AFCON 2023 groups ranked: Toughest to easiest

AFCON 2023 groups ranked: Toughest to easiest
Credit: Icon Sport

There are six AFCON groups made up of 24 teams that will fiercely compete for the trophy in Ivory Coast.

As the African superstars converge in the West African nation for the third biggest continental football event in the world, let us get to rank the different drawn groups according to their strengths.

Usually, every football competition has that one group termed ‘group of death' as a result of its members having no clear-cut underdogs.

Senegal won the last edition of this competition as Sadio Mane inspired the Teranga Lions to their maiden AFCON title.

AFCON trophy
Credit: Icon Sport

With quite a number of teams capable of winning the trophy this time, it is quite difficult to pick out a clear favourite for the upcoming event.

Mohamed Salah, Victor Osimhen, Sadio Mane, Vincent Aboubakar, Riyad Mahrez, Sebastien Haller, Youssef En-Nesyri and lots of other stars will each be trying to have a good competition in order to propel their respective nations to AFCON glory.

Let's delve into the thick of the action!

AFCON groups ranked from toughest to easiest

1. AFCON Group C

This AFCON 2023 group is arguably the toughest one amongst the six groupings. It is made up of defending champions Senegal, five time AFCON winners Cameroon, Guinea and
Gambia.

While Senegal come in as favourites to top the group, it's worth knowing that no defending champion has retained the trophy since Egypt did it in 2010.

Senegal's matchup with Cameroon will be a defining moment and one of the biggest matches of the group stages.

It's worth mentioning that all four teams in this group made it out of their groups in the last edition of this competition, confirming its toughness.

Boasting of players like Sadio Mane, Vincent Aboubakar, Sehrou Guirassy, Kalidou Koulibaly, Naby Keita, Maxim Choupo-Moting, Pape Matar Sarr and lots more, this group is set to encounter fierce battles.

Senegal players celebrating their AFCON win
Credit: Icon Sport

2. AFCON Group A

The next toughest group in line is Group A which pits two-time winners and AFCON hosts Ivory Coast, against three-time winners Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea and Guinea Bissau

Although there are just two past winners in this group, Equatorial Guinea has been a rising force in African football, recently getting to the quarter-finals of this competition in Cameroon.

With a fourth place finish in 2015 being their best, Nzalang Nacional will battle the Elephants and the Super Eagles of Nigeria for a ticket in the knockout phase.

3. AFCON Group E

Next in line amongst the toughest AFCON 2023 groups is Group E which is composed of Tunisia, Mali, South Africa, and Namibia.

It's important to point out that Tunisia were champions in 2004. Also, they got to the last four and quarter-finals of the last two editions of 2019 and 2020 respectively.

Mali were runners-up in 1972, and have not gotten past the Round of 16 in the two most recent AFCON, however with an unbeaten run of 7 games with 5 wins and 2 draws and an in-form Kamory Doumbia firing for the Eagles, this group is up for grabs.

Meanwhile Bafana Bafana of South Africa emerged champions in 1996, and also came close in 1998 and 2000. The team failed to qualify in the last edition in Cameroon but have since improved to put themselves in contention to qualify from this group.

For Namibia, they're the weakest member of this group and are making their fourth appearance in this competition which they haven't gone past the group stage. They're certainly not going to be a threat to anyone here.

4. AFCON Group B

Egypt, Ghana, Cape Verde and Mozambique are the four teams in this group. While the Pharaohs and the Black Stars are the only two past AFCON winners here.

The Pharaohs of Egypt have won a record seven AFCON titles; they will face a stern test against Ghana in Group B who have four titles as the battle of who tops the standings intensifies.

Egypt and Ghana will fancy their chances of progressing from a group containing teams they have the edge over, making this one of the easy groups with two clear favourite teams.

Ghana football team photo
Credit: Icon Sport

5. AFCON Group D

Even though there are really no easy groups, you just can't ignore the fact that Group D is not as tough looking as Groups C, A and E. It is made up of Algeria, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, and Angola.

The 2019 champions Algeria are clear favourites to top this group, while Angola and Burkina Faso will battle for second spot. It will be a surprise if Mauritania makes it out of this group.

6. AFCON Group F

World Cup semi-finalists Morocco are clear favourites to clinch top spot in what looks like an easy group for the Atlas Lions.

The other three members of this group are Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia and Tanzania.

DR Congo are two-time winners of the competition, while Morocco and Zambia have each one the AFCON title with only Tanzania being the outsider here.

The fight for who joins Morocco in the knockouts in this easy group will be between the Leopards and the Chipolopolo.

The AFCON 2023 tournament will officially kick off on 13 January 2024.

Six venues across Ivory Coast will host the matches including two stadiums in Abidjan, and four newly constructed stadiums in Bouake, Korhogo, San Pedro and Yamoussoukro.

The top two teams in each of the six groups will progress along with the best four third-placed teams to the knockout stage.

The final match will be played at Abidjan's 65,000 capacity Alassane Ouattara Stadium where the new African champions will be crowned.

This article was most recently revised and updated 2 months ago

Joseph is a graduate engineer turned sports writer, he has covered lots of sports stories, match previews and predictions across various leagues on the planet.