Africa Initiates Soccer Frenzy with the Draw of AFCON Tournament

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By Eniola Olatunji.

…Super Eagles to open the COTE D’IVORE 24 Tournament against the Elephants.

The highest soccer frenzy in Africa was on Thursday ignited in Ivory Coast through the draws of AFCON 24 as the country hosts Africa after 40 years with arch rivals, Elephants of Ivory Coast scheduled to kick start the hostilities on the 13th of January 2024.

The African Cup of Nations AFCON is the highest platform of testing the might of National football in Africa. Nigeria’s Super Eagles who are three times champions in 1980; 1994 and 2013 swallowed saliva as the draw pitched her against the Elephants who were also champions in 1992 and 2015 in group A.

Still in Group A are Equatorial Guinea and Guinea Bissau who are stubborn customers of the Super Eagles.

In Ivory Coast as special guests to witness the draws of the competition that runs from 13th January to 11th February 2024 are former Super Eagles Captain, Mikel Obi; former Elephants Captain, Yaya Toure; hard tackiling defender, Taribo West of Nigeria and the man they call ‘AGAMA Lizard’ because of his hairstyles, Aristide Bance of Mali.

Africa’s most successful team at AFCON, the Pharaohs of Egypt that has lifted the trophy seven times three of which were back to back in 2006, 2008 and 2010 will be opening the Group B matches against four times champions, the Black Stars of Ghana.

Two other dangerous teams in Cape Verde and Mozambique who could turn tables are also in group B.

Group C is expected to be volatile with the clash of two Lions, Defending Champions, The Teranga Lions of Senegal versus the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon opening the group. It will be wonderful to see the forays of never say die Cameroonian Captain, Vincent Abubakar with the solid defence of Senegal and how goalkeeper Onana who may return to the Cameroonian squad against sleekly Senegalese Captain, Sadio Mane.

Incidentally Cameroon won her first title in Ivory Coast in 1984 but went on to winning four more times in 1988, 2000, 2002 (back to back) and 2017. The Cameroonians are next most successful team after Egypt and their performance at the last world cup indicates Cameroon, if they put their house in order may have an encore of championship.

Senegal won only once in the last championship but that country and Morocco are the current stars of African football. Senegal won the U20 cup and Morocco is in the eye of the world being the only African team to have reached the semis at the world cup.

The rising profile of the Scorpions of Gambia whose stings are lethal with old Horses, Sylli Stars of Guinea will be wonderful supporting matches or bouts in Group C as Boxers speak.

Not much is expected from Group D where the Desert Foxes of Algeria is expected to dis-virgin the group against the Stallions of Burkina Faso. Green horns Mauritius and known Basketball country, Angola are there in the group. Algerians were champions twice in 1990 and 2019.

Group E belongs to perennial table shakers as African Champions in 2004, Tunisia will face the Eagles of Mali to open the womb of the group. Two South African teams, 1996 champions, Bafana Bafana of South Africa and the Namibians are in that group.

Morocco is expected to dominate Group F. The 1976 Champions are currently in form against the likes DR Congo, Zambia and the Taifa Stars of Tanzania. It is a group of ‘wait and see’.

Two topmost teams in each group and four lucky losers will make 16 teams that are expected to appear from the Group Stages to continue the tournament on Knockout basis.

The Super Eagles of Nigeria will meet the Green Falcons of Saudi Arabia in an international friendly encounter in faraway Portugal at 1700 hours of Friday 13th October.

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