Nigeria Fans during the 2023 African Cup Of Nations Qualifiers (AFCON) match between Nigeria and São Tomé and Príncipe. Source: Imago Images
Nigeria Fans during the 2023 African Cup Of Nations Qualifiers (AFCON) match between Nigeria and São Tomé and Príncipe. Source: Imago Images

AFCON 2024: This time for Africa

Football OlyBet 11.01.2024

A lot of top team owners, coaches, and supporters would probably say that the African Cup of Nations is a needless waste of time. Everyone who thinks so, please look away and be ashamed. Thank you. For the rest, another month of magic beckons.

The pressure’s on, you feel it
But you got it all, believe it

The best football song of all time? Possibly. The tenth most-viewed music video on YouTube, anyway. “Waka Waka,” a song by Shakira, was released for the 2010 World Cup, the first (and so far only) time Africa hosted the best of the best. The song was an instant hit, reaching number one in numerous countries.

For African national teams, it has never been quite as jolly. While the late Pele proclaimed in 1977 that an African team would win the World Cup before the year 2000, the continent has realistically never been competitive enough. Morocco made history in 2022 by making the semi-finals (and finishing fourth), but they were massive underdogs to achieve that.

This makes the local tussle all the more interesting. The Africa Cup of Nations or AFCON for short has produced 15 different winners in 33 tournaments, with five other teams making the final. The last seven tournaments have been won by seven different nations; Morocco and Tunisia, who come into 2024 ranked first and third on the continent, respectively, are not part of that list.

The AFCON is unpredictable, nicely balanced, and a lot of fun. So to stay true to the spirits of AFCON, a very incomplete preview of the 2024 tournament featuring just five teams based on some iconic hairstyles! In no particular order, of course.

Source: Imago Images


The once footballer, now pastor Taribo West (pictured) has long retired alongside a golden generation of the Super Eagles, featuring Jay-Jay Okocha and Nwankwo Kanu among others. Okocha won the Cup of Nations as a youngster in 1994, but the Olympic champions of 1996 could never replicate it at their primes. Nigeria had to wait 19 years until another triumph in 2013.

Now, they have a reason to believe again thanks to emerging stars. Led by Napoli striker Victor Osimhen, the options in attack are truly incredible with Samuel Chukwueze (Milan), Victor Boniface (Leverkusen), and Alex Iwobi (Fulham) also there. The defence can be leaky at times and their first-choice keeper plays in Cyprus, but few can match the Eagles going forward.

Source: Imago Images

DR Congo

The Democratic Republic of Congo is the second-largest country in Africa by land area, and fourth-biggest by population. One would expect them to compete at the highest level, but it rarely happens. They have not been to the World Cup since 1974, and their two African titles were celebrated in 1968 and 1974. Life was quite different back then – they were known as Zaire, a totalitarian dictatorship established via a military coup.

Their only successful outing this century was in 2015 when a rather unfancied squad won bronze thanks to the efforts of Yannick Bolasie, Dieumerci Mbokani, and 38-year-old goalkeeper Robert Kidiaba (pictured). This time around, the team lacks household names again. If only Romelu Lukaku, whose father Roger represented Zaire, would have chosen his parent’s homeland …

Source: Imago Images


For the most successful nation at AFCON – seven triumphs, with three of them consecutive in 2006, 2008, and 2010 – everything less than first place is seen as a failure. But they have failed again and again. In 2017, they lost in the final. In 2021, they lost another final, this time on penalties. It has been way, way too long for the Pharaohs.

If the ever-controversial Mohamed Zidan (pictured) helped the team win in both 2008 and 2010, it is now widely expected of his namesake Mohamed Salah to deliver. When he retires, he will do so as one of the greatest African players of all time, but bringing joy to the people will be his motivation for the next month. At 31, he might not get many more chances.

Source: Imago Images


The Black Stars have been regulars at the World Cup since 2006, famously being just an Asamoah Gyan penalty away from the semi-finals in 2010. They used to be consistent at the AFCON too: third in 2008, second in 2010, fourth in 2012 and 2013, second in 2015 again, fourth in 2017 … but they have not won in all since 1982. A whole generation ago.

But winning will not be their first objective this time. Mubarak Wakaso (pictured) was there two years ago when Ghana slumped to a new low – a 2-3 loss to debuting Comoros (!) in their last group game meant going home early. Have they bounced back? Well, in their last competitive game, a World Cup qualifier in November, they lost to … Comoros.

Source: Imago Images


This one could have been Guinea-Bissau, or Cape Verde, or Tanzania, but paying tribute to a player nicknamed “Loco” seemed apt. Manuel Cange (pictured) played for Angola when they were at the top of their game, meaning a lone World Cup appearance in 2006 coupled with quarter-final exits at AFCON in 2008 and 2010.

It is quite likely that none of the Angolan players will look or sound familiar. They are the outsiders of the tournament, but those are the teams every neutral loves to support. We all love a Cinderella run, and at AFCON, things tend to happen. Seeing players from Scottish League Two take on World Cup semi-finalists? Yes, please. Let’s go.


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