Afcon: The Significant numbers to come out of the group stages

Bafana Bafana’s Percy Tau missed penalty against Mali. Picture: Samuel Shivambu / BackpagePix

Bafana Bafana’s Percy Tau missed penalty against Mali. Picture: Samuel Shivambu / BackpagePix

Published Jan 27, 2024


Aheead of the start of the knockout phase of the 34th edition of the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) taking place in the Ivory Coast, we take a by-the-numbers look back at the group stages.

8 – the number of former champions left in the tournament and, incredibly, they are pitted against each other for the Round of 16 stage – Nigeria v Cameroon; Morocco v Bafana Bafana; Senegal v Ivory Coast; Egypt v DR Congo.

Eight is also the number of West African countries – Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria, Senegal – to have progressed into the knockout stage.

Points earned by the majority of the group winners. Out of the six groups, four were won on seven points – all of Equatorial Guinea, Cape Verde, Angola and Morocco winning two matches and drawing one.

6 – Successive tournaments in which the defending champions failed to go past the round of 16. Can holders Senegal break this ‘jinx' and reach the quarter-finals?

Before them, all of Egypt (2010 champions, did not qualify for 2012); Zambia (2012 champions, group stage casualties in 2013), Nigeria (2013 winners, did not qualify for 2015), Ivory Coast (2015 champions, group stage casualties in 2017), Cameroon (2017 champions, knocked out in round of 16 in 2019) and Algeria (2019 champions, group stage casualties in 2021) failed.

5 – The highest number of goals by a player in the group stages. That honour belongs to Emilio Nsue of Equatorial Guinea.

In a tournament teeming with top-class strikers playing in the big European leagues, it is incredible that a man who plies his trade in the third-division of Spain leads the charge for the Golden Boot. At 34, he became the oldest player to score a hat-trick against Guinea Bissau.

4 – Red Cards were handed out in the group stages. Ebou Adams of Gambia, Guinea's Francois Komano, Tanzanian Novatus Miroshi and Zambia's Roderick Kabwe were sent off for an early shower in clashes against Senegal, Cameroon, Morocco, and Tanzania, respectively.

3 – The number of own goals. They were from Estaban Obiang of Cape Verde against Guinea Bissau, Opa Sangante, also of Guinea Bissau, against Nigeria, and Gambia's James Gomez in their 3-2 defeat by Cameroon.

Three is also the number of goalless matches. It had appeared that there would be no such score-lines until the last day of the round-robin phase, with three of the four matches (South Africa v Tunisia, Mali v Namibia, and Tanzania v DR Congo) failing to produce a goal.

2 – A couple of nations are making a first appearance in the knock-out stage. Namibia and Mauritania defied the odds to go past the group stage, without having won a match at the finals before. Two was also the number of penalty kicks missed – by South Africa's Percy Tau and the DR Congo's Cedric Bakumbu.

1– While a handful of coaches lost their jobs (they were fired or resigned) at the end of the group stages, Tanzania's Adel Amrouche was the only one to be kicked out during the round-robin phase.

The Algeria/Belgian national was suspended and fined by CAf for comments he made about Morocco and then fired by his association before the Taifa Stars' final match against the DR Congo.

0 – No team has kept a clean sheet in all three matches with all 24 teams having had their defence breached at least once.