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AFCON 2023: Why Title Holders Senegal Must Learn From Nigeria, Morocco, Zambia, Sudan, Algeria, DR Congo

AFCON 2023: Why Title Holders Senegal Must Learn From Nigeria, Morocco, Zambia, Sudan, Algeria, DR Congo

On Saturday, 13 January, 2024, the 34th edition of the Africa Cup of Nations will get underway in Côte d’Ivoire.

Reigning champions Teranga Lions of Senegal have been tipped to retain the title after claiming it for the first time at the 2021 tournament in Cameroon.

However, things might not turn out as predicted as Completesports.com’s JAMES AGBEREBI highlights six countries who won the AFCON for the first time but crashed out in the group stage at the next edition.


Then known as Congo Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of Congo became AFCON champions in 1968 for the first time.

In the final played inside the Haile Selassie Stadium in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, DR Congo beat Ghana’s Black Stars 1-0 thanks to Pierre Kalala’s 66th minute goal.

But it was a tournament to forget for DR Congo at the 1970 AFCON in Sudan as they crashed out in the group stage.

Grouped with Egypt, Ghana and Guinea, the DR Congo finished bottom after losing two and drawing three of their group games.

Also Read: Popular Data Platform Opta Analyst Predicts AFCON 2023 Winner


Sudan’s first and only Africa Cup of Nations title was claimed on home soil at the 1970 edition.

A 12th minute goal by Hasabu El-Sagheer was enough to give Sudan a 1-0 win against Ghana’s Black Stars.

For Sudan, the following tournament held in 1972 in Cameroon was one to forget as they ended bottom in a group that had DR Congo, Morocco and Congo Brazzaville.


The Atlas Lions of Morocco became the second North African team, after Egypt, to be crowned AFCON champions when they landed their first and only title so far in 1976.

But it was a different ball game at the 1978 tournament held in Ghana as Morocco failed to go past the group stage.

Drawn in Group B with Uganda, Tunisia and Congo Brazzaville, Morocco finished third after one win, one draw and one defeat.

While Uganda and Tunisia progressed into the semi-finals, Morocco alongside Congo Brazzaville headed home.


As host, Nigeria won the AFCON title for the first time thanks to a 3-0 win against Algeria in the final.

A first half brace from Segun Odegbami and a second half strike from late Muda Lawal secured the win.

But at the 1982 edition, the Nigerian team placed third in Group B after recording one win and two defeats, hence crashed out.

Their only win was against Ethiopia (3-0), before losing to Algeria (2-1) and Zambia (3-0).


The Desert Foxes of Algeria hosted the AFCON in 1990 and emerged champions after beating Nigeria 1-0 in the final.

But it was a disappointing outing at the 1992 AFCON in Senegal as the Algerians went out in the group phase.

After losing 3-0 to eventual winners Côte d’Ivoire in their opening game, the Algerians could only play out a 1-1 draw with Congo Brazzaville in their second game.

The draw against Congo was not enough to seal qualification into the quarter-finals as they finished third in the three-team group.


After suffering heartbreaks in the 1974 and 1994 finals, losing to DR Congo and Nigeria respectively, Zambia eventually became AFCON champions at the 2012 tournament.

The Chipolopolo shocked favourites Côte d’Ivoire 8-7 on penalty shootout in the final to erase the disappointments of their previous two final appearance.

However, it was a tournament to forget for the Zambians at the 2013 edition in South Africa as they got booted out in the group stage.

Grouped alongside Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Ethiopia, Zambia drew all three of their games and placed third.

While Burkina Faso and Nigeria qualified for the quarter-finals, Zambia and Ethiopia booked early flight home.

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  • If care and caution is not taken by the Senegalese, they may not qualify from their group because all eyes on them.

    • That might not even be their undoing. I think past success (defending champions) could make them relax and take opponents for granted and not see them coming.

      That’s why Guardiola (even if I love Mou to bits) always seek to refresh his squad after every season to avoid complacency.

      Ideally, AFCON is in 2025 again, all things being equal so big guns might use this one to blood new players for “maturity” next year.

      Senegal squad is still mostly old men. E no go easy for them.

      I fear Maroc most especially after WC 2022 magic. Mali and hosts CIV are other possible candidates for champions. Their blood too hot.

      Ghana will still flatter to deceive, in my opinion. SA is already gone.

      In short, I see north Africa re-claiming the trophy. Not Tunisia though.

      • Edit:

        Senegal have a sprinkling of young players in their squad especially in their midfield and not the old men toga I wrote earlier.

        Yet, I still don’t see them go far. They have an unhappy coach who to me “has stayed too long on this mountain” so their FA can afford to owe him 6 months salaries.

        Only Musa, Ekong, Omueruo and Ajayi (3 are defenders but thankfully 2 were not born here) are on the other side of 30 in our team.

        The remaining 21 appear to still be in their 20’s. No pun intended.

        Brace up for “kids” (not the secondary school 12 nil drubbing team of abu Dhabi practice match) are likely to run rings around our aged defence using speed..

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