AFCON 2023: Everything you need to know about the Africa Cup of Nations


With the TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations, Cote d’Ivoire 2023, just around the corner, football enthusiasts are gearing up for a month-long extravaganza of thrilling matches, iconic moments, and the sheer brilliance that defines Africa’s premier football tournament.

Here’s a comprehensive guide to ensure you’re primed for the 34th edition of this highly anticipated sporting event.

Hosts and Opening Match: Cote d’Ivoire is set to host the finals, marking its second time hosting the tournament. The opening match is scheduled for Saturday, 13 January, where the hosts will take on Guinea-Bissau at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium in Abidjan.

Historic Context: This tournament holds historical significance as Cote d’Ivoire is hosting it for the first time since 1984.

Venue Overview: Matches will be played in six stadiums across five host cities: Abidjan, Bouake, Korogho, San Pedro, and Yamoussoukro, showcasing Cote d’Ivoire’s commitment to sports infrastructure development.

Akwaba – The Official Mascot: Meet “Akwaba,” the official mascot representing a warm welcome. Depicted as an elephant and adorned in Cote d’Ivoire’s home colors, Akwaba pays homage to the nation’s identity.

“Pokou” – The Official Match Ball: The official match ball, “Pokou,” honors the late Ivorian football legend Laurent Pokou, known for scoring five goals in the 1970 tournament.

“Akwaba” – The Official Song Celebration: The official song, “Akwaba,” features artists Yemi Alade, Mohamed Ramadan, and Magic System. This musical fusion embodies the tournament’s tradition with afrobeat, rap, and zouglou elements.

Group Structure: The 24 teams are divided into six groups, setting the stage for intriguing match-ups, including Egypt vs. Ghana in Group B and Senegal vs. Cameroon in Group C.

Tournament Format: Top two teams in each group and the four best-ranked third-placed teams advance to the last 16, followed by quarter-finals, semi-finals, a match for third place, and the grand finale.

Kick-off Times: During the group stages and knockout stages, games will be played at 14:00, 17:00, and 20:00 (all times GMT).

Opening Match Details: Côte d’Ivoire vs. Guinea-Bissau at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium, Abidjan (20:00 GMT) on Saturday, 13 January.

Opening Weekend Highlights: Seven-time champions Egypt face Mozambique in Group B, and holders Senegal start their title defense against The Gambia in Group C on Monday, 15 January.

Second Round Fixtures: Commence on Saturday, 27 January, with intriguing matchups like Group D winner vs. 3rd place Group B/E/F in Bouake (17:00 GMT).

Quarter-Final Showdown: Friday, 2 February, featuring winners from the second round at the Felix Houphouet-Boigny Stadium, Abidjan (17:00 GMT).

Semi-Final Battles: Set for Wednesday, 7 February, with the winners from the quarter-finals facing off at Bouake (17:00 GMT) and Alassane Ouattara Stadium, Abidjan (20:00 GMT).

Third-Place Play-Off: Saturday, 10 February, determining the best of the rest at the Felix Houphouet-Boigny Stadium, Abidjan (20:00 GMT).

Grand Finale: The eagerly awaited final showdown on Sunday, 11 February, at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium, Abidjan (20:00 GMT).

Tournament Favourites: Senegal, the current champions, are considered favorites, with other strong contenders including Morocco, Nigeria, Algeria, and Cote d’Ivoire.

Côte d’Ivoire vs. Nigeria: A high-stakes encounter in Group A on 18 January at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium, Abidjan (17:00 GMT).

Senegal vs. Cameroon: Group C heavyweight clash on 20 January at the Charles Konan Banny Stadium, Yamoussoukro (14:00 GMT).

As the clock ticks down to kickoff, get ready for a month-long celebration of African football excellence at the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations, Côte d’Ivoire 2023. The stage is set for a spectacle of footballing brilliance, drama, and unforgettable moments.

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