By Victor Kanayo
The draw for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations happened Thursday night in Abidjan with Hosts Cote d’Ivoire pitched against regional rivals Nigeria at the group stage of the upcoming continental showpiece.
In the same group D, both Guinea Bissau and Equitorial Guinea were drawn.
It was a captivating ceremony with current and former football superstars, Didier Drogba, Mikel Obi, Sadio Mane and Achraf Hakimi, supporting as draw assistants.
Senegal, who triumphed earlier this year, were drawn in Group C against Cameroon, Guinea and AFCON debutants Gambia in what looks like a competitive pool.
Ironically, Senegal will meet Cameroon in a friendly in France on Monday as part of their build-up to defend the trophy on Ivorian soil.
Egypt, hunting a record-extending eighth continental crown, will face Ghana in Group B in a repeat of the 2010 final which the Pharaohs won late on. Cape Verde and Mozambique complete the group.
Algeria, Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Angola add further star quality to Group D in another exciting pool.
Elsewhere, World Cup semi-finalists Morocco will navigate a comfortable Group F containing DR Congo, Zambia and Tanzania.
Matches will take place at six venues across the country, including newly constructed stadiums in Abidjan, Korhogo and San Pedro.
The 16-team group stage was plotted in Abidjan, with Cote d’Ivoire hosting the continent’s showpiece event from January 13 to February 11, 2024.
The Full Final Draw
Group A: Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea Bissau
Group B: Egypt, Ghana, Cape Verde Islands, Mozambique
Group C: Senegal, Cameroon, Guinea, Gambia
Group D: Algeria, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Angola
Group E: Tunisia, Mali, South Africa, Namibia
Group F: Morocco, DR Congo, Zambia, Tanzania