We've made our AFCON 2023 Group E winners prediction, and it seems like fierce competition is brewing among three formidable teams, in a situation that is often termed the “Group of Death” in any group + knockout tournament.
Tunisia, boasting the highest FIFA ranking at 32 in the group, faces strong challenges from Les Aigles and Bafana Bafana. Given the format allowing three teams to qualify from the group stage in this 24-team tournament, there's a real chance for all three teams to advance to the Round of 16 if they play their cards right.
Here’s how we see AFCON 2023 Group E panning out…
AFCON 2023 Group E winners prediction & Group Forecast
Group Winners – Tunisia
The Eagles of Carthage, currently ranked 32nd globally, stand as the third highest-ranked team in Africa. Recent performances have been very impressive, with victories over Egypt in friendlies, a draw against Denmark, and a triumph over the formidable France in the World Championship.
Since their triumph in 2005, Tunisia has faced challenges in making a significant impact. Their performance in the 2020 AFCON saw them narrowly qualify with 3rd place in the group stage, where Mali secured the top spot. This time, they're seeking redemption.
In contrast to relying on individual stars, this team takes to the pitch with a collective and competitive spirit, making them one of the most formidable teams in Africa. With star striker Wahibi Khazri no longer leading the team, Youssef Mskani steps up to guide the squad in their quest to excel and top the group.
Runners Up – Mali
In a team yet to claim an AFCON championship, the current squad presents a strong opportunity to contend for the title. Despite the heartbreak against Morocco in the 2020 final, the present group of players holds promise for a significant run in the tournament.
Bissouma, who has been a standout performer in the Premier League this season under the new manager, is poised to command the midfield for Les Aigles. With talents like Koné and Koita in the attacking ranks, coupled with the defensive prowess of Haïdara and Hamari Traoré, Mali appears well-equipped to triumph in this group. As of the time of this article, they have suffered only one defeat in their last six matches.
Fueled by the confidence of topping the group in the last AFCON against the very same opponent they face this year, Tunisia, Mali can approach the tournament with assurance, aiming for a strong performance to secure a favourable position in the round of 16.
Third Place – South Africa
Bafana Bafana has seen a mix of results in the AFCON finals, demonstrating the potential to overcome higher-ranked teams. Notably, their recent outcomes, including a draw against Ivory Coast and a victory against Morocco, underscore this capability.
Under the guidance of Belgian manager Hugo Broos, the team is banking on the return of star player Lyle Foster, presently on a break from football for “Mental well-being,” by the time the tournament commences. Positioned to be one of the top four third-place finishers in the tournament, we anticipate South Africa advancing to the next round.
Eliminated – Namibia
The South-West African team has participated in AFCON finals only three times, holding the lowest FIFA ranking in the group at 114. Unfortunately, in their three attempts, they've never progressed beyond the first round.
The Brave Warriors don't boast a favourable record against their group rivals. Placed in what's deemed the “group of death,” we anticipate they might face elimination once again in the first round.
Group E Winners – Potential Round of 16 Opponents
The team that tops Group E will go against the second-placed team in Group D, possibly Burkina Faso if seedings prove accurate. Notably, Tunisia suffered a defeat to Burkina Faso in the AFCON 2021 Quarter-final, setting the stage for a compelling potential matchup.