The 2023 AFCON has positioned itself as not just the best edition of the AFCON ever but also one of the most exciting and well-followed sporting competitions ever held.
The tournament signed out with an exciting 2-1 comeback win for Ivory Coast who edged Nigeria to win the trophy.
The comeback was completed by Sebastien Haller, a player who overcame cancer to score the winning goal for his country a year later.
The 2023 AFCON after all the drama, entertainment, and iconic moments would not have picked a better ending. However, there are additional factors that make the 2023 AFCON an all-timer and the benchmark for future ones.
Here are the reasons 2023 AFCON will go down as one of the best
The major highlight of the 2023 AFCON has to be the officiating. Nearly flawless refereeing that has impacted the world’s narrative about VAR.
Many had argued that VAR has ruined the game, but at the AFCON, VAR was the real deal and the game changer.
Some fans believe there has not been a better use of the technology than how it was used at the AFCON since it was introduced in 2018.
Although the 2023 AFCON birthed new features, its old trait of AFCON being unpredictable showed up and showed out.
The unpredictability inspires the drama in and around the competition. It goes the opposite of the norm and drops people’s jaws.
For instance, no one would have predicted that none of the 8 quarterfinalists of the 2021 edition would make the quarter-final of the 2023 edition, including the defending champions Senegal, who finished the group stage with a 100 percent record and 2022 FIFA World Cup semi-finalist Morocco.
Equatorial Guinea trashed host nation Ivory Coast 4-0 and topped a group that also had West African powerhouse Nigeria, only to get knocked out in the round of 16 by Guinea, who finished as the best third-place team.
From Ghana, Algeria, and Tunisia boarding an early flight back home right after the group stage to Ivory Coast surviving a group stage elimination to win the tournament, the 2023 AFCON had its own share of unpredictability and drama.
The 2023 AFCON defied logic.
The coverage was the best in recent years, both on and off the field.
Off the field, the tournament grabbed headlines on social media from the get-go till the end. From the viral ‘Èpkêssè’ dance to teasing rivals after defeats, the tournament enjoyed great coverage.
The tournament recorded an all-time high in viewership. According to CAF president, President Dr Patrice Motsepe, the AFCON amassed almost 2 billion views this.
“We have had close to 2 Billion people watching AFCON globally. We should be proud as Africans and the next one will be even better,” He said before the third-place game and the final.
Standard of play and coaching
The African football standard of play has been on the rise and the 2023 AFCON took it to a new height.
Previously, the African style relied heavily on individual brilliance with countries dominated by stars shining at the tournament.
The story took a different turn as countries like Equatorial Guinea, Cape Verde, Angola, and Mauritania, who are minnows played the best football due to great coaching.