Who will win the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations? The Opta supercomputer has delivered its 2023 AFCON predictions as tournament hosts Ivory Coast look to dethrone reigning champions Senegal.

Better late than never, the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations kicks off on Saturday, with 24 teams competing to be crowned kings of the continent. 

Hosts Ivory Coast get the tournament – which was pushed back due to weather concerns after originally being scheduled for last summer – underway against Guinea-Bissau, with Nigeria, Egypt and Ghana also in action on the opening weekend.

Will the tournament bring a first international title for Mohamed Salah, or can his former Liverpool teammate Sadio Mané help Senegal defend the trophy?

Will Ivory Coast impress on home soil, or could Victor Osimhen fire Nigeria to glory?

As Africa gears up for a festival of football, we’ve got all those questions covered in our Africa Cup of Nations predictions below. Comprehensive, data-driven group-by-group previews can be found here.

AFCON 2023 Predictions

  • Holders Senegal are our favourites, with the Opta supercomputer giving the Lions of Teranga a 12.8% chance of defending the trophy.
  • Ivory Coast are assigned a 12.1% chance of becoming the first home victors since Egypt in 2006.
  • Morocco (11.1%) are the supercomputer’s third favourites after becoming the first African side to reach the FIFA World Cup semi-finals in 2022.
  • Algeria are fourth favourites with a 9.7% chance of glory, while Egypt (8.5%), Nigeria (8.1%), Cameroon (7.4%), Tunisia (6.3%) and Ghana (5.3%) are the other teams with hopes rated above 5%.
AFCON 2023 Predictions - Opta

AFCON 2023 Favourites


Where else to start but with the champions? No team has defended the AFCON trophy since Egypt won a third straight title in 2010, but Aliou Cissé’s team could be set for another deep run.

They will have to navigate Group C, which also includes Gambia, Cameroon and Guinea, who boast Stuttgart’s in-form striker Serhou Guirassy. The holders are given an 88.8% chance of reaching the last 16 and a 47.4% likelihood of topping their group.

AFCON 2023 Predictions - Group C

Having scored the winning spot-kick against Egypt after a goalless draw in the final of the delayed 2021 tournament in 2022, Mané will wear the captain’s armband again. His eight goals since moving to the Saudi Pro League only put him third among Al-Nassr players this season, with Cristiano Ronaldo boasting 20 and Talisca hitting 11.

However, he leads all players in the league for open-play expected assists (xA) per 90 minutes, with 0.32. If Mané can create the chances, he’ll feel he has teammates capable of putting them away.

Salernitana’s Boulaye Dia has 20 Serie A goals from 12.4 expected goals (xG) since the start of last season, with only Inter’s Lautaro Martínez (+8.7) recording a better overperformance during that time. Dia boasts a shot conversion rate of 27% during that time, the highest of any Serie A player to hit at least 12 goals.

Boulaye Dia Serie A xG map

It’s been a different story for Nicolas Jackson, who has been criticised for his wastefulness since joining Chelsea, netting seven Premier League goals from 10.59 xG.

Jackson has a knack for getting into the right areas, though, averaging the fourth highest xG per 90 among all players to play 600+ minutes in the Premier League this term with 0.66, behind Erling Haaland (0.81), Callum Wilson (0.71) and Darwin Núñez (0.70).

Édouard Mendy and company kept five clean sheets in seven games at the last AFCON and should provide a solid base. If their star-studded frontline clicks, Senegal should be there or thereabouts.

Opta Predictions – Senegal

  • Group winner – 47.4%
  • Reach last 16 – 88.8%
  • Reach quarter-finals – 57.2%
  • Reach semi-finals – 36.5%
  • Reach final – 21.7%
  • Winner – 12.8%

Ivory Coast

One of Africa’s traditional heavyweights, Ivory Coast have not been beyond the AFCON quarter-finals since last winning the tournament in 2015. On home soil, they are our second favourites to win their third title, triumphing in 12.1% of the supercomputer’s tournament simulations.  

Jean-Louis Gasset’s team will be confident of seeing off Guinea-Bissau and Equatorial Guinea in Group A, and a meeting with Nigeria could decide top spot. The hosts are given a 38.5% chance of finishing first compared to the Super Eagles’ 40.1%, but the supercomputer clearly gives the edge to the Ivorians when it comes to the knockout stages. They have a 53.4% chance of making the quarter-finals, a slight tick above Nigeria’s 48.5%.

AFCON 2023 Predictions - Group A

English audiences will be familiar with many of Les Éléphants’ stars, including Brighton and Hove Albion’s Simon Adingra. Adingra must give opposition full-backs sleepless nights, having recorded 14 chance-creating carries in the Premier League this term. Only Kaoru Mitoma (24) and João Pedro (15) have more for the Seagulls.

Alongside Sébastien Haller, Ivory Coast can also call upon Max Gradel – who is participating at his seventh AFCON – and Jérémie Boga, who has starred for Nice in Ligue 1 this term. He has averaged 11.8 progressive carries per 90 in the competition, with his per-90 progressive carry distance of 135.9 metres only bettered by PSG’s Ousmane Dembélé (212.2), Moses Simon (157.8) and Edon Zhegrova (142.7, minimum 900 minutes played).

The hosts also boast an outstanding up-and-coming centre-back in Sporting CP’s Ousmane Diomande, who has been linked with Arsenal and Newcastle United.

Among all defenders in Portugal’s Primeira Liga, the 20-year-old ranks second for total carries (272), and fourth for total carry distance (2,736 metres), progressive carries (150) and progressive carry distance (1,527 metres) this campaign.

Should Ivory Coast reach the final in Abidjan on 11 February, their fans should at least be prepared for a tense finish. Les Éléphants’ previous AFCON final wins both came via spot-kicks after goalless draws with Ghana in 1992 and 2015. The scorelines in those shoot-outs? 11-10 and 9-8!

Opta Predictions – Ivory Coast  

  • Group winner – 38.5%
  • Reach last 16 – 84.6%
  • Reach quarter-finals – 53.4%
  • Reach semi-finals – 33.4%
  • Reach final – 19.9%
  • Winner – 12.1%


Morocco have not been champions of African football since 1976, but they are our third favourites after stunning the globe with a fourth-place finish at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Having been drawn into Group F alongside Tanzania, DR Congo and Zambia, Walid Regragui’s team are given an 11.1% chance of lifting the trophy.

Africa Cup of Nations 2023 Predictions - Group F

Morocco claimed the scalps of Spain and Portugal with backs-to-the-wall defensive performances in Qatar, allowing the ninth-most passes per defensive action (18.3) at that tournament as they absorbed pressure before striking on the break.

Now-Manchester United midfielder Sofyan Amrabat made the most recoveries (57) of any player at that World Cup and should play a prominent role again, though Morocco may require a more proactive approach against inferior opponents.

Azzedine Ounahi – whose five chance-creating carries were only bettered by Kylian Mbappé (eight) and Lionel Messi (six) in Qatar – should offer dynamism in midfield, while right-back Achraf Hakimi will bring additional creativity.

Only Dembélé (54) has created more chances than Hakimi (42) for Paris Saint-Germain in 2023-24, while his 14 chance-creating carries have only been bettered by Dembélé (29) and Mbappé (15) among his teammates.

Achraf Hakimi - Chances Created PSG 2023-24

Morocco top Group F in 53.6% of our tournament simulations and doing so could put them on the path to a quarter-final rematch with Egypt, who eliminated them at that stage of the 2021 AFCON.

Opta Predictions – Morocco

Group winner – 53.6%
Reach last 16 – 89.7%
Reach quarter-finals – 55.6%
Reach semi-finals – 33.2%
Reach final – 19.3%
Winner – 11.1%


Two-time AFCON champions Algeria are always among the favourites and the supercomputer gives them a 9.7% chance of glory, which would make up for their dismal group-stage exit at the last edition.

Boss Djamel Belmadi survived that campaign and will be demanding more after Algeria were drawn into Group D, alongside Angola, Burkina Faso and Mauritania. The Desert Foxes’ 57.5% chance of topping their group is the highest assigned to any team at the tournament.

2023 Africa Cup of Nations Predictions - Group D

Riyad Mahrez will captain the 1990 and 2019 winners, having recorded 15 goal involvements (eight goals, seven assists) in 19 league appearances for Al-Ahli since leaving Manchester City.

Mahrez was an ultra-reliable performer throughout five years at the Etihad Stadium, contributing to 134 goals at an average of one every 113 minutes. Could the 32-year-old be set for one last hurrah on the international stage?

Teammate Mohamed Amoura could enjoy a breakout tournament after starring for Belgian Pro League leaders Union Saint-Gilloise. Amoura has 13 goals in 15 league matches this season, averaging one every 65.9 minutes. That is easily the best minutes-per-goal ratio in the league among players with a minimum of 270 minutes, with his club-mate Gustaf Nilsson second (96.1).

Mohammed Amoura goals per 90 - Belgian Pro League

Algeria claimed the most points of any side during qualifying (16) and will certainly back themselves to improve on their last AFCON performance.

Opta Predictions – Algeria 

Group winner – 57.5%
Reach last 16 – 91.5%
Reach quarter-finals – 56.1%
Reach semi-finals – 30.9%
Reach final – 17.4%
Winner – 9.7%


The most successful team in AFCON history with seven titles, Egypt are ranked as fifth favourites by the supercomputer as they look to atone for their final defeat to Senegal two years ago, when Salah was memorably denied the chance to take their fifth penalty.

Salah has never won this trophy, but he could become the first Egyptian to score at four different AFCON tournaments, having previously netted at the 2017, 2019 and 2021 editions.

Salah is enjoying an outstanding campaign with Liverpool, averaging 0.72 goals per 90 in the Premier League this season, a figure he has only bettered in 2017-18 (0.99) and 2021-22 (0.75). He now sits tenth in the competition’s all-time goalscoring charts with 153.

While Salah remains Egypt’s talisman, Rui Vitória has other attackers capable of sharing the load. Nantes striker Mostafa Mohamed has 16 Ligue 1 goals since the start of last season and should add a focal point, with five of those efforts coming via headers. Since the start of 2022-23, only Loïs Openda and Jérémy Le Douaron (six) have more headed goals in Ligue 1.

Omar Marmoush is also a man in form, netting 12 goals for Eintracht Frankfurt in 2023-24. Among Bundesliga players, only Bayern’s Harry Kane (25), Guirassy (19), Victor Boniface (16) and Openda (15) have more across all competitions.

2023 AFCON Predictions - Group B

Egypt are given a 47.2% chance of topping Group B, though they could have a battle on their hands as a clash with Ghana (32.1%) is sandwiched between fixtures against Mozambique and Cape Verde.

Keeping West Ham forward Mohammed Kudus quiet will be key when Egypt face the Black Stars. Of all players with at least three Premier League goals this campaign, only three average more non-penalty goals per 90 than Kudus’ 0.56, namely Chris Wood (0.74), Haaland (0.70) and Wilson (0.62).

Opta Predictions – Egypt

Group winner – 47.2%
Reach last 16 – 88.0%
Reach quarter-finals – 53.9%
Reach semi-finals – 29.6%
Reach final – 16.0%
Winner – 8.5%


After winning their third AFCON in 2013, Nigeria failed to qualify for the 2015 and 2017 editions, then finished third in 2019 and suffered a last-16 exit at the hands of Tunisia last time out. Boss José Peseiro will be confident of a better display this time around should his star attackers click.

Napoli talisman Osimhen was the leading scorer in qualification, with his 10 goals at least twice as many as any other player (four players had five). Since the last AFCON ended on February 6, 2022, just four players have scored more goals in the big five European leagues than Osimhen’s 42 – Mbappé (65), Kane (63), Haaland (56) and Martínez (47).

The injury to fellow striker Victor Boniface will place added onus on Osimhen’s ability to lead Nigeria’s attack. Boniface is undoubtedly a big loss for Peseiro’s side: the Bayer Leverkusen striker has 10 goals and seven assists in 16 Bundesliga appearances this term, with only Leroy Sané (eight) bettering that latter tally. Nice’s Terem Moffi has been called up to replace him.

Still, the Super Eagles have plenty of dynamism behind that duo, with only nine Premier League players bettering Alex Iwobi’s tally of 13 shot-ending carries for Fulham in 2023-24. Atalanta’s Ademola Lookman should start off the left, and he ranks second in Serie A for open-play goals per 90 this campaign (0.56), behind only Martínez (0.94).

The Nigerians have a 8.1% chance of lifting the trophy, though they must first navigate a tricky Group A, facing Equatorial Guinea and Guinea-Bissau either side of a clash with the hosts on January 18.

AFCON 2023 Predictions - Group A

Opta Predictions – Nigeria

Group winner – 40.1%
Reach last 16 – 85.3%
Reach quarter-finals – 48.5%
Reach semi-finals – 27.6%
Reach final – 15.3%
Winner – 8.1%


Cameroon’s five AFCON titles are only bettered by Egypt’s seven, and the Pharaohs inflicted home heartbreak on the Indomitable Lions two years ago. Cameroon failed to convert three of their four spot-kicks as they lost a semi-final shoot-out in Yaoundé.

With their former defender Rigobert Song at the helm, Cameroon are given a 7.4% chance of lifting the trophy, though that will surely increase if they overcome Senegal on Matchday 2 in Group C.

AFCON 2023 Predictions - Group C

Manchester United’s André Onana will be between the sticks after reversing his international retirement last September, and while he was criticised over a series of high-profile UEFA Champions League errors, his shot-stopping statistics speak for themselves.  

Onana’s save percentage of 71.9% is the third highest among Premier League goalkeepers in 2023-24, and according to Opta’s expected goals on target (xGOT) model, his figure of 3.8 goals prevented puts him fourth in the division.

Andre Onana Premier League goals prevented - 2023-24

At the other end, Cameroon will again be captained by 2021’s Golden Boot winner Vincent Aboubakar. He scored eight goals from 13 shots on target across seven games two years ago, while Karl Toko Ekambi netted five times. With an ankle injury sidelining Brentford’s Bryan Mbeumo, the two 31-year-olds will carry Cameroon’s hopes again.

In Napoli’s André-Frank Zambo Anguissa, Cameroon also boast a box-to-box midfielder capable of turning defence into attack in an instant, with no player in Serie A winning possession to start shot-ending sequences more often in 2023-24 than him (10 times).

Opta Predictions – Cameroon

Group winner – 33.5%
Reach last 16 – 82.3%
Reach quarter-finals – 47.6%
Reach semi-finals – 27.8%
Reach final – 14.9%
Winner – 7.4%

A Word on Group E

Tunisia (6.3%) are one of the sides that make up an extremely evenly-matched Group E. Mali (3.7%) are also in there, as well as South Africa (2.1%) and Namibia (0.5%).

Despite being one of the biggest outsiders, Namibia still have a very credible 42.4% of at least getting out of Group E.

Such is the parity of this group on paper that Tunisia – who are favourites to progress to the last 16 – have an 84.6% chance of doing so. That’s the lowest mark of any of the group favourites to make it through to the knockout stages.

Africa Cup of Nations Predictions - Group E

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