Our Equatorial Guinea AFCON 2023 preview and predicted XI delves into the National Thunders' prospects of advancing from a challenging group including hosts Ivory Coast.
How did Equatorial Guinea qualify for AFCON?
Equatorial Guinea secured a seventh-place finish in the last AFCON, and they are determined to make a stronger impact in the upcoming AFCON 2023 tournament.
Facing a challenging group in the qualifiers, which included strong teams like Tunisia, Botswana, and Libya, Equatorial Guinea faced an initial setback with a defeat to Tunisia in the away match.
However, they won four consecutive matches after that, including a victory against Tunisia in the home fixture, and ending the qualification round with a draw.
Despite finishing with the same points as Tunisia, they secured the second spot due to Tunisia's superior goal difference, leading them into one of the toughest groups in AFCON 2023.
Equatorial Guinea AFCON 2023 Preview
Who will Equatorial Guinea play at AFCON 2023?
Equatorial Guinea were drawn in AFCON Group A alongside three-time winners Nigeria, host nation Ivory Coast and Guinea-Bissau.
Equatorial Guinea kick off their AFCON 2023 campaign against Nigeria, a formidable contender with star striker Victor Osimhen. Having never secured a victory against Nigeria and given Nigeria's status as one of the top favorites, the National Thunders face a challenging task.
Equatorial Guinea sees this upcoming match as a crucial opportunity to secure a third-place finish in the group, enhancing their chances of qualification. It marks the first-ever H2H encounter between these two nations, with Equatorial Guinea entering the game as the favorites.
In the final group stage match, they will face the host nation, Ivory Coast. Equatorial Guinea, currently ranked 91st in FIFA standings, has not secured a victory against the formidable Ivory Coast, positioned at 52nd place.
How far will Equatorial Guinea go?
The fate of Juan Micha's team in advancing from the group stage hinges on their performances against Ivory Coast and Nigeria.
With the prospect of qualifying in the third position from the group stage in AFCON 2023, Equatorial Guinea should set this as their target. To secure qualification as the third team from Group A, Equatorial Guinea needs a strategic approach focused on minimizing damage. While aiming to defeat teams like Ivory Coast and Nigeria, they must be cautious to not concede too many goals.
Bookmakers anticipate that Coach Juan Micha will make significant strides to guide Equatorial Guinea to a third-place qualification. They are offering odds of 5/6 (54.55%) for Equatorial Guinea's chances.
Equatorial Guinea – Predicted AFCON 2023 XI
Equatorial Guinea boasts a reliable goalkeeper in Jesus Owono. The Deportivo Alaves goalkeeper featured in all their qualification matches, securing three clean sheets.
While he didn't start their game against Liberia, it's highly probable that he will return to the starting XI for the opening match against Nigeria.
With 11 defenders in the squad, Luis Nsue, Akapo, and Ndong are likely to be regular starters. Luis Ensue, a center-back, has featured in all the qualifying games, pairing with different teammates.
Basilio Ndong, one of the team's most capped players with 41 appearances, is yet to find the net but is known for his defensive prowess. Esteban Orozco, who started against Tunisia and delivered a top-notch performance while maintaining a clean sheet, could secure a starting spot as well.
The midfield of the Equatorial Guinea team will be commanded by the 27-year-olds Federico Bikoro and Iban Salvador. Bikoro holds the record as the most capped player in the team's history, boasting 46 caps, while Salvador has already accumulated 38 caps.
Josete Miranda and Pablo Ganet could also be potential starters, bringing a wealth of experience to the team. On the bench, there are promising youngsters who can make valuable contributions, especially in scoring goals.
The team's captain and all-time leading goal-scorer, Emilio Nsue, will spearhead the attack once more. Nsue, who has already netted 17 goals in 39 appearances, aims to maintain this scoring form during the group stages of AFCON 2023.
Additionally, the 22-year-old Dorian Jr. may be utilized as a substitute to contribute to the team's efforts.