Log in
Updated few hours ago

Afcon 2023: It’s been goals galore in Ivory Coast

The ongoing Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) tournament (edition 34) has provided a goal fest. Nothing like what has unfolded at the current tournament, has been seen in the last five editions.

Already, 115 goals have been scored in 49 matches of the 2023 Afcon championship, an average of 2.35 goals. This is the biggest number of goals that have been scored since the tournament was expanded from 16 teams to 24 in 2019, Egypt.

In fact, to many, it has been a mystery as to why there has been a sudden increase in goals scored. But not to Karim Haggui, 40, a former Tunisian defender, who was integral to his national team’s 2004 Afcon triumph. He said he had observed that many teams at this tournament were structured by their coaches to attack.

At the ongoing Afcon, there have been only four goalless games. Compare that to 2021 and 2019 where six and five games respectively ended goalless by the time the tournament reached the semifinal stage.  

On the other hand, former Namibia coach, Ricardo Mannetti feels that there is also a dearth of real defensive personalities in teams today, like was then, when Rigobert Song, Radhi Jaidi (Tunisia) or Wael Goma of Egypt played the game. According to Mannetti, those individuals were not only solid, but also organized their defences to be impregnable.

Teams are more open today. This brought Haggui to say: “Also, there is a lack of proper game management, too. That is why many teams have conceded moments after scoring or late in games. A case in point, Mali with 11 players lost a quarter-final game to Ivory Coast, which had 10 players, when they conceded a late equalizer in normal time, and a late winner in extra-time.

Similar events unfolded in games involving Ghana, Egypt, Mozambique, Cape Verde, Mauritania, Senegal, Tunisia and Angola, among others. In addition, Ronald Ketjijere, 36, the captain of Namibia, actually believes that the Afcon has shown that many teams struggle to balance defence and offence.

However, although the 2008 Afcon had a total of 32 games, 20 less than those for the 2023 tournament, the average goals scored 16 years ago, stood at 3.09 per game. A real goals galore it was. But since then, it began dropping.

The 2010 tournament averaged 2.45 goals per game. In 2012, there were 2.38 goals per game, an average bigger than even the current one in Ivory Coast. But 2013 was on 2.16 goals, which dropped to 2.13 goals in 2015. In 2017, it was 2.06 goals, before it worsened in 2019 (1.96 goals) and 2021 (1.92 goals).

Comments are now closed for this entry