On January 13, 2023, the 34th edition of the prestigious African Cup of Nations will kick off in Côte d'Ivoire, with twenty-four nations competing for the trophy. The competition has been in existence since 1957 with Egypt winning the maiden edition.
The Super of Eagles of Nigeria have won the competition on three occasions with the first in 1980, second in 1994, and the last in 2013. Nigeria will be making their 20th appearance in Ivory Coast and they've been placed in Group A with hosts Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, and Equatorial Guinea.
Super Eagles friendlies ahead of AFCON 2023
In preparation for the next month’s tournament, the Super Eagles are scheduled to play friendly matches against Burkina Faso and Cape Verde. These Super Eagles friendlies will provide the team with valuable competition as they gear up for AFCON.
Cape Verde and Burkina Faso have a vast history in the tournament and are currently two of the best sides on the continent. The Burkina Faso team is not perfect, and, put bluntly, when you see their squad, you don’t immediately think they are a good side.
However, Hubert Velud’s team plays competitive football, pressing high and demanding possession, making the team's identity clear regardless of who plays. Burkina Faso is a team that wants the ball, wants to attack and not look backwards, making them dangerous at any point of the match.
Unlike Burkina Faso, Cape Verde plays a more forward game in which they try to include Aberdeen’s Luís Henriques de Barros Lopes as much as possible. They make quick runs at goal, or look for through balls to open space. With a pool of wingers to choose from, counter attacks and long balls are noticeable traits of their play.
How far can the Super Eagles go at AFCON 2023?
Meanwhile, former Super Eagles striker and manager Samson Siasia emphasised the importance of rebuilding confidence for three-time African champions to have a shot at winning AFCON 2023.
While acknowledging the current team’s individual skills, Siasia stressed the team's confidence as the key factor in the Super Eagles’ pursuit of a fourth continental glory.
“The team has good players, but they have to play as a team. If they start playing as a team, then we might have a chance to do whatever, but time is not our friend. The time is short.” Suasia said.
“We need time to build a team. And we don’t have that time because time is gone. In another 10 years’ time, we should be looking at trying to win the World Cup, not just the Africa Nations Cup. So, we have to start building now.” he quipped.
Having a wealth of talented players, José Peseiro’s Super Eagles team is among the top contenders to clinch the trophy. The provisional 55-man list featured notable names like Victor Osimhen, Victor Boniface, and Samuel Chukwueze.
The Super Eagles will gather in Saudi Arabia on December 29th to kick off their preparations for the tournament.