AFCON 2023: The good, the bad and the ugly 

The 2023 edition of the African Cup of Nations was one to always live in the minds of football fanatics around the world.

Away from the surprises including the hosts Ivory Coast winning the tournament after a dismal start, the 2023 AFCON will go down in history as one of the best.

Team of the tournament


Ronwen Williams (South Africa)


William Troost-Ekong (Nigeria)

Kialonda Gaspar (Angola)

Logan Costa (Cape Verde Islands)


Simon Adingra (Ivory Coast)

Teboho Mokoena (South Africa)

Franck Kessié (Ivory Coast)

Samuel Moutoussamy (Congo DR)


Ademola Lookman (Nigeria)

Emilio Nsue (Equatorial Guinea)

Sébastien Haller (Ivory Coast).

Coaching mayhem

The 2023 edition of the AFCON was a nightmare for coaches, especially those whose teams performed poorly.

Many of them were sacked.

Adel Amrouche

The Tanzanian tactician was the first to be shown the exit from the AFCON.

The Tanzanian Football Association announced the sacking of the team’s head coach who had received an 8-match ban from CAF following his shocking comments about Morocco.

Jean-Louis Gasset

Following the 4-0 defeat against Equatorial Guinea, Ivorian football association sacked their head coach, Jean-Louis Gasset  two days later.

The sacking came after the Elephants suffered  the heaviest home defeat in their history but for also becoming the first  Afcon host to lose two group games since they did so in 1984.

One of  Gasset’s technical advisors, Emerse Fae would later take charge of the team and guided them to winning the title.

Rui Vitoria

Rui Vitoria’s tenure as the head coach of Egypt came to an abrupt end after the team’s exit in the last 16.

The Pharaohs had stumbled to the second round after a disappointing group stage and were unable to get a win in normal time during the competition. 

Egypt was eliminated by DR Congo in a penalty shootout in the knockout stages, burying their hopes of an eighth AFCON title

Following their exit, the coach was also shown the exit door.

Chris Hughton

The Ghana Football Association sacked  Chris Hughton, the head coach of the Black Stars of Ghana, but  also announced the dissolution of the technical team  following Ghana’s poor performance at the AFCON 2O23.

Ghana had one of their worst campaigns in AFCON 2023 considering the rich history of the team.

Tom Saintfiet

Following Gambia’s exit from the 2023 edition of AFCON, the 50 year old Belgian announced his resignation from the position of the national team coach.

The Scorpions’ final game in Group C against Cameroon ended with a score of 3-2 in favour of their opponents and after this, Saintfiet threw in the towel.

Djamel Belmadi

Algeria dismissed their head coach Djamel Belmadi immediately following their elimination in the group stage of the 2023 African Cup of Nations (AFCON).

Algeria lost to Mauritania 1-0 and drew twice against Angola and Burkina Faso, finishing last in the group with only two points.

The coach was shown the exit for this dismal display.

Jalel Kadri

The Tunisian head coach was among those who didn’t survive beyond the 2023 AFCON after stepping down following poor results by the team.

Tunisia, who had been considered one of the favourites to win the tournament, finished last in their group, failing to win a single match.

Hosts win trophy

Little known Emerse Fae who had been a technical advisor surprised many  when he guided Ivory Coast to winning the title during the tournament that his team hosted.

After a desultory group-stage performance that saw the head coach sacked, Fae was appointed on the interim basis as coach.

He then oversaw Ivory Coast qualify to the knockouts as the fourth best third place team, having won only one and lost twice in the group stages.

On the round of 16, Ivory Coast needed an 86th minute equalizer to ensure the game went into extra time where they eliminated favourites Senegal on penalties.

In the quarterfinals, Ivory Coast played with 10 men from the 43rd minute and scored a 9th minute equalizer, before scoring in stoppage time of the extra time to eliminate Mali.

In the semifinals, the Elephants beat DR Congo, thanks to a 65th minute winner to ensure the team stormed the finals.

In the finals, Ivory Coast defied odds to beat favourites to win the trophy.

Individual awards

Nigerian captain Nigeria William Troost-Ekong was voted the player of the tournament, having led his team to their first final appearance since 2013.

The 30-year-old’s three goals throughout the tournament stand as a record for defenders in the past two decades.

Emilio Nsue, captain and striker for Equatorial Guinea, took home the Golden Boot with five goals.

He netted a hat-trick against Cote d’Ivoire Coast in the group stage, becoming the oldest player to achieve the feat in AFCON history.

Best keeper

Ronwen Williams (South Africa)

Best coach

Emerse Fae (Cote d’Ivoire)

Best young player

Simon Adingra (Cote d’Ivoire)

Top scorer

Emilio Nsue (Equatorial Guinea), 5 goals
Gelson Dala (Angola), 4 goals
Mostafa Mohamed (Egypt), 4 goals

Fair play

South Africa

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