This weekend, the 34th edition of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) kickstarts in Ivory Coast, and many teams will be present to battle it out for the continent’s biggest prize.
Current champions Senegal will look to defend their title, yet an unexpected series of events could be unravelled in this edition, leaving no room for complacency for any of the nations.
Group C presents title holders Senegal, Cameroon, Guinea and The Gambia.
Let’s dive into the details of this group.
The Teranga Lions booked a place in this tournament after topping Group L in the qualifiers, which had Mozambique, Benin and Rwanda.
Aliou Cisse’s men run unbeaten in the qualifying series with four wins and two draws out of six matches.
Senegal are heading to their 17th AFCON as current holders of the title and have finished as runners-up twice in the competition’s history. In 2002 and 2019 respectively.
The Teranga Lions have a very balanced squad that could make a strong finish in the likes of Sadio Mane, Nicolas Jackson and Kalidou Koulibaly.
However, they will be hoping the champions’ curse does not see them eliminated out of luck in the Group stage like Algeria in the previous tournament.
The Indomitable Lions secured a place at this edition of the AFCON after emerging as winners of Group C in the qualifiers, topping Namibia, Burundi and Kenya in the process.
Rigobert Song’s side won two, drew and lost one match apiece in their qualifying group, yet are expected to go toe to toe with Senegal for who tops Group C at this year’s tournament.
The five-time champions will be making their 21st appearance in this edition and finished in third place in the previous tournament where they hosted the competition.
Nonetheless, the 2017 winners will have a notable number of players missing out on this edition; Bryan Mbeumo, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and veteran defender Michael Ngadeu.
Skipper Vincent Aboubabar and Andre Onana are still available for Rigobert Song, who will look to win the tournament as a coach after winning it in 2000 and 2002.
The National Elephants secured their spot in the 2023 AFCON after finishing second in Group D in the qualifiers behind Egypt.
The 1976 runners-up won three, lost two and drew one of six matches in their qualifying process and are expected to be one of the tough teams to beat in this edition.
Led by Kaba Diawara as head coach, Guinea will be one of the sides who could make a statement in this competition, and potentially lead to either Senegal or Cameroon being eliminated.
Also, the National Elephants will have Serhou Guirassy, who has scored 17 Bundesliga goals in 14 appearances leading their line of attack in this tournament, leaving an upset up on the cards in this group.
Guinea will face Cameroon in their Group C opener on January 15, before taking on Gambia and Senegal on the 19th and 23rd of January respectively.
The Scorpions booked a place in this year’s tournament after finishing in second place behind Mali in the qualifiers in Group G.
Tom Saintfiet’s side won three, lost two and drew one of six matches in their qualifying process.
This will be the second edition of participation for the Scorpions who reached the quarter-finals in the previous tournament, eliminated by group compatriots Cameroon.
After a successful debut last time out, Gambia will aim to achieve further success at this tournament with star player Omar Colley expected to lead their line of defence.
Gambia will take on champions Senegal on January 15, Guinea on January 19 and finally Cameroon on 23rd January.
Senegal and Cameroon look the favourites to progress to the next round of the competition, yet an upset could be on the cards in this Group if these teams fail to convert their chances created.