Firat reveals big worry about East and Southern African teams ahead of AFCON

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FOOTBALL Firat reveals big worry about East and Southern African teams ahead of AFCON

Mark Kinyanjui 07:31 - 12.01.2024

Firat is skeptical of East, Central and Southern African teams lifting the 2023 AFCON.

Harambee Stars head coach Engin Firat thinks North and West African teams have a big advantage over their East and Southern counterparts at the upcoming 2023 Africa Cup of Nations.

Out of the 24 teams taking part in this edition, 11 are from West Africa while North Africa has four teams. The remaining nine teams are from East, Central, and Southern Africa, with Tanzania the only East African representative.

Speaking before the tournament started, Firat, who has strongly advocated for Kenya to improve its standards of infrastructure, believes that East, Central, and Southern African teams taking part in the competition have a lesser chance of lifting the title compared to North and West African teams.

"To be honest, the favorites are teams from North and West Africa. This is how it has been for a long time, and it will continue again,” he said as quoted on Mozzart Sport.

Firat believes that East and Southern African teams are still way off from becoming a force to be reckoned with unless they get their infrastructure in check.

“The East and South African teams are still far behind and need to make drastic measures to put them on par with their peers from the other side of Africa. It is not a problem of talent but one of infrastructure, and this is what needs to change.

“So in conclusion, we have five countries that are favourites to do well this year, and all of them are from North and West Africa. There is a big imbalance on the continent and it needs to be addressed."

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Firat’s sentiments seem to be backed by Opta Supercomputer, who have predicted that the five favorite teams to win the tournament are from the regions he namechecked.

Senegal are the most likely winners according to the model, with a 12.8% chance, just ahead of hosts Ivory Coast (12.1%), who are attempting to win the trophy for a third time, after 1992 and 2015. 

Morocco (11.1%) are given the third-best chance of winning by the predictor model. 

They are seeking their second AFCON title, having won it in 1976, but they have not gotten past the quarter-finals in their past seven appearances, since losing the 2004 final 2-1 to Tunisia.

Algeria (9.7%) are the fourth-most likely winners, with Egypt fifth (8.5%). For Algeria, the chances of victory are boosted potentially by an easier group than some of the other top contenders, giving them the highest probability of reaching the last 16 (91.5%).