100 days and counting: AFCON 2023 beckons in Ivory Coast

Senegal were crowned AFCON Champions in Cameroon 2019

FOOTBALL 100 days and counting: AFCON 2023 beckons in Ivory Coast

Shafic Kiyaga 17:18 - 05.10.2023

The draw for the tournament, which will officially define the battle lines for the 24 qualified teams, is scheduled to be held next Thursday.

In exactly 100 days, the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) will kick off in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, and the Confederation of African Football (CAF) is brimming with confidence that this event will be nothing short of spectacular.

The tournament will bring together Africa's top football stars and 24 national teams from January 13 to February 11.

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With the finals of the continent’s biggest football showpiece drawing close, CAF has expressed its anticipation for the 34th edition of AFCON.

"With today marking exactly 100 days to kick-off, excitement for the biggest event on African soil has reached fever pitch," CAF declared.

“Cote d’Ivoire is eagerly waiting to welcome the participating teams and fans from across the continent.”

The draw for the tournament, which will officially define the battle lines for the 24 qualified teams, is scheduled to be held next Thursday.

The 2023 AFCON mascot has been named AKWABA which translates to Welcome | Photo Credit: Courtesy

African football legends Yaya Toure and brother Kolo Toura and Didier Drogba are expected to headline the tournament draws that will be held in the country’s capital Abidjan.

The 24 qualified teams will be drawn six groups of four teams each, as the nations get to learn their path to glory.

The Africa Cup of Nations is Africa's premier sporting events, watched by over 500 million people in more than 150 countries.

The Alassane Outtara Stadium in Ivory Coast also called Olympic Stadium of Ebimpé | Photo Credit: Courtesy

It stands as a testament to the passion for football on the continent and is celebrated for its thrilling matches and remarkable moments.

In June 2023, CAF, in collaboration with the Ivory Coast Local Organising Committee, unveiled the official identity for the tournament which was moved from June-July 2024, to January-February 2024.

The Yamoussoukro stadium is among the completed stadiums for the 2023 AFCON, but the tournament organisers are yet to deliver four other venues | Photo Credit: Courtesy

To ensure the success of the tournament, Cote d’Ivoire has invested heavily in building world-class stadiums in Abidjan, Bouake, Yamoussoukro, and San Pedro, the five cities chosen to host the event.

Who is on the plane to Ivory Coast?

Cameroon and Namibia were two nations were the last to confirm their AFCON 2023 qualification, bringing an end to a series of qualifiers that saw all 54 African nations battle for their coveted spots in the showpiece.

Record African champions Egypt will also be gunning for a record extending eighth AFCON crown, and first since 2010 – victory which confirmed a three peat of continental titles.

Senegal’s Sadio Mane celebrates lifting the AFCON trophy during the 2021 AFCON final between Senegal and Egypt at Stade d Olembe, Yaounde | IMAGO / Sebastian Frej

The Paharoah will be competing at their 27th AFCON edition and will look to better their runners up finish in Cameroon 2021.

FIFA World Cup semi-finalist Morocco will be another favourite in West Africa. The Atlas Lions have won the tournament only once in 1976.

They have not reached the semi-finals of the tournament in 20 years since finishing runners up in 2004.

Tunisia, African champions in 2004, and semi-finalists in 2019 will also be chasing their second continental crown.

Nigeria Super Eagles duo Victor Osimhen and Taiwo Awoniyi celebrate. (Photo Credit: CAF/X)

Incredibly, they have qualified for every AFCON tournament since 1994, and have reached the last eight of each tournament since 2015.

Three time winners Nigeria will also be among the hot favourites in Ivory Coast as they aim to reclaim glory they last achieved in 2013.

Neighbours Ghana will hope they can get the monkey off their back and finally have their hands on the trophy which has eluded them since 1982.

They have finished as runners up on five occasions, the most of any nation in history, including a run of semi-final disappointments between 2008 and 2017. They did not progress past the group stages in 2021 though.

AFCON Africa Cup Of Nations Cameron 2021 (10) Mohamed Salah (C) and team Egypt action before receives his silver medal from Patrice Motsepe, President of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) after the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations final

Tanzania will be the only East African nation at the 2023 AFCON finals, achieving their third qualification in history at the expense of neighbours Uganda.

Unlike the previous edition, there will be no debutants in the tournament, as Gambia will be making their second appearance at the AFCON.

However, the potential for surprises looms large, as underdog teams like Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, and Equatorial Guinea seek to make their mark against the big names at AFCON 2023.