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2023: A prosperous year for African football

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With less than a few hours before the dawn of another year, CAFOnline reviews what has been another exceptional and memorable year for African football.

 

Senegal at the summit of Africa

An expression that resonated three times this year. 4 February 2023, Senegal lifts the  CAF African Nations Championship, for the first time in its history. The team led by Pape Thiaw won on penalties against Algeria, host country of the competition.

A collective success in which several individuals stood out, including the red-hot Lamine Camara who was voted best young player in the competition along with Pape Mamadou Sy crowned best goalkeeper.

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A few weeks later, it was the turn of their U-20 team coached by Malick Daf to shine, as they edged Gambia 2-0 at the  CAF U-20 Africa Cup of Nations final in Egypt to be crowned U-20 champions for the first time. Not only did they lift the title, but they impressively did also so without conceding a goal.

Motivated by the performances of their elders, the U-17s then followed suit and edged Morocco 2-1 in the  CAF U-17 Africa Cup of Nations final in Algeria. A tournament in which Amara Diouf was crowned top scorer of the competition with five goals.

 

CAN U-23: Morocco, Egypt and Mali qualified for the Olympic Games

 

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For the first time in their history, Morocco were crowned champions of the CAF U-23 Africa Cup of Nations. They did so in front of their fans when they played host to the tournament and defeated Egypt 2-1 after extra time.

 

The result meant both Morocco and Egypt gain automatic qualification and would then be joined by Mali who finished third at the competition.

 

 

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CAF Champions League: Al Ahly get eleventh star

Egyptian giants, Al Ahly secured their 11th  CAF Champions League in style after winning the first leg 2-1 to travel to Casablanca where they came from behind to snatch a 1-1 draw which saw them crowned African champions on aggregate.

The final was one of most talked about African club competition matches across the globe and set the tone for what promises to be another exciting edition of the competition in the current season.

 

 CAF Super Cup: USM Alger, the champion of champions

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CAF Confederation Cup winners, USM Alger came face to face with Champions League champions, Al Ahly at the King Fahd stadium in the Saudi city of Taif in a match that attracted millions of viewers globally.

An evenly contested encounter was separated by Zineddine Belaid in the 43rd minute which saw the Algerians do the unthinkable by beating Al Ahly in a cup final.

 

FIFA Women’s World Cup: Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia and Morocco shine

Suffice to say that the four African teams entered in the Women’s World Cup have left their mark on this tournament.

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Africa shone bright at the FIFA Women’s World Cup as for the first time in the history of the competition, three African nations made it through to the Round of 16.

Looking at some of the stand out performances, Zambia star player, Barbra Banda made history by scoring the 1000th goal of the competition when playing against Costa Rica.

Zambia’s African counterparts at the tournament, Nigeria, South Africa as well as debutants, Morocco all did well to fly the African flag high in their impressive performances in the group stages that saw them all advance to the knockout stages – a first in the history of the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

 

 

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Sundowns crowned African Football League champions

The African Football League has been the new attraction on the Pan-African football calendar. On the starting line, the eight most prestigious teams in African football and at the end a winner: Mamelodi Sundowns. The South Africans won at home in the second leg 2-1 against Wydad.

A first in the history of African Football, the African Football League lifted off in style this year with eight strong African clubs battling it out for the inaugural title.

After a fierce contest across the participating clubs, it was a north versus south battle at Mamelodi Sundowns edged Wydad AC in an exciting two-legged final that saw the South Africans crowned champions.

 

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Mamelodi Sundowns regain CAF Women’s Champions League title

In 2022, they left their throne to AS Far. For the second time in history, Mamelodi Sundowns won the CAF Women’s Champions League by beating Sporting Club de Casablanca 3-0.

U17 World Cup: Mali sweeps Argentina and finishes third in the competition

 

After surrendering the title to AS Far in 2022, Mamelodi Sundowns regained their continental crown in style after being crowned CAF Women’s Champions League winners without conceding a single goal.

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The final saw them comfortably cruise past SC Casablanca 3-0 to officially reclaim their title.

 

U17 World Cup: Mali sweeps Argentina and finishes third in the competition

The next generation of African football talent shone bright at the world stage during the FIFA U17 Word Cup.

After narrowly losing out to France in the semi-finals, Mali crushed Argentina 3-0 to win the bronze medal at the global showpiece thanks to goals by Mamadou Doumbia, Ibrahim Diarra and Hamidou Makalou.

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 -CAF

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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