Current Date: 22 Feb, 2024

Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2023: Things to know before kick-off

Things to know about the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) before the 2023 tournament kicks off on Saturday, 13 January. 

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Things to know about the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) before the 2023 tournament kicks off on Saturday, 13 January with a Group A clash between hosts Ivory Coast and Guinea-Bissau:

Ivory Coast are staging the biggest African sport event a second time with Cameroon winning there in 1984. Nigeria finished second and Algeria third. The 1984 edition comprised eight countries and lasted 15 days – 40 years later the number of participants has trebled to 24.

Ivory Coast flopped when they first hosted the tournament with a victory over Togo followed by losses to Egypt and Cameroon and elimination after the group stage.

The 2024 tournament will comprise 52 matches over 30 days – 36 across six groups and 16 in the knockout phase. Commercial capital Abidjan will host 20 matches in two stadiums, Bouake nine, San Pedro and Yamoussoukro eight each and Korhogo seven

The opening match between Ivory Coast and Guinea-Bissau and the February 11 final are among 10 fixtures set for the new 60,000-seat Alhassane Ouattara stadium in Abidjan.

Stadiums with 20,000 capacities were built in Korhogo, San Pedro and the capital, Yamoussoukro, for the 2023 AFCON.

The 40-000-seat ground in Bouake and the second in Abidjan, the 30,000-capacity Felix Houphouet-Boigny stadium, were renovated for the biennial tournament.

Should teams finish level on points in a mini-league, head-to-head records will be the first tie-breaker, followed by goal difference then goals scored in all group matches.

If teams are still inseparable, lots will be drawn to determine final placings. This last occurred in 2015 with Guinea advancing to the quarter-finals at the expense of Mali.

VAR will be used in all 52 matches with 12 officials selected to monitor matches. There will also be 26 referees and 30 assistant referees at the tournament.

In the knockout phase, drawn matches will go to extra time, then a penalty shootout if necessary to determine winners. Matches decided by penalties are officially classified as draws.

The first knockout stage – the round of 16 – will consist of the six group winners, six group runners-up, and the four highest-ranked third-placed teams.

The following tie-breakers will be used to choose the best four third-placed teams: match points, goal difference then goals scored in all group matches, drawing of lots.

Qualifiers were permitted squads of up 27 players. However, only 23 – 11 starters and 12 substitutes – can be chosen for matches. A record $7 million goes to the winners – a 40 percent increase from the last tournament won by Senegal in 2022. The runners-up pocket $4 million.

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Excellence Chukwuma Chukwunaedu

Excellence Chukwuma Chukwunaedu

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