The 2023 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) will kick off on January 13, 2024, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) announced on Thursday.
It was gathered that 24 teams, each representing an African country, will participate in the one-month tournament. The opening match is scheduled at the newly built Alassane Quatara Stadium in Ebimpe, Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.
The grand finale match of the AFCON tournament will be played on Sunday, February 11, 2024. So far, six countries, namely: Algeria, Morocco, South Africa, Tunisia, Burkina Faso, Senegal and hosts Cote d’Ivoire have qualified for the biennial competition.
Other teams will join the slot as they win their qualifier matches subsequently.
Nigeria’s national team, the Super Eagles, are expected to be part of the 24 teams to play in the tournament. However, this depends on the outcome of their qualifier match against the Leone Stars of Sierra Leone in June.
Should the Super Eagles pick at least a draw against the Leone Stars, their slot is sealed for the 2023 AFCON tournament.
Recall that the final draw of the 2023 AFCON will be held in September 2023. CAF will confirm the date and venue in due course.
Alex Iwobi Decries State Of Football Pitches In Nigeria
Meanwhile, Everton midfielder, Alex Iwobi has lamented that the unavailability of good pitches in Nigeria is affecting the performance of the Super Eagles.
Alex Iwobi does not also like the situation whereby the national team has to move from one part of the country to another whenever they have a home game.
The 27-year-old, who played in Nigeria’s 1-0 defeat to Guinea Bissau at the MKO Abiola national stadium and Nigeria’s 1-0 victory away in Bissau, believes if the team has good pitches for home games, one home ground, and a usual hotel for the senior team, the Super Eagles would perform better.
It was gathered that the head coach of the Super Eagles, Jose Peseiro, has lamented that the pitch in Abuja national stadium is not as good as that of Bissau which goes to show the state of the pitch.
Unfortunately, Alex Iwobi has re-echoed Peseiro’s perception while granting an interview on the Beautiful Game Podcast during the international break.
He said, “We don’t know if we are going to have a nice pitch to play.
“Obviously, we got a new coach and we played Sierra Leone and we beat them 2-1 in a very difficult game, then we played Sao Tome and Principe and beat them 10-0 because we played on a great pitch. A lot of us play in Europe now and we play on great pitches where it is easy to manipulate the ball around and play freely. If we had that in Nigeria it will be difficult to beat us and I am confident to say that not many teams can beat us.
“To start with, we don’t have a good pitch because if we have that I feel like we will be unstoppable. That is one thing about Nigeria and I don’t know what’s going on behind but we could play in Asaba, we could play in Lagos or Abuja.
We understand that everyone wants to see the Eagles play and Nigeria is a very big nation but at the same time, it will just be nice to have just one base where we know how it is going to be, the hotel we are going to stay and the food we eat. It just makes everything easier.”
On the state of the Super Eagles, Alex Iwobi added, “Our team is still young and we still have a lot to learn and even as a team we are still learning about ourselves.”
“One thing I can promise Nigerian fans is that as much as the talent is still there only God knows where we will be in the next few years and they just need to be patient with us because we are trying.”