The 2023 AFCON tournament is down to its final four teams, with both semi-finals set to be played on Wednesday. As always, this has been a wild and wacky tournament, with hosts Ivory Coast scraping into the Round of 16 by the thinnest of margins, yet now being two wins away from taking the crown on home soil.
Nations expected to go deep into the tournament – like Algeria, Ghana, and Tunisia – were dumped out at the group stage. Yet, none of the six group winners made it through two rounds of knockout football to reach the final four.
Anything could happen on Wednesday, and it wouldn’t be a shock.
Odds to win AFCON 2023:
These odds make sense even if a piece of team news (which we will get to shortly) could upend current favorites Nigeria. The Super Eagles are the highest-ranked country left in the AFCON tournament by FIFA rankings at No. 42 globally. This compares to Ivory Coast (49), South Africa (66), and DR Congo 67.
They have also had the easiest path to get here, finishing joint top of their group with seven points before beating Cameroon and Angola without conceding a goal in the knockout stages.
However, you would be foolish to count out the other three sides, as anything can happen in 90 minutes (plus extended stoppage time) of football. Ivory Coast is riding a wave of support, while the goal-shy South Africans have enough about them to shock the content thanks to their excellent defensive performance so far.
Here is a look at the semifinal fixtures with odds from BetXchange:
Nigeria VS South Africa – Stade de la Paix, Bouake
When: Wednesday, February 7
The massive news is that star striker Victor Osimhen has not traveled with the Nigerian tea to Bouake due to a stomach/abdominal problem. He could still join the squad and participate in this match, but it is hard to believe he will be at 100% if he gets the go-ahead to play.
This clash sees the two teams with the best defensive record at AFCON 2023 facing off. Nigeria has allowed just one goal, while South Africa has let in just three and none in the knockout phase.
The worry for the Bafana Bafana is that they have made the semi-finals by beating minnows in Mauritania and Cape Verde, but you can only beat what is put in front of you, and it is clear to see that this is a squad that has grown in confidence every game.
History is on Nigeria’s side – in three previous AFCON meetings the aggregate score is 8-1 in their favor – but Osimhen is one of just three players to score for Nigeria this tournament, so his potential absence is huge. Keep an eye on his status and take South Africa to win or draw at 27/20 as a value bet if he is missing.
Ivory Coast VS DR Congo – Alassane Ouattara Stadium, Abidjan
When: Wednesday, February 7
Again, Ivory Coast should not be in this position. They qualified for the knockout round as the final of the 16 teams, making it through the group stages as the fourth-best third-placed team.
Since that unexpected lifeline, they beat Senegal – the only team to get maximum points in pool play – on penalties before dispatching Mali after extra time.
DR Congo also needed penalties as they beat Egypt 8-7 after a wild set of spot kicks in the Round of 16 ties. Their 3-1 win over Guinea in the quarter-finals was the best performance of any of these four sides the last time out and will have given them a massive confidence jump at this stage in the comp.
Home support will be huge here, and if Ivory Coast scores first, DRC will be in big trouble. The ‘away’ team hasn’t made an AFCON final since 1974, and I like them to upset the hosts in what should be a banger of a game.