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A picture of the opening ceremony of the Africa Cup of Nations 2023 tournament at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium, on January 13.

CAF President Motsepe confident AFCON 2023 will be best in history

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Confederation of African Football (CAF) president Patrice Motsepe is confident the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations will go down in history as the best continental tournament in the history of African football.

Motsepe made his feelings known at the opening ceremony of the Côte d’Ivoire edition, which kicked off on Saturday with a game pitting the host nation against Guinea-Bissau.

“This AFCON is going to be the best AFCON in the history of African football. Côte d’Ivoire will show the world the best football players from Africa and the best football players in the world,” he said in the presence of Côte d’Ivoire President Alassane Ouattara, Prime Minister Robert Beugré Mambé, FIFA president Gianni Infantino, among other high-profile dignitaries.

The opening ceremony was accompanied by an elaborate entertainment schedule that showcased Ivorian and African culture, with minutes-long song and dance sessions keeping the fans lively ahead of the late-night match.

Donning the team’s Orange colors, Ivorian football fans thronged the 60,000-seater Alassane Ouattara Olympic Stadium in a show of confidence in their team’s chances of bagging a much-sought after third AFCON title.

In his speech, Motsepe mentioned Ivorian greats, including Didier Drogba and Yaya Toure, much to the joy of the fans who responded by giving thunderous applauses.

Motsepe further expressed his confidence that AFCON 2023 was a good platform for African talent to be showcased to the world.

“Soon a nation from Africa will be champion of the world. We are committed through football to unite all of our people from different racial backgrounds, ethnic backgrounds, religious background in Africa and in the world through football. The future of Africa is bright, the future of African football is bright,” he said.

In the minutes that followed, as players emerged from the tunnel onto the playing turf, the crowd showed their love to the current squad with deafening cheers and claps, drum beats that went in tandem with song and dance.

Their energies were repaid only four minutes into the game when Seko Fofana netted the tournament’s first goal.

And as Côte d’Ivoire maintained their dominance over Guinea-Bissau, a second goal was always inevitable. And it came in the 58th minute through Jean-Philippe Krasso.

While no host nation has managed to win the AFCON tournament since Egypt did so in 2006, the victory seemed to plant a feeling among the crowd at the Alassane Ouattara Olympic Stadium that the quest to change that narrative was well on.

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