Featured image by CAFOnline

In a stunning display of skill and determination, the Côte d’Ivoire Elephants are the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2023 winners. Edging out Nigeria 2-1 in a thrilling showdown, football fans worldwide were captivated. The triumph marks a crowning achievement for Côte d’Ivoire, capping off a tournament filled with unforgettable moments and compelling storylines. In case you missed it, we’ve compiled five engaging stories that caught our attention during AFCON 2023.

1. Witchcraft and football

Early on in the tournament, Côte d’Ivoire disappointed fans with their performance against Equatorial Guinea. In an article published by Le Monde, an international French newspaper, fans accused witch doctors from the Akradio village of selling the match. Riots and fires even broke out. It’s safe to say any further accusations are invalid now that Côte d’Ivoire has won AFCON for the third time.

Ibrahim Sangare of Cote D'Ivoire.
Photo credit: Issouf Sanogo/ AFP — Ivory Coast’s midfielder #18 Ibrahim Sangare during AFCON 2023 after group stage loss.

2. DR Congo calls for peace

Ahead of the semi-finals, DR Congo players chose to cover their mouths in silent protest. The action brought attention to the unrest in their country and served as a call for peace. They also wore black armbands as tribute to all of the lives lost in the conflict as a “mark of mourning” or “show of solidarity.” Multiple outlets covered the story.

“It was a message to show support to the victims, to notify [people] that there are indeed things happening in the east and that it is necessary to shed light on it. People are disappointed about that, too,” Congo DR’s French coach Sébastien Desabre said to ESPN after his team’s 1-0 loss.

DR Congo AFCON 2023 Protest
Photo credit: Imago — Congo DR Players Stage Silent Anthem Protest.
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3. Shocking deaths during AFCON 2023 semi-fnals

In an unfortunate turn of events, five Nigerian fans lost their lives during the semi-final game against South Africa. While all of the causes are unknown, the excitement and pressure of the semi-final game has been noted as a connecting factor.

4. Two billion tune into AFCON 2023

As anticipated by African Sports Unified (ASU), AFCON 2023 definitely transformed African football. CAF Media online tweeted that approximately 2 billion people watched this year’s tournament. This number exceeded what ASU asserted in its comprehensive analysis. Africans should be proud of this moment.

5. “Coupe de Marteau” goes viral

All across social media, Africans joyfully danced to Tam Sir’s “Coup de Marteau” — the dance challenge spread like wild fire on TikTok. Fans enjoyed it so much it became the unofficial song of AFCON 2023. As a result, organizers added a performance of the song to the Closing Ceremony.

Throughout AFCON 2023, underdog teams defied expectations, showcasing the depth of talent and unpredictability that defines the African football landscape. Off the pitch, AFCON 2023 also served as a catalyst for banter, unity and camaraderie. It brought together diverse cultures and communities in celebration of the beautiful game. As the celebrations continue, AFCON 2023 will be remembered as a testament to the enduring power of football.