Afcon 2023: Holders Senegal drawn with Cameroon while Nigeria meet hosts Ivory Coast

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The Senegal football team beat Egypt in the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations final to win the tournament for the first time
Senegal beat Egypt in the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations final to win the tournament for the first time

Holders Senegal have drawn Cameroon in the group stage of the delayed 2023 Africa Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast next year.

At a star-studded ceremony in Abidjan on Thursday, the defending champions were drawn in Group C, where they will also face neighbours The Gambia and Guinea.

Senegal and former Liverpool forward Sadio Mane was among the African football legends drawing the teams.

“It’s a really difficult group,” Mane said at the end of the presentation.

“Cameroon is going to be really tough but we will give our best to go through in the first round.”

World Cup semi-finalists and 2025 hosts Morocco are the highest-placed team in Fifa’s rankings, in 13th. The Atlas Lions will face DR Congo, Zambia and Tanzania.

Morocco’s Achraf Hakimi, who was selected in the 2021 Afcon Team of the Tournament, was also part of the group drawing the balls.

“We will try to do our best during this Afcon, similar to what we did in the World Cup,” Hakimi said.

“We have a good team, a good group and we will do our best to win.”

Hosts Ivory Coast drawn with Nigeria

Two-time African Footballer of the Year Didier Drogba, the former Chelsea and Ivory Coast striker, and 2013 Afcon winner with Nigeria, Jon Mikel Obi, were also drawing from the pots, and their two nations were pitted together.

The hosts Ivory Coast – winners in 1992 and 2015 – will open the tournament on 13 January against Guinea-Bissau, while Equatorial Guinea complete the group.

In other draw highlights, neighbours South Africa and Nambia have been drawn alongside Tunisia and Mali in Group E, which looks the most competitive of the tournament.

Mozambique, whose absence from the finals since 2010 is the longest of any team involved this time, will play in Group B alongside Mohamed Salah‘s Egypt, who missed out on an eighth title on penalties in the 2021 final to Senegal. Ghana and Cape Verde complete the group.

Originally scheduled to be held in June and July 2023, the tournament was moved because of concerns about playing it in the rainy season.

Two stadiums in the Ivorian capital Abidjan, one in Bouake plus three newly built venues in Korhogo, San Pedro and Yamoussoukro will be used in the tournament.

The Nations Cup which features 24 teams and runs from 13 January until 11 February, will see the winners and runners-up in each of the six groups, plus the best four third-placed teams, reach the knockout phase.

Despite now being played in 2024, it has kept 2023 as part of its official title.

The Alassane Ouattara Stadium in Abidjan will host the final on 11 February.

Africa Cup of Nations 2023 draw:

  • Group A: Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau.

  • Group B: Egypt, Ghana, Cape Verde, Mozambique.

  • Group C: Senegal, Cameroon, Guinea, The Gambia.

  • Group D: Algeria, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Angola.

  • Group E: Tunisia, Mali, South Africa, Namibia.

  • Group F: Morocco, DR Congo, Zambia, Tanzania.

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