The 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) is around the corner, as Africa’s finest compete to be crowned continental champions in the Ivory Coast.
The tournament will feature a whole host of stars from some of the biggest club sides in world football, in what appears an open race to be crowned AFCON winners.
AFCON 2023 will kick off on Saturday January 13, with fans from all round the world sure to keep a close eye on the action.
Ahead of the opening fixtures, we’ve looked at the five favourites to win the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, for those interested in the latest odds and free football tips.
Egypt – 9/1
Egypt are the record seven-time winners of AFCON, but have gone more than a decade since the most recent of their continental titles in 2010.
Runners-up twice in the last three tournaments, The Pharaohs were beaten on penalties by Senegal in the 2021 edition. The Egyptian squad is made up primarily of home-based players, though the trump card in Rui Vitória’s side is Liverpool star Mohamed Salah.
Heading to AFCON with Egypt! 🇪🇬
— Professional Footballers’ Association (@PFA) January 3, 2024
Salah is African football’s biggest name and arrives in the tournament in scintillating form. The 31-year-old is the joint-leading scorer (14) and assist provider (8) in the Premier League this season, and has scored six goals in his last nine appearances for the national team. The forward has 55 international goals in 96 caps and is chasing down the all-time goal record, held by Hossam Hassan (68).
Egypt have lost just one of their last 14 games in all competitions.
Ivory Coast – 7/1
Ivory Coast will host the Africa Cup of Nations for the second time, with the original tournament scheduled for the Northern Hemisphere’s summer in 2023, before being rescheduled due to poor weather.
Les Éléphants have won two previous titles after being crowned AFCON winners in 1992 and 2015, and are regarded among the favourites for this year’s tournament despite lacking the star power of rival sides.
The recent recruitment of French-born talents in Evan Ndicka, Seko Fofana and Jonathan Bamba has added top-level European quality, while Sebastien Haller will lead the line despite a goalless Bundesliga campaign to date.
Nottingham Forest full-back Serge Aurier will captain the Ivorians, while teenagers Karim Konaté (Red Bull Salzburg) and Ousmane Diomande (Sporting Lisbon) are two exciting talents to keep an eye on.
Algeria – 7/1
Algeria will start among the contenders to be crowned champions, as The Greens look to bounce back from a disastrous 2021 tournament that saw the North African nation crash out in the group stage as holders.
Algeria’s victorious campaign in 2019 had earned the nation a second AFCON title, as Baghdad Bounedjah scored the decisive goal against Senegal.
Riyad Mahrez will captain Algeria, while fellow former Leicester player Islam Slimani remains a focal point, despite approaching his 36th birthday. The veteran, who now plays his club football in Brazil with Cortiba, has scored a record 45 goals in 98 caps.
Algeria are another nation who have recruited European-born talents of Algerian descent, with Roma’s Houssem Aouar – who earned a non-competitive cap for France in 2020 – Feyenoord’s Ramiz Zerrouki, and Wolves left-back Rayan Ait Nouri included in their squad.
Senegal – 6/1
Senegal enter the tournament as defending champions after winning an elusive AFCON title in 2021.
The Lions of Teranga edged Egypt on penalties two years ago, to win a first continental title after runners-up finishes in 2002 and 2019.
🚨 𝗢𝗙𝗙𝗜𝗖𝗜𝗔𝗟: Senegal’s squad for AFCON. 🇸🇳 pic.twitter.com/XJEJBRPuZG
— Football Tweet ⚽ (@Football__Tweet) December 29, 2023
The core of Aliou Cissé’s side is ageing, with star names Kalidou Koulibaly, Sadio Mane and Idrissa Gueye all into their thirties. Senegal will hope the nation’s emerging generation, including Spurs midfielder Pape Matar Sarr and Chelsea striker Nicolas Jackson, can provide the holders with the right blend of youth and experience to defend their title.
Morocco – 5/1
Morocco made history in Qatar last winter after becoming the first African team to reach the World Cup semi-finals.
The Atlas Lions will aim to build on that tournament, which saw Morocco eliminate Spain and Portugal, and win a second Africa Cup of Nations title and first since 1976.
Walid Regragui’s side boast a strong core of players based in Europe’s top five leagues, with on-loan Manchester United midfielder Sofyan Amrabat and West Ham centre-back Nayef Aguerd the Premier League representation.
The first-ever African team to reach the #FIFAWorldCup semi-final!
🇲🇦 What a result for Morocco, #OTD in 2022…
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) December 10, 2023
Paris Saint-Germain full-back Achraf Hakimi is the star name in the Moroccan ranks, while Sevilla striker Youssef En-Nesyri will lead the line. The latter scored 18 goals in all competitions last season as the Spanish side won the Europa League.
Morocco, who beat Brazil in a friendly in March, look well placed to challenge.