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AFCON 2023: Group D Preview

In the fourth of Sports Gazette’s six group previews for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, we’re taking a detailed look at Group D. Algeria, Angola, Mauritania, and Burkina Faso are set to compete in one of the most intriguing groups in the tournament.

Algeria, the group favorites, are hoping to reach the heights of 2019 when they won the tournament in dominant fashion. Burkina Faso pulled off a stunning run to finish in fourth place in the previous tournament. Their talented young squad could be set for another darkhorse run deep into the knockout stages.

Angola have returned to action after missing out on qualification in 2021. Mauritania’s emerging squad has earned their second ever berth to the Africa Cup of Nations and are hoping to advance past the group stage for the first time ever.

The group consists of four teams hoping to do something special at the tournament and could shape out into some fascinating match-ups.


Group Prediction: 1st

Arguably, the most opportune time to hit your best form as a team is right before you enter a tournament. Algeria has elevated into a different stratosphere in the matches leading up to the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations. The team is unbeaten in their last ten matches and have not lost a competitive fixture since February. An even more promising aspect seems to be that this team has added depth to a large core that won the tournament in 2019.

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Captain Riyad Mahrez in action during Algeria’s Group E match against Ivory Coast in the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.

AS Roma midfielder Houssem Aouar and Rennes forward Amine Gouiri have both switched their international allegiance from France to Algeria. Aouar has already scored two goals for the country and Gouiri is eligible for selection to AFCON. 

Algeria manager Djamel Belmadi signed a new deal in the beginning of 2023 to extend his contract until 2026. Belmadi is known for his structured and organized approach for setting up his teams. His managerial style has helped him become revered in the country. Belmadi is hopeful to replicate the success of 2019, but anticipates tough competition.

“It is the fact that there are no longer small teams in Africa,” Belmadi said.



Burkina Faso

Group Prediction: 2nd 

Burkina Faso finished in fourth place in the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations and are one of the most unique teams entering this tournament. Manager Hubert Velud can look to an exciting squad as he bids to make a strong impression in his first Africa Cup of Nations with Burkina Faso.

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Burkina Faso’s team prior to a international friendly against Belgium in 2022.

There is technical ability, speed, and physicality within the squad. Bayer Leverkusen center back Edmond Tapsoba could arguably be considered as the best center back in Africa. Tapsoba was nominated for the CAF African Player of the Year award in 2023 that was recently awarded to Nigerian striker Victor Osimhen. At 6’4, Tapsoba is a physical presence and has composure when in possession of the ball. He will likely be a key factor if Burkina Faso makes another deep run in the tournament.



Group Prediction: 3rd

Although Mauritania is not considered one of the elite teams on the continent, there is a sizable amount of excitement around this team. 

It is a squad packed with emerging talent. Players above the age of 30 are hard to find on the squad recently selected for the tournament. The youngest of these players is 19-year-old center midfielder Oumar Ngom. Ngom recently signed for Pau FC, a team in Ligue 2, France’s second flight division, in July. 

Mauritania has picked up some good results across this calendar year as well. In January, the team pulled out a 0-0 draw with Angola, who is also in Group D, and a 1-0 win against a relatively strong Mali team. In September, they beat Gabon 2-1 to qualify for the tournament. 

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Mauritania pose ahead of their Group F match against Tunisia in the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.

Depending on how things shape out in other groups, Mauritania could be able to secure a berth to the knockout stages. With the emerging talent on the roster, a third place finish is certainly not unthinkable.




Group Prediction: 4th

Angola has the potential to possibly qualify for the knockout stages. This prediction is not an indictment against Angola’s quality. It is just a possible precursor to a perfect storm of components going against the ‘Palancas Negras’. There is sizable competition in this group.

Algeria’s manager Djamel Belmadi’s words are important to reemphasize. There are no real small teams in this tournament and AFCON usually has plenty of variability. A loss of focus from any of these teams throughout this tournament could find themselves in the position Angola is predicted for. 

Angola has struggled for form in 2023. They have only picked up two wins across all competitions. Draws against Mali, Ghana, and Cape Verde can at least provide a little bit of positivity to hang onto heading into their first fixture.

There is legitimate attacking firepower in this team. Fiorentina’s M’Bala Nzola and Calgiari’s Zito Luvumbo have the tools to be dangerous in the final third. Luvumbo currently has three goals and two assists in the Serie A this season. At the age of 21, he is a promising youngster. It would take a solid team effort for Angola to reach the knockout stages for the first time since 2010.

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Cagilari’s Zito Luvumbo and Lazio’s Felipe Anderson in action during a Serie A match on December 2nd, 2023.



  • Jaden Dakwa

    I am a sports journalist and I have been writing about football since 2021. Sports, in general, have been a passion of mine since a young age. The Gunners in North London are definitely my favorite team, but I have overwhelming love for the sport of football as a whole. In that aspect of my life, not much has changed.