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Opta’s Insights Unveil Senegal’s Dominance in Africa Cup of Nations 2023 Race

The highly anticipated 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) kicks off this Saturday, featuring a clash between hosts Ivory Coast and Guinea-Bissau. Notably, the tournament, officially labelled as the 2023 finals, is being played in 2024. Defending champions Senegal, led by Sadio Mane, are poised to make history by securing back-to-back titles, a feat achieved last by Egypt between 2006 and 2010.

BBC Sport, in collaboration with Opta’s artificial intelligence prediction model, delves into the tournament dynamics to identify potential champions. Senegal emerges as the narrow favourite with a 12.8% chance, closely followed by Ivory Coast at 12.1%. The last host nation to clinch the trophy was Egypt in 2006, setting a challenging precedent for Ivory Coast.

Morocco, with an 11.1% likelihood, aims to secure their second Afcon title since 1976 but faces the hurdle of not advancing beyond the quarter-finals in their last seven appearances. Algeria, boosted by a favourable group, holds a 9.7% chance, while Egypt, the record seven-time Afcon champions, eyes redemption after their 2021 final loss to Senegal.

The competition also highlights Nigeria and Cameroon, both football powerhouses. Nigeria, three-time Afcon winners, holds an 8.1% chance, led by Victor Osimhen’s impressive goal-scoring record. Cameroon, a five-time champion, boasts a 7.5% likelihood, with Vincent Aboubakar aiming to replicate his 2021 Golden Boot performance.

Mali emerges as a potential first-time winner with a 3.7% chance, showcasing a strong European presence in their squad. With a mere 5.4% separating the top seven teams, Afcon 2023 promises to be an open and thrilling competition, setting the stage for the crowning moment on February 11. Football enthusiasts eagerly anticipate witnessing the drama unfold and hope for deserving winners to emerge.

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