Group A Table: Has Nigeria qualified for AFCON knockouts?

Group A Table: Has Nigeria qualified for AFCON knockouts?
Photo by Icon Sport

Results on Thursday at AFCON 2023 see Ivory Coast drop below Nigeria on the Group A table after their famous win over the hosts in their second game.

There were plenty of expectations for the hosts going into the game, knowing the Super Eagles were no easy customers.

The Elephants needed a win to go top of the Group A table after Equatorial Guinea had recorded a resounding victory over Guinea Bissau.

Ivory Coast now walks a tightrope but knows their fate is still in their hands ahead of their final Group A game on Monday.

So, who sits atop the Group A table and has Nigeria qualified for the next round?

Group A Table: Nigeria yet to qualify for the knockouts

Super Eagles - can finish top of Group A table
Photo by Icon Sport

It was a hard-fought victory for the Super Eagles against one of their arch-rivals, Ivory Coast. Plenty was riding on the cards going into the match, especially following the result of the Equatorial Guinea vs Guinea Bissau game.

With their latest win, Equatorial Guinea sits atop the Group A table and looks good for a place in the knockouts.

None of the teams in this group has qualified, and Ivory Coast still stands a chance of making it to the next round.

Nigeria is second on the Group A table and will take on Guinea Bissau in their last game. A draw might be enough to see them through, but they cannot afford a loss.

Guinea Bissau is already out of the tournament after losing its first two games.

The stakes are high, with Ivory Coast needing a win to book a ticket into the next round.

As it stands, Equatorial Guinea sits atop the Group A table with four points, the same as the Super Eagles, who have the same number of points but an inferior goal difference.

Ivory Coast has three points, and a draw against Equatorial Guinea would do them no good in the race to get to the next round.

AFCON 2023 GROUP A TABLE

# Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Equatorial Guinea 2 1 1 0 5 3 2 4
2 Nigeria 2 1 1 0 2 1 1 4
3 Ivory Coast 2 1 0 1 2 1 1 3
4 Guinea-Bissau 2 0 0 2 2 6 -4 0

How Nigeria will qualify for the next round

Ivory Coast can still finish top of Group A Table
Credit : Icon Sport

With four points, Nigeria needs a win against Guinea Bissau to go to seven points. If Nigeria wins and Ivory Coast beats Equatorial Guinea, they both qualify.

If Ivory Coast draws with Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria loses to Guinea Bissau, Nigeria and the Nzalang Nacional go through on the head-to-head rule.

Equatorial Guinea will finish top of the Group A table if they beat the Elephants, except Nigeria forks out a victory over Guinea Bissau with a wide margin.

If Nigeria draws their last match and Ivory Coast beats the Nzalang Nacional, Ivory Coast will finish top of the table and Nigeria second.

Whatever the Super Eagles do, they must not lose to Guinea Bissau.

The tie-breaker

Equatorial Guinea - top of Group A Table
Photo by Icon Sport

Teams are ranked according to points (3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw, 0 points for a loss), and if two teams tie on points, the following tiebreaking criteria are applied, in the order given, to determine the rankings (Regulations Article 74)

1 – Points in head-to-head matches match between the two tied teams;
2 – Goal difference in all group matches;
3 – Goals scored in all group matches;
4 – Drawing of lots.

If more than two teams are tied, the following criteria are applied instead:

1 – Points in matches match between the tied teams;
2 – Goal difference in matches match between the tied teams;
3 – Goals scored in matches match between the tied teams;
4 – If after applying all criteria above, two teams still tie, all head-to-head criteria above were applied exclusively to these two teams; If this does not resolve the tie, the next three criteria are applied;
5 – Goal difference in all group matches;
6 – Goals scored in all group matches;
7 – Drawing of lots.

As it is, Nigeria does not need to start punching their calculators.

This article was most recently revised and updated 1 month ago

Chooka Izuegbuna is a Sports Journalist with 20 years of experience in print, TV and Radio. He has worked with some of the top media houses in Nigeria, including NTA Network, Channels TV, TVC, Silverbird TV and MITV. Chooka broke his sports reporting teeth with The Game Football Weekly in 2003 as a cartoonist and reporter.