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AFCON 2023: Nigeria, Egypt, Ghana, which favourite will stall first?

CAN 2023 Nigeria vs Guinée équatoriale
AFCON 2023: Nigeria, Egypt, Ghana, which favourite will stall first?

After Côte d'Ivoire, who held their nerve in Saturday's opening match against Guinea Bissau (2-0), Nigeria, Egypt and Ghana, three other contenders enter the fray this Sunday, January 14.

Côte d'Ivoire have not missed a beat in their opening game at AFCON 2023. The Super Eagles, with their armada of stars, meet the tough Equatorial Guinea team this Sunday from 14:00 GMT. The Nzalang don't come to this continental banquet often enough. This is only their 4th appearance, but each time they have invited themselves to the competition, they have knocked out a "big one": Senegal in 2012, Tunisia in 2015 and Algeria in 2021.

Tough and skilful, the Equatorial Guineans are usually very difficult to handle. They will need to be solid if they are to stand up to the Nigerian superstars. And especially Victor Osimhen. For the moment, the 2023 African Ballon d'Or winner has a complicated history with the AFCON. Included in the 23-man squad for Egypt in 2019, he played just 45 minutes in 7 matches for bronze medalists Nigeria. And at AFCON 2021, when he was due to lead the Super Eagles' attack, the Napoli player suffered a facial injury and was forced to withdraw.

Salah begins his mission

Just after Nigeria, it's the turn of African runners-up Egypt to kick off their competition against Mozambique in Group B. The Pharaohs, finalists 5 times in the last 9 editions, are desperate to claim their 8th star. Like Osimhen, Mohamed Salah, the star of the Egyptian national team, has a difficult relationship with the AFCON. Although he is undoubtedly the best Egyptian to have played in Europe, the Liverpool winger first failed to qualify Egypt for the 2012, 2013 and 2015 editions. He then suffered 3 disappointments at the finals, with two defeats in the final (2017 and 2021) and an elimination in the Round of 8 by Africa in his homeland in 2019. He therefore kicks off his "reconquest" mission against Mozambique, whom he last faced in 2013. He was the only scorer in that match in Matola (1-0).

Finally, to round off this second day of competition, Ghana face Cape Verde, still in Group B. The Black Stars did not shine in the previous edition, finishing last and without a win in a group comprising Morocco, Gabon and Comoros. This time, the Ghanaians are up against the Blue Sharks. Like Equatorial Guinea, Cape Verde don't often come to the AFCON, but when they do, they never come as expiatory victims.

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