African football fans are teeming with excitement as AFCON 2023 is set to dazzle the entire continent with great fixtures next month.
Interestingly, the tournament is tagged ‘AFCON 2023' but will be staged in 2024 for good reason, a decision most European clubs are not happy about.
While this shift will disrupt European teams who have some of the African stars as key figures amongst their ranks, the competition has been over the years one that these stars want to feature in for their countries.
Players don their national team's jersey with pride in competitions like the AFCON which comes biennially.
Stars like reigning African Footballer of the Year Victor Osimhen, Egyptian football king Mohamed Salah, Morocco's Achraf Hakimi, and Nigeria's Victor Boniface who's doing wonders for Bayer Leverkusen this season will all be gracing the tournament along with other notable stars.
Why it is called AFCON 2023 and not AFCON 2024
The tournament will be the 34th edition since its inception in 1957. The competition began to be hosted after two years in 1968 but has switched to odd-numbered years between 2013 and 2023.
The 2023 edition was initially planned to be the third since 2019 to take place during the Northern Hemisphere's summer time in order to limit scheduling conflicts with European competitions and clubs.
However, it was moved to January 2024 due to adverse weather conditions in the Ivory Coast during summer in Europe.
Even though it was shifted, it still retained its name as AFCON 2023. The sole reason it retained its name as AFCON 2023 and not AFCON 2024 is for sponsorship purposes.
The tournament was rearranged from its original date between June and July 2023, and will instead be staged between January and February 2024.
The decision to move it to January 2024 was unanimously reached by the governing body of African football as all stakeholders pulled their weight together to arrive at that conclusion.
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) president Patrice Motsepe at the time said:
“We cannot take the risk, January is not the ideal time because of the European clubs, but it is the only choice we have.”
The tournament was due to take place between June and July 2023 as mentioned earlier, but will now be played at the beginning of 2024 to avoid Ivory Coast’s strong rainy season.
For this reason, it was rather brought forward, which means the tournament will be played in the Northern Hemisphere's winter season like it was in the 2021 edition in Cameroon.
AFCON start date
The most prestigious event in African football is now closer than ever as various teams are set to fine-tune final preparations for the competition proper next month with some friendly matches.
AFCON 2023 is scheduled to take place from 13 January to 11 February 2024 across six venues in the Ivory Coast.
Top of the pre-tournament favourites include defending champions Senegal, 2022 FIFA World Cup semi-finalists Morocco, and AFCON hosts Ivory Coast.
Other teams that can also win the competition are seven-time winners Egypt, the Super Eagles of Nigeria, and 2019 champions, Algeria.
This article was most recently revised and updated 2 months ago