Ghana will head into the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament in Ivory Coast eager to end their long wait to lift the prestigious trophy. The Black Stars have had several near misses since their last success in 1982, finishing as runners-up in 1992, 2010 and 2015.
However, after exiting in the last-16 and group stage in the last two editions, Ghana undoubtedly have a point to prove this time around, and the quality in the squad means they are always going to attract bets to go long into the knockouts. They are one of the more fancied teams on sports betting sites that offer soccer odds to win the tournament, and will be desperate to give punters a run for their money.
With that in mind, we take a closer look at AFCON 23, before assessing whether Ghana can end their title drought at the tournament.
AFCON 23 – Schedule & Teams
The Confederation of African Football moved the tournament to early next year due to concerns over the summer weather conditions in Ivory Coast. AFCON 23 gets underway on January 13 and culminates with the final on February 11. The following 24 teams will feature in the group stage of the tournament:
- Ivory Coast
- South Africa
- Burkina Faso
- Equatorial Guinea
- Cape Verde
- DR Congo
AFCON 23 – Stadiums
Six stadiums in five cities will host the tournament. These are as follows:
- Abidjan Bouake - Alassane Ouattara Stadium
- Abidjan Bouake - Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium
- Bouake – Stade de la Paix
- Korhogo – Amadou Gon Coulibaly Stadium
- San Pedro – Laurent Pokou Stadium
- Yamoussoukro – Charles Konan Banny Stadium
AFCON 23 - Draw
The draw will be held on October 12, with the 24 teams drawn into six groups of four. The top two in each group qualify for the last-16 alongside the three best third-placed teams. The tournament runs as a straight knockout from this point, with extra-time and penalties used to determine the outcome where necessary. The seedings are as follows:
- Pot 1: Ivory Coast, Morocco, Senegal, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt.
- Pot 2: Nigeria, Cameroon, Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana, DR Congo.
- Pot 3: South Africa, Cape Verde, Guinea, Zambia, Equatorial Guinea,
- Pot 4: Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Namibia, Angola, Gambia,
AFCON 23 - Preview
Ghana claimed top spot in Group E during qualifying, collecting 12 points from their six matches to finish two points ahead of Angola. They were efficient rather than spectacular during the qualification phase, winning all three home matches and drawing each of their three games on the road.
Ghana showcased their potential at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, running Portugal close before edging a thrilling game against South Korea. They failed to advance to the last-16 after a 2-0 defeat against Uruguay in their final group game, but earned plenty of plaudits for the manner of their performances.
With attacking talents such as Mohammed Kudus and Inaki Williams in their ranks, Ghana undoubtedly have the ability to cause teams problems at AFCON 23. Their team spirit should stand them in good stead during the tournament, but whether that will be enough to win the title is debatable.
Seven-time winners Egypt could be a big threat to Ghana’s hopes of lifting the trophy, although they have flattered to deceive in recent years. They last won the tournament in 2010 and have been defeated in two of the last three finals despite being one of the bookmaker’s favourites on each occasion. However, with Liverpool striker Mohamed Salah leading a talented squad, Egypt will be extremely tough to beat in the latest edition of the tournament.
The same can be said for Senegal, who ended their long wait to win the AFCON title by defeating Egypt on penalties in the 2021 final. They breezed through their qualification group, picking 14 points from six matches to top the standings ahead of Mozambique. Their squad is packed with top performers including Sadio Mane, Nicolas Jackson, Ismaila Sarr, Kalidou Koulibaly and Edouard Mendy. Having reached the last-16 at the 2022 World Cup, Senegal will head into AFCON 23 expecting to retain their continental title.
Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Tunisia should also be competitive, while Nigeria and Algeria will also expect to at least make the knockout stage. Each of the aforementioned teams could all have their work cut out to lift the trophy, with Morocco fancied to win the title for the first time since 1976.
They were superb at Qatar 2022, becoming the first African team to progress to the semi-finals before coming up short against France. It would be no surprise to see them emerge victorious at AFCON 23 and they could be the value bet to get their hands on the trophy.
Ghana should also be dangerous if their top players click into gear and a run to the final is not beyond the realms of possibility.