AFCON 2023: Everything you need to know about the semi-finalists
The 2023 Africa Cup of Nations started with 24 teams, and we are now down to the best four teams on the continent. This edition of the tournament has been described by a lot of people as the best since its first edition in 1957.
Football lovers around the continent have seen underdogs slay the so-called giants in the previous round of the tournament. However, one thing is certain: we will not see a new name on the trophy because each of the semi-finalists has at least won the tournament in the past.
We have decided to take you through what to expect from our semi-finalists.
(1) Ivory Coast
The Ivorians started the competition like a house on fire when they won their opening group game against Guinea Bissau but things went they lost back-to-back against Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria. They had to wait for the final group games to be complete before knowing if they would qualify for the round of 16.
This performance led to the sacking of their head coach, Jean-Loius Gasset, the Ivorian FA asked former player Emerse Fae to take over in the interim just in case they reach the knock-out stage.
Fae won his first game against the defending champions, Senegal to book his spot in the next round of the competition. However he took a big step by changing his starting lineup against Mali, he started with Kessie who was impressive after coming on against Senegal.
They were reduced to 10 men in the 43rd minute and went a goal down in the 71st minute but his management of the game has to be applauded. The Elephants equalized in the 90th minute and went ahead to knock Mali out by scoring in the added time after playing 120 minutes to set a date with DR Congo in the semi-final.
The Super Eagles of Nigeria have surpassed the expectations of a lot of their supporters back home following their poor form heading into the Africa Cup of Nations. The three-time AFCON Champions were in bad form from the 2021 edition of the competition going into this one which is being hosted in Ivory Coast.
Nigeria booked their spot in the semi-final of this AFCON and there have been a lot of questions if this is the same team that drew against Lesotho and Zimbabwe in the 2026 World Cup qualifying games having played dreadful football.
The only difference between both teams, before AFCON and the competition itself is Chippa United show-stopper, Stanley Nwabali. He has kept four clean sheets in the tournament equalling the same number as South Africa's goalkeeper, Rowen Williams.
Nigeria face South Africa in the semi-final, if he puts up a fantastic performance like he had done in the past then the Eagles will be playing the final game of the competition on Sunday, February 11, 2024.
(3) South Africa
The South Africans came into the competition as one of the least favourite teams because of the highly-ranked teams that were in the tournament. However, as they played each game, the path they were going through became clear to everyone.
The Bafana Bafana of South Africa would be looking to get revenge on the Super Eagles of Nigeria when both teams lock horns in the semi-final of the 2023 AFCON hosted in Cote d'Ivoire. They started the competition with a defeat against Mali before taking maximum points against Namibia and later sharing the spoils with Tunisia. The major highlight of their competition was when they went against all odds to beat Morocco in the round of 16.
Rowen Williams was the star of the moment in the quarter-final game against Cape Verde. He saved four penalties from the spot, making him the first in the competition to set up a date with the Super Eagles.
Nigeria stopped South Africa from reaching the final of the Nations Cup, which was co-hosted by Ghana and Nigeria in 2000. The history between both sides will set up an entertaining semi-final clash on Wednesday, February 7, 2024.
(4 ) DR Congo
The Democratic Republic of Congo is not stranger when it comes to winning the Africa Cup of Nations. The last time they won it was in 1974 when they were known as Zaire. Congo is the least favourite team to book a spot in the final of the AFCON 2023 compared with the history of another country in the semi-final.
Congo booked their spot in the round of 16 having drawn all their group games against Zambia, Morocco and Tanzania. However, the major highlight of Congo at this tournament was their victory over Egypt in the Round of 16 which they won on penalties.
DR Congo beat Guinea 3-1 in the quarter-final to set a date with the host country, Cote d'Ivoire in the semi-finals.