are set to return for the event.
The teams taking part are:
Five players to watch
Liverpool’s “Egyptian King” arrives at the tournament in his best form for quite some time. Having helped fire the Reds to the top of the Premier League table, he put an exclamation point on the first half of his season with a virtuoso display in the 4-2 win over Newcastle. With Salah in this form, Egypt will be hopeful of going deep into the tournament.
West Ham’s midfield entertainer heads to the tournament with Ghana having lit up the Premier League in recent months. Having initially struggled for game time after his move from Ajax, he has established himself as a key man at the London Stadium with his good form lifting the Hammers into the top six and into the knockout stages of the Europa League.
The 27-year-old Guinea striker is in high demand having enjoyed a terrific start to the season in the Bundesliga with Stuttgart. Guirassy has 19 goals in 16 games across competitions, helping his club mount a challenge for the Champions League places. That form has alerted a host of Premier League clubs.
Another African striker flourishing in the Bundesliga. The 22-year-old has fired Bayer Leverkusen to the top of the table and into the last 16 of the Europa League with an astonishing 16 goals and eight assists in 23 games this season. He will form a formidable attacking trident with Victor Osimhen and Ademola Lookman for Nigeria.
Hosts Ivory Coast might not be as strong as they were in the days of Didier Drogba and Yaya Toure but they have an excellent right full-back in Singo. The former Torino player has been a revelation since his summer move to Monaco and will no doubt be on the radar of some very big clubs if his stellar form continues.
The 2023 Afcon features six groups of four teams. The top two teams in each group qualify automatically for the last 16 along with the four best third-placed teams.
Group A – Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau
Group B – Egypt, Ghana, Cape Verde, Mozambique
Group C – Senegal, Cameroon, Guinea, Gambia
Group D – Algeria, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Angola
Group E – Tunisia, Mali, South Africa, Namibia
Group F – Morocco, DR Congo, Zambia, Tanzania
All times are UAE (Ivory Coast is four hours behind):
January 13 – Ivory Coast v Guinea-Bissau, midnight
January 14 – Nigeria v Equatorial Guinea, 6pm; Egypt v Mozambique, 9pm; Ghana v Cape Verde, midnight
January 15 – Senegal v Gambia, 6pm; Cameroon v Guinea, 9pm; Algeria v Angola, midnight
January 16 – Burkina Faso v Mauritania, 6pm; Tunisia v Namibia, 9pm; Mali v South Africa, midnight
January 17 – Morocco v Tanzania, 9pm; DR Congo v Zambia, midnight
January 18 – Equatorial Guinea v Guinea-Bissau, 6pm; Ivory Coast v Nigeria, 9pm; Egypt v Ghana, midnight
January 19 – Cape Verde v Mozambique, 6pm; Senegal v Cameroon, 9pm; Guinea v Gambia, midnight
January 20 – Algeria v Burkina Faso, 6pm; Mauritania v Angola, 9pm; Tunisia v Mali, midnight
January 21 – Morocco v DR Congo, 6pm; Zambia v Tanzania, 9pm; South Africa v Namibia, midnight
January 22 – Equatorial Guinea v Ivory Coast, 9pm; Guinea-Bissau v Nigeria, 9pm; Mozambique v Ghana, midnight; Cape Verde v Egypt, midnight
January 23 – Guinea v Senegal, 9pm; Gambia v Cameroon, 9pm; Angola v Burkina Faso, midnight); Mauritania v Algeria, midnight
January 24 – South Africa v Tunisia, 9pm; Namibia v Mali, 9pm; Tanzania v DR Congo, midnight; Zambia v Morocco, midnight
January 27 – Runner-up Group A v runner-up Group C; winner Group D v third place Group B/E/F
January 28 – Runner-up Group B v runner-up Group F; winner Group A v third place Group C/D/E
January 29 – Winner Group B v third place Group A/C/D; winner Group C v third place Group A/B/F
January 30 – Winner Group F v runner-up Group E; winner Group E v runner-up Group D
February 2 and 3
2023 Africa Cup Prize money
The champions will receive $5 million, with the runner-up getting $3 million. The losing semi-finalists get $2.5 million.
How can I watch the games on TV?
Afcon 2023 matches will be broadcast live in the UAE on beIN Sports. For more information visit www.bein.com.