We have made an AFCON 2023 Group D winners prediction ahead of the start of the next tournament in January. Group D contains 2019 winners Algeria, 2013 runners-up Burkina Faso, third-time qualifiers in a row Mauritania and 2010 hosts and quarter-finalists Angola.
AFCON 2023 Group D winners prediction & group forecast
Group Winners – Algeria
Algeria come into this Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) edition as the fourth-highest African seed in the FIFA World Rankings, and 34th in the world overall. They were only one of two unbeaten teams in qualifying, winning five of their six group games.
They have won AFCON twice, in 1990 as hosts, and most recently in 2019. However, they were knocked out of the group stage in 2021, and will be looking to rectify that this time around.
Riyad Mahrez remains the star man for Algeria at 32 years old, and has scored six goals at AFCON, the joint-most in Algeria's history. However, he will soon be looking to pass the baton onto 23-year-old winger Amine Gouiri, who switched allegiances having played for France at youth level, and has scored 20 goals in 57 appearances for Ligue 1 club Rennes.
Nonetheless, we think that Algeria will win this group, and will be one of the hot contenders to win the tournament.
Runners Up – Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso are 58th in the world rankings, ahead of four-time AFCON winners Ghana. They came top of a tight qualifying group containing Cape Verde and Togo, all separated by just three points.
They have never won AFCON, but were runners-up in 2013, and finished in third and fourth place in 2017 and 2021 respectively. Thus, they will be expected to be Algeria's toughest challengers.
Burkina Faso's most recognisable player is centre-back Edmond Tapsoba, who has been a rock for a Bayer Leverkusen team sitting top of the Bundesliga. Other notable talents come from the Premier League. They are Issa Kabore of Luton Town, Dango Outtara of AFC Bournemouth and Aston Villa's Bertrand Traore, who is fifth on their all-time goalscorers list with 15, and seventh in appearances with 71.
They will certainly give Algeria a run for their money in this group, but the latter's quality and experience may be too much to overcome.
Third Place – Angola
Unlike Burkina Faso and Mauritania, Angola have played at a FIFA World Cup, doing so in 2006. However, Angolan football has declined since then, and they are ranked 117th in the world, and third-lowest in AFCON.
They did not qualify in 2021, and have only qualified once since 2013. However, consecutive quarter-finals in 2008 and 2010 will give them some hope that they can do better this time around.
If Angola are to have any hope of qualifying from the group, it will come from their frontline. Striker Gelson Dala plays his club football in Qatar with Al-Wakrah, and is the joint-sixth highest scorer in Angola's history with 14. LOSC Lille winger Ivan Cavaleiro previously played for Wolves and Fulham in the Premier League, while free agent Helder Costa was Cavaleiro's team-mate at Wolves, and also played for Leeds United.
Attacks often win games, and we think Angola's may propel them to third place, and a potential route to the knockouts.
Eliminated – Mauritania
Mauritania qualified for their first AFCON in 2019, and have since qualified in 2021 and now 2023. They are a growing footballing nation, and sit 99th in the world rankings.
They fended off Gabon, led by Marseille hitman Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, in qualifying, and will be determined to put on a better show than in 2021, where they crashed out at the group stage having lost all three games.
Mauritania's biggest threat could come from winger Aboubakary Koita, who recently earned his first cap after scoring 10 goals in 14 games in the Belgian top flight for Sint-Truidense VV.
The sight of Mauritania finishing below Angola may be something of a surprise, but it will be a close call in the expected battle to avoid immediate elimination.
Group D Winners – Potential Round of 16 opponents
The winners of Group D will face the third-placed team from either Group B, E or F in the Round of 16. If draw seedings were to translate directly to the final standings, it would be Algeria against either Cape Verde, South Africa or Zambia.