Posted 6 months ago

Soccer General

Fixtures, schedule, format, groups and kick-off times for Afcon 2023.

Fixtures, schedule, format, groups and kick-off times for Afcon 2023.
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The 2023 African Cup of Nations, known for short as the 2023 AFCON or CAN 2023 and for sponsorship purposes as the TotalEnergies 2024 Africa Cup of Nations, is scheduled to be the 34th edition of the biennial African Association football tournament organised by the Confederation of African Football.

The 34th edition of the 2023 AFCON will be held in the Ivory Coast at the start of 2024 with the hope of improving upon the previous edition of the tournament.

This edition of the tournament was initially planned to be the third since 2019 to take place during the Northern Hemisphere's summer, in order to reduce scheduling conflicts with European club teams and competitions.

Defending champions Senegal will be facing fierce competition from fellow African powers Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, host nation Ivory Coast, and others as they try to become the first back-to-back AFCON champions since Egypt won three straight in 2006, 2008, and 2010.

To reach the AFCON finals in 2024, nations must progress through qualifying, which can be ruthless in deciding which countries achieve a spot in the tournament. 

AFCON qualifiers format

To qualify for AFCON, teams must progress through a group stage qualification format.

First, the lowest-ranked teams had to push through a preliminary stage which consisted of 12 teams paired up in six matchups contested over two legs. The losers on aggregate goals were eliminated, while the six winners advanced to join 42 others in the group stage.

The remaining 48 teams were then grouped into 12 groups of four (Groups A-L), with each group playing round-robin matches.

The top two finishers in each group advance to AFCON, while the bottom two in each group are eliminated. This produces the 24 qualifiers who will reach the final tournament.

Ivory Coast have already qualified for AFCON as hosts, but they are still playing in the qualification matches despite their spot being assured. Since Les Elephants are already through, only one qualifier can emerge from Group H. The highest finisher outside of Ivory Coast will earn that group's lone berth.

What are the groups?

The 24 teams have been split into six groups of four teams, with the hosts in Group A alongside three-time champions Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea and Guinea-Bissau.

Group B also contains a heavyweight match-up, with Mohamed Salah's Egypt, the most successful team in the competition's history, drawn against Ghana, currently coached by former Newcastle and Brighton boss Chris Hughton.

Holders Senegal have drawn Cameroon in Group C in one of the most tantalising early fixtures.

Morocco, who became the first side from the continent to reach a World Cup semi-final in Qatar in 2022, are the highest African nation in the world rankings (13th) - but have not won a Nations Cup since 1976.

Walid Regragui's side faces former winners DR Congo and Zambia and East Africa's sole representative Tanzania in Group F.

Group A: Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau.

Group B: Egypt, Ghana, Cape Verde, Mozambique.

Group C: Senegal, Cameroon, Guinea, The Gambia.

Group D: Algeria, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Angola.

Group E: Tunisia, Mali, South Africa, Namibia.

Group F: Morocco, DR Congo, Zambia, Tanzania.

Six stadiums will be used in five host cities, with two in Abidjan.

Alassane Ouattara Stadium, Abidjan (capacity 60,000)

Felix Houphouet-Boigny Stadium, Abidjan (capacity 33,000)

Charles Konan Banny Stadium, Yamoussoukro (capacity 20,000)

Stade de la Paix, Bouake (capacity 40,000)

Amadou Gon Coulibaly Stadium, Korhogo (capacity 20,000)

Laurent Pokou Stadium, San Pedro (capacity 20,000)

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