The 2023 AFRICAN Cup of Nations is less than three weeks away as the footballing world gears up for the biggest party of the year in Ivory Coast. It’s not too early to start salivating over the thrilling encounters guaranteed to take place from January 13 onwards. Some of the world’s best players will take part in this illustrious competition and it’ll be a dream come true for many youngsters.
Competing countries have had in front of them their respective maps to glory since the AFCON 2023 group stage draw was made in October. The competition is so fierce and it is incredibly tough to predict who will rise above the rest to go all the way. However, some have dared to offer their predictions, like Yaya Toure, one of the best African players in the 21st century.
Who are Yaya Toure's picks for AFCON 2023?
The likes of Morocco, Algeria, Senegal, Nigeria and Ghana, Egypt, Tunisia and Cameroon have been tipped to win the coveted trophy by many experts, but celebrated African football star Yaya Toure has a different opinion regarding the potential winners of the tournament.
The 40-year-old, who captained the Ivory Coast to AFCON, glory believes that one of the following nations would emerge as victors in the competition: South Africa, Guinea-Bissau, Côte d’Ivoire, Morocco, and reigning champions Senegal.
“It’s normal to have a preference for your own country,” Toure, who is currently serving as an assistant coach for the Saudi Arabia national team, shared his thoughts with Forbes Afrique. “Côte d’Ivoire has a strong team and many talented and experienced players. But if I had to choose the teams I think are favourites, I’d say Senegal, Morocco, Guinea-Bissau and South Africa. They had an impressive qualifying campaign,” he added.
Ivory Coast will host the competition and they do have a good team, but will that be enough for them to win the prestigious competition for the third time in the nation's history?
Meanwhile, South Africa placed second in a group that had Morocco, Liberia and Zimbabwe in the qualifiers for AFCON 2023. In four games, they won two, drew one and lost one. The Djurtus of Guinea Bissau placed second behind Nigeria recording three victories, one defeat and a defeat.
Senegal, on the other hand, avoided defeat in all six games. Pitched against Benin, Mozambique and Rwanda, the Teranga Lions won four and drew two. Currently placed in a tricky Group C that has Cameroon, Gambia and Guinea, the Aliou Cisse-led side are tipped to retain the title they won last year.
Morocco’s splendid showing at the last FIFA World Cup corroborates Toure’s assertion of being one of the nations highly tipped to win the competition. Walid Regragui has a blend of experienced and talented youngsters to champion his cause in Ivory Coast. With Achraf Hakimi, Hakim Ziyech, Youssef En- Nesyri, and Noussair Mazraoui at his disposal, Regragui will have his work cut out for him in a group that has Zambia, DR Congo, and Tanzania.
Have Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Egypt, or Tunisia the wherewithal to prove Yaya Toure wrong or will South Africa, Guinea Bissau, Morocco, Senegal, or Ivory Coast win the tournament to confirm Toure’s predictions? We await with a great deal of apprehension.