AFCON 2023: Lessons Learned from the Latest Tournament

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With questions about the importance and relevance of the Africa Cup of Nations arising in football spaces in the past, the 2023 edition of the tournament has been the right stage to silence critics and also serve as the “rebirth” of African football.

AFCON 2023 has set a new precedent many believe upcoming CAF competitions will continue to follow as the tournament attracted audiences from different parts of the world and earned comparison of being up to par with competitions like the Euros and so on.

Questions as to how and why the 2023 edition marks the turning point of the AFCON itself have taken center stage and the answer is not far-fetched as the football body CAF made crucial decisions that led to this particular change.

In 2019, the CAF elected to expand the tournament from 16 to 24 teams. While this was met with criticism at the time, it turned out to be a huge success. More teams mean more games and more opportunities for the biggest stars to shine. It also provided countries which are often categorized as the underdogs with the opportunity to assert themselves and also cause a tournament upset.

There are so many lessons learnt from the tournament itself and they are:

The Unpredictable Nature of AFCON

Fans of football know just how unpredictable the sport can be. While it may not be as exciting as playing the latest slots at Jackpot City Casino, it provides fans with plenty of unexpected results. The Africa Cup of Nations is particularly unpredictable, with results rarely ever turning out as fans and experts might predict.

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Big teams struggled to impress, with Nigeria, Ghana, Egypt and hosts Ivory Coast all being beaten by lower ranked teams. Of course, the nature of a tournament is that anyone can win, but the stronger teams normally have enough to progress. In the case of AFCON, things are certainly so certain. You can never count out underdog nations such as Equatorial Guinea, Cape Verde and Angola.

It’s hard to say exactly why the AFCON is so unpredictable, but it’s clear that it means a lot to all of the teams involved. In addition, there is always a lot of support from fans, which can help to give the players the motivation they need to scrape a win against all odds.

The Expansion of the Tournament

When the expansion of the Africa Cup of Nations was first proposed, many were against the idea. They believed it would water down the tournament, leading to too many uninteresting games and a lower quality of football. However, nothing could be further from the truth. The expansion has created a more vibrant and interesting competition.

With 24 teams instead of 16, AFCON is better and more exciting than ever. It means that teams which would never have qualified have a chance to play on the biggest stage, which can only be good for helping African football grow. In addition, it’s called into question the accuracy of the FIFA ranking systems, and showed many experts and fans that star players don’t necessarily mean everything.

Everyone loves a good underdog story, and matches such as Equatorial Guinea’s 4-0 win over Ivory Coast have gotten the whole world talking. The expanded format has meant that more eyes than ever are firmly focused on African football and it bodes well for the future of sport on the continent.

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The Future of AFCON

Africa has always produced brilliant talents, with many star players going on to play for some of the best teams in Europe. AFCON should be a tournament that features the very best of what African football has to offer. However, for many years it has been seen as something of a distraction for top players.

Many African football stars prefer to focus on club football rather than the national team, but with more interest in the tournament that could change. In addition, the tournament is helping people see that African talent isn’t only found playing in Europe. Some of the best players of the tournament play in leagues all over the continent and across the world. 

AFCON 2025 which will be hosted by Morocco is on the horizon and fans remain at the edge of their seats in anticipation of another blockbuster tournament.

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