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AFCON 2023: Group C Preview

In the third of our six group previews ahead of AFCON 2023, we are diving into Group C which many have deemed the “Group of Death.”

AFCON 2023: Group B Preview

All four teams in Group C advanced to the knockout stages at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, with Senegal going on to win the tournament. The holders are joined by five-time champions Cameroon, Guinea, who have advanced from the group stages in their last three AFCON appearances, and Gambia, who reached the quarterfinals as debutants in 2021.


Group Prediction: 1st

The ‘Lions of Teranga’ enter the tournament as one of the favourites. Their 2021 AFCON title was their first-ever, and they also finished runners-up in 2019, losing 1-0 in the final to Algeria. In 2022, long-serving head coach Aliou Cissé led Senegal to the World Cup knockout stages for the first time since 2002, when he captained the team himself.

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Senegal celebrate winning their first-ever AFCON against Egypt at the Olembe Stadium, Yaoundé, Cameroon on February 6th 2022

The Senegalese boast one of the strongest squads in the tournament. All-time leading scorer Sadio Mané will be key, and will be joined in attack by Chelsea’s Nicolas Jackson and Marseille’s Ismaïla Sarr.

Everton’s Idrissa Gana Gueye, the most capped player in the nation’s history, will be joined in midfield by Nottingham Forest’s Cheikhou Kouyaté. Tottenham Hotspur’s Pape Matar Sarr and FC Metz’ Lamine Camara, the newly crowned Men’s Young Player of the Year at the 2023 Confederation of African Football (CAF) Awards, have further strengthened their midfield.

Captain Kalidou Koulibaly will anchor their defence alongside versatile Monaco fullback Ismail Jakobs, Forest’s Moussa Niakhaté, and Abdou Diallo. Édouard Mendy, The Best FIFA Men’s Goalkeeper entering the 2021 edition, will feature in goal.

Senegal went through 2023 AFCON qualifying unbeaten and won their first-ever African Nations Championship (CHAN) in February, beating Algeria 5-4 on penalties. They will top Group C.

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Senegal head coach Aliou Cissé raises the AFCON trophy during their parade in Dakar on February 7th, 2022


Group Prediction: 2nd

The ‘Indomitable Lions’ finished third at AFCON 2021 as the host nation. Their last triumph came in 2017, when they beat seven-time champions Egypt 2-1 in Libreville, Gabon.

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Cameroon celebrate winning their fifth AFCON at the d’Angondje Stadium in Libreville, Gabon on February 5th, 2017

It took a 3-0 win against Burundi in their last 2023 AFCON qualifying game for Cameroon to reach the tournament, in a group where they played only four games due to Kenya’s disqualification.

Cameroon come into AFCON having won only two of their last eight games. To add to their woes, Brentford’s Bryan Mbeumo, who has registered double-digit goals and assists in the Premier League in 2023, has also been ruled out of the tournament with an ankle injury.

They will be led by captain Vincent Aboubakar, who was the top-scorer at AFCON 2021 with eight goals, and also scored the winning goal against Egypt in Cameroon’s 2017 AFCON triumph.

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Cameroon captain Vincent Aboubakar raises his Golden Boot at the 2021 AFCON

André-Frank Zambo Anguissa, a mainstay in the Napoli team that clinched the Serie A title last season, and Manchester United goalkeeper André Onana will also be crucial to Cameroonian success at AFCON.

Onana was sent home from the 2022 FIFA World Cup after falling out with head coach Rigobert Song, who felt the goalkeeper was taking too many risks with the ball at his feet.

However, they have since reconciled, and this will help Cameroon finish runners-up in Group C.


Group Prediction: 3rd

The ‘Syli National’ advanced to the Round of 16 at the 2021 and 2019 AFCONs, and the quarter-final in 2015. They qualified for AFCON 2023 comfortably, with three wins and a draw in qualification Group D, finishing runners-up to Egypt.

They will be led by captain Naby Keïta and VfB Stuttgart striker Serhou Guirassy, who has scored 17 goals in the Bundesliga so far this season, only second to Harry Kane.

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Guinea team pose prior to their Group B match against Zimbabwe at the 2021 AFCON

Guirassy suffered a hamstring injury against Union Berlin on 21st October, a match in which he opened the scoring. However, head coach Kaba Diawara called him up for Guinea’s 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers in November, so he will likely lead their frontline at AFCON.

RB Leipzig’s Moriba Kourouma will also play a major role, although the 20-year-old Barcelona academy product has struggled for gametime at RB Leipzig this season.

Consecutive losses to Egypt in AFCON qualifying, which came either side of losses to Senegal, Algeria, and Ivory Coast show the Guineans are a step behind the top teams on the African continent.

They will beat Gambia on Matchday 2 and advance as one of the four highest-ranked third-placed teams.

The Gambia

Group Prediction: 4th

The ‘Scorpions’ played more games than any other team to qualify for just their second-ever AFCON, beating Chad 3-2 over two legs in the preliminary qualifying round, and finishing runners-up in AFCON qualification Group G behind Mali, who they beat 1-0 on Matchday 4.

Gambia are the lowest-ranked team coming into the tournament, currently sitting 126 in the FIFA World Rankings – meaning just qualifying for AFCON was an achievement for them.

However, as debutants in 2021 they beat Tunisia 1-0 and drew 0-0 with Mali in Group F on route to the quarterfinals, where they lost 2-0 to hosts Cameroon.

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Gambia players celebrate Musa Barrow’s winning goal during their Round of 16 match against Guinea at the 2021 AFCON

Gambia come into AFCON off the back of consecutive defeats to Burundi and hosts Ivory Coast in their first two 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. Their lack of quality, along with the strength Group C means they will fall just short.



  • Emile Nuh

    Emile Nuh is a Sports Journalist who predominantly focuses on Formula 1 and Basketball. He did have a prior interest in Football, however the Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital Consortium takeover of Chelsea quickly put an end to that. Like many journalists Emile also has a “I could have made it pro if it wasn’t for my...story”. In his case, he attributes his dodgy shoulder as the one that brought an end to his sporting aspirations