Get ready for Ghana! Senegal, Morocco, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, and South Africa are after the Lion of Teranga’s Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) crown.
This Daniel Amartey, Mohamed Salah, Percy Tau, Victor Osimhen, and other African stars are all under pressure to win the Africa Cup of Nations, but who has the best chance? Ghana might get the change to win this AFCON 2023.
It’s time to narrow the gap
The second-best African nation, as far as Afcon titles go, they can never be overlooked at any point.
Cameroon is currently positioned as the seventh-best team in Africa and 46th in the world, Cameroon is in a tough group with defending champions Senegal.
However, they put on a show and danced against five-time Fifa World Cup champions, Brazil in the 2022 edition, which makes them an unpredictable side under Rigobert Song, who shockingly dropped Bayern Munich forward Maxim Choupo-Moting.
Key players:Vincent Aboubakar, Moumi Ngamaleu, and Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa
Heavy is the head that holds the crown
After tying the knot with long-time partner Aisha Tamba, Sadio Mane’s dream would be to help Senegal retain the Afcon, given that all eyes are on them as the defending champ.
Senegal are ranked as the second-best team in the continent, and they round up the top 20 across the globe.
Drawn into a tough Group C alongside Gambia, Cameroon, and Guinea, they are expected to navigate into the knockout stages.
Key players:Sadio Mane, Kalidou Koulibaly, and Édouard Mendy.
Eager to restore African dignity
Hugo Broos’ side had a distant memory of winning the competition in 1996 on home soil.
They reached the final in the 1998 edition, but that has just been that for South Africa in the Afcon.
What followed was inconsistencies as they missed three editions since 2010.
However, Broos has given South Africa an air of belief and some level of confidence since taking over in 2021.
Broos won the competition with Cameroon in 2017, so he has a blueprint for success.
Key players:Percy Tau, Themba Zwane, and Ronwen Williams.
Eagles with a five-star line-up
Whenever there is an Afcon tournament, Nigeria is always going to be favourites.
A dominant force in Africa sitting with three titles as their last triumph was 11 years ago in South Africa.
The Super Eagles, however, have lost some confidence as they are stuttering in the 2026 Fifa World qualifiers.
But, they are no pushovers. Nigeria’s star-studded squad houses the likes of Alex Iwobi and Victor Osimhen and other individuals who can create a spark off a rock.
Key players:Victor Osimhen, Alex Iwobi, and Kelechi Iheanacho.
Back into time for historical favourites
The Pharaohs are in desperate need of redemption after they suffered a defeat in the 2021 final, losing to Senegal on penalties in Cameroon.
Egypt also failed to qualify for the 2022 Fifa World Cup and only last tasted African glory over a decade ago.
Great names like Liverpool star Mohamed Salah and Mohamed Elneny of Arsenal, all have never won any major silverware with the country, and this could be their last chance.
Key players:Mohamed Salah, Mohamed Elneny, and Mohamed El Shennawy.
A black star that needs to shine
Sitting slightly outside the continent’s top 10 as Ghana occupies the 11th position ahead of South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Black Stars will always be among the favourites at any Afcon.
Ghana was unlucky to finish as second best twice in the last seven editions, losing to Egypt in 2010 before suffering the same heartbreak against this year’s hosts, Ivory Coast, in 2015.
They’ve experienced a drought of over 40 years, and this time around, their half-shining golden generation is presented with a last chance.
Key players:Daniel Amartey, Jordan Ayew, and Andre Ayew.
Algeria aims for revival
Algeria are on a revival trail and desperately need to re-establish themselves as a force on the continent.
The Fennecs went into the 2021 edition as defending champions, but they embarrassingly got booted out in the group stages.
Their downfall was a harder landing when they failed to qualify for the most recent Fifa World Cup.
However, they are still good enough to be ranked fourth in Africa and will bank on players like Riyad Mahrez and Youcef Belaili to lead their campaign.
Key players:Ismael Bennacer, Riyad Mahrez, and Houssem Aouar.
One-time Afcon winners Morocco showed a lot of bravery in the 2022 Fifa World Cup where they defeated Belgium and booted out Spain and Portugal and went on to become the maidnation to reach the semi-finals.
They had a great start in the World Cup qualifiers where they beat Zambia in their opening game.
The Atlas Lions have all the confidence any nation needs going into a tournament of this magnitude, and the honours are now on them to replicate their World Cup form to stand a good chance at bagging what would be a first title in almost 50 years.
Key players:Sofyan Amrabat, Achraf Hakimi, and Hakim Ziyech.
Home comforts paired with paramount pressure
As a host nation, there will always be pressure, but with that also comes a lot of advantages. Every game is a home game, and you’ve got the entire country supporting you.
However, the Ivorians will not have it easy as they should expect tough competition from Nigeria for the leadership and dominance of Group A.
The absence of ex-Crystal Palace attacker Wilfried Zaha might prove to be detrimental to coach Jean-Louis Gasset.
Key players:Serge Aurier, Ibrahim Sangaré, Sébastien Haller.
Consistency needs to pay off
One of the most consistent teams in terms of participation in the Afcon, Tunisia, is heading for a 16th successive appearance.
MORE STORIES:Williams sends message to Bafana supporters
The Carthage Eagles only went as far as the quarter-finals in 2021, with their only triumph coming 20 years ago when they beat Morocco.
Ranked the third-best nation on the continent, Tunisia were among the five African representatives in the 2022 Fifa World Cup, where they bombed out of the group phase.
Now, the North Africans are one of the most unpredictable teams, and that might work in their favour.
Key players:Naïm Sliti, Youssef Msakni, and Ali Maaloul.
Zambia, Mali, Burkina Faso