AFCON 2023 begins with four thrilling opening games

The 2023 Africa Cup of Nations opening ceremony lived up to the hype following the display of spectacular cultural performances and musical acts.

It is hosted by Cote d’Ivoire from 13 January – 11 February 2024, the second time it has done so since its first in 1984. The Elephants are looking for their third continental title.

The opening performances from local dance troupes and top music artists such as Dadju and Tay C as well as Yemi Alade left the stadium in full excitement. There were also displays of masquerades and a rich showcase of Ivorian culture through their colours and fireworks.

AFCON, Cote d'Ivoire, Abidjan, Guinea Bissau
Yemi Alade and Magic System perform at AFCON opening ceremony. Credit: @FootballTribeHQ Source: Twitter

The entire Stade Alassane Outarra stadium was a spectacle as fans got value for money. Meanwhile, the President of the country delivered a message of peace and solidarity and was delighted to welcome Africa to Abidjan.

Among the guests were members of Confederation of African Football (CAF), members of the diplomatic corps, presidents of legislative and judicial institutions, members of government including the president of COCAN 2023 and the presidents of CAF and FIFA.

Cote d’Ivoire opened AFCON with solid win over Guinea-Bissau

Cote d’Ivoire began their CAF Africa Cup of Nations campaign in style by beating Guinea-Bissau 2-0 in Saturday, Jan 13, night’s opening match in Abidjan. The Elephants wasted no time asserting dominance on home soil, taking the lead after just four minutes through Seko Fofana.

The Lens midfielder pounced on a loose ball outside the box and unleashed a superb strike beyond goalkeeper Jonas Mendes. Fofana almost grabbed a second but saw his powerful effort cannon off the crossbar on 35 minutes as Cote d’Ivoire ended the first half on top.

Guinea-Bissau posed an occasional threat on the counter but the Ivorians remained firmly in control after the break. The hosts deservedly extended their advantage just before the hour mark when substitute Jean-Philippe Krasso acrobatically fired home after great work from Jonathan Bamba.

Krasso’s clinical finish put the result beyond doubt as Cote d’Ivoire confidently saw out victory in their tournament opener. But on the evidence of this composed performance, Cote d’Ivoire have the quality in depth to target long-awaited continental glory on home soil.

Equatorial Guinea frustrated Nigeria with a 1-1 stalemate

Osimhen rescues a point for Super Eagles against resilient Equatorial Guinea on Sunday afternoon Jan 14, after both sides kicked off their CAF Africa Cup of Nations Group A matches at Ebimpe’s Alassane Ouattara Olympic Stadium.

A composed finish by Ivan Salvador in the 36th minute saw Equatorial Guinea shock the Super Eagles with the lead. The celebrations were short-lived as Nigerian hitman, Victor Osimhen levelled matters with a difficult header that found its way into an empty net to salvage a point for the Nigerians.

With the crowd behind them, Nigeria went in search of the second and were almost rewarded in the 45th minute when Moses Simon’s well struck effort came off the upright to the relief of Equatorial Guinea.

Coming in the second half, both sides hardly troubled each other’s goals, with both set of defenders doing well to remain disciplined. Up next for Nigeria is a clash that all of Africa will be waiting for with bated breath as they take on tournament hosts, Cote d’Ivoire who opened their campaign with a clinical 2-0 win over Guinea-Bissau on Saturday evening.

Equatorial Guinea on the other hand will be encouraged by the point when they face a wounded Guinea-Bissau.

Cape Verde stun Ghana with a 2-1 victory

Garry Rodrigues scored late to hand Cape Verde all three points against the Black Stars of Ghana in their first game of the CAF Africa Cup of Nations Côte d’Ivoire 2023. 

Cape Verde took a deserved lead in the 17th minutes through Jamiro Monteiro. The San Jose Earthquakes midfielder was in the penalty box to tap home from a loose ball from goalkeeper, Richard Ofori. 

Ghana’s midfielder, Majeed Ashimeru had what could have been an equalizer disallowed after VAR checks by referee Jean Jacques Ndola Ngambo. Alexander Djiku got the equalizer for Ghana, 11 minutes into the second half. The defender headed in from a Jordan Ayew ball to draw Ghana level. 

After scoring, Djiku cleared his lines when a Cape Verde effort beat Richard Ofori. With just 6 minutes to end the game, substitute, Garry Rodrigues restored Cape Verde’s lead after e capitalized on a defensive blunder from the Ghanaian defense to tap into an empty net. 

Cape Verde are now top of Group D with three points. Ghana will play Egypt next Thursday, 18 January at the Stade Félix Houphouët Boigny.

Late Salah penalty rescues Egypt in a 2-2 game against Mozambique

Egypt captain, Mohammed Salah scored late to rescue Egypt from a Mozambique shock in their opening group D game of the CAF Africa Cup of Nations Côte d’Ivoire 2023. It took the 7-time champions just two minutes to get into the lead thanks to Mohamed Mostafa’s strike.

Mohammed Salah failed to connect to a cross from Mohammed Hamdi but Mostafa was just there to swivel a shot into the bottom corner. Mostafa once again was put through by Salah but his final effort was saved by goalkeeper Ernan Siluane.

Mozambique came close to getting their first goal after Mohamed Abdelmonem was forced to put the ball into his own net but El Shenawy managed to save the situation.

The Mambas came into the second half much stronger. Witness Quembo headed home the equalizer for Mozambique. A bullet header beat the palm of El Shenawy after a lovely cross from Domingos on the 55th minutes

The goal is Mozambique’s first in the last 14 years. Three minutes later, Clesio Bauque added Mozambique’s second. He broke through the Egyptian to set up a one-on-one with Mohamed El Shenawy to score. Domingos Macandza brought down Mostafa Mohammed in the closing stages of the game and after VAR review, Egypt were awarded a penalty. Salah stepped up and scored for Egypt to draw them level.

Egypt will play Ghana on Thursday January 18 at the Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium.

Source: CAF Online

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