Afcon 2023 first round
review per Group.
By:Prince Morake

It means all 24 participants have one
game under the belt and already there are
several who will be taking out their
calculators to figure out their various

The top two finishers in each of the six
groups advance along with the four best
third placed teams, meaning that only
eight teams go home when the first round
ends next week.

This is the state of affairs after the opening
five days of the tournament:


Hosts Ivory Coast got off to the start that
the home fans were hoping for although
played in a languid fashion as they battled
with the heat and humidity in Saturday’s
opening game against Guinea Bissau. It
took only minutes for the tournament’s first
goal, and it was a blinder from Seko
Fofana, setting just the right tone.

But hopes that it might lead to a goal fest
did not materialise until Jean-Philippe
Krasso added a second with a spectacular
individual effort. It was too hot to keep up
any tempo. Nigeria were also expected to
kick off with success against tiny
Equatorial Guinea but in Sunday’s game
at the Stade Olympique Alhassane
Ouattara they found themselves

behind when Iban Salvador scored. It left
the Super Eagles scrambling for a point,
which Victor Osimhen’s equaliser
delivered but a lot of criticism afterwards
for failing to secure the victor as they
missed plenty of good opportunity.


The opening two games at the Felix
Houphouet-Boigny Stadium on Sunday
produced sensational results as
Mozambique came within a minute of
beating Egypt and then the Cape Verde
Islands snatched a famous win over
Ghana. Mozambique had never won a
Cup of Nations finals match before and
were not expected to do so against the
record seven time winners Egypt. They
were quickly behind to a Mostafa
Mohamed goal but rallied to take a 2-1
lead through Witi and Clesio and were on

the cusp of a famous victory before a

challenge offered the Pharaohs a chance
to score after a VAR review.

Mohmed Salah predictably tucked away
the last gasp penalty. The drama then
continued as the Cape Verdians went
ahead early against Ghana, who fought
back to equalise but then could not finish
off the islanders. That proved costly as
Garry Rodrigues needed a brilliant late
winner past Orlando Pirates goalkeeper
Richard Ofori for a famous victory.


The quality of holders Senegal very
quickly rose to the fore, and they unveiled
a new star in 20-year-old Lamine Camara,
who netted two goals in a comfortable 3-0
victory over neighbours Gambia. Pape

Gueye, who had come back from a one-
year suspension after signing contracts

with two different clubs,

scored the first as he continued his career

Gambia’s cause was not helped by a red
card on the stroke halftime for Ebou
Adams for a clumsy challenge, awarded
after a VAR check. The same happened in
the second game in Yamousoukro when
Guinea captain Francois Kamano was
initially yellow carded but had it changed
to red after the referee reviewed the
incident. By then Guinea, without injured
star striker Serhou Guirassy, had gone
into the lead thorugh Mohamded Bayo but
Cameroon equalised with a back post
header from Franck Magri in the 51st


Algeria was coasting through their clash
with Angola on Monday before Nabil

Bentaleb gave away a needless penalty
and allowed

the Palancas Negras back into the game.
In the end, it was a 1-1 tie which means
the 2019 champions have now not won in
their past four finals matches since lifting
the trophy in Cairo two editions ago.

Riyad Mahrez was largely absent for
Algeria but Baghdad Bounejah re-inforced
his reputation upfront. He had a
spectacular bicycle kick effort ruled out for
offside, but it was close, Had it stood it
would have been an early contender for
goal of the tournament. The other two
protagonists in Bouake met at the Stade
de la Paix on Tuesday with a late penalty
seeing Burkina Faso to victory over
Mauritania. It was converted by Aston
Villa’s Bertrand Traore in the sixth minute
of stoppage time.


Namibia won a first ever Cup of Nations

game, in their fourth tournament, with a
stunning success over Tunisia, ensuring
the spoils when Pirates’ winger Deon
Hotto netted in the 88th minute. Peter
Shalulile had squandered two early
chances and Hotto was wasteful too.
Namibia could have won by a comfortable

Tunisia, who are the top seeds in the
group, were markedly poor and lack lustre.
South Africa began well against Mali and
dominated the first half exchanges and
should have been ahead when VAR
awarded then an 18th minute penalty. But
it was squandered by Percy Tau, who
blasted well wide. In the second half Mali
came alive and took charge with a robust
approach, riding rough shod over Bafana
with goals inevitably coming from Hamari
Traore and Lassine Sinyako.


Morocco were always going to be too
strong for Tanzania as they started their
opening game in San Pedro with a side
ladened with the stars from their World
Cup heroics in Qatar some 14 months
ago. Captain Romain Saiss scored before
halftime and once Tanzania were down to
10 men, after the dismissal of of Novatus
Miroshi , Morocco went onto score two
more and win 3-0. Azzedine Ounahi and
Youssef En-Nesyri added two more in the
space of three second-half minutes. The
Congolese dominated the encounter
against neighbours Zambia and
squandered a myriad of chances,
particularly late in the game, which ended
in a 1-1 draw.

Zambia’s goal came against the run of
play but with smart thinking that caught
the Congolese cold. Goalkeeper Lionel
Mpasi came dashing off his line to try and

intercept Zambia captain Patson Daka
dashing down

the left flank. The clash felled both players
and ball went out of play but Daka reacted
quickly to take the throw in, back to
teammate Kangwa, who hit it goalward
from well outside the Congolese penalty
area and watched in delight as it bounced
and into the empty net with Mpasi late in
getting back to his goal. The response
from the Congolese came within four
minutes as Yoane Wissa equalised