Will Nigeria win AFCON 2024? Explaining why Super Eagles have slipped from Africa supremacy

There is no hiding in the Africa Cup of Nations — the CAF’s continental championship tournament is one of the world’s best competitions at exposing every nation’s biggest flaws.

One country which has seen its struggles laid bare in recent years is Nigeria. Once considered one of Africa’s pre-eminent powers, Nigeria placed amongst the AFCON top three in 20 of 26 tournaments from 1976 to 2013, winning the title three times in that span.

Yet since their triumph in 2013, they have reached the podium just once, a third-place result in 2019. Outside of that, they failed to qualify altogether in 2015 and 2017 and were knocked out in the Round of 16 last time out in 2021. On a global scale, Nigeria was once considered a lock to reach the World Cup but failed to qualify for the 2022 tournament in Qatar and they have begun 2026 qualifying poorly.

No longer one of the continent’s most dominant sides, can the Super Eagles redeem themselves in 2024 and reestablish some credibility to begin a push towards a return to glory? They have an extremely talented side, but coaching and locker room harmony continue to threaten their standing amongst the rest of Africa. 

MORE: Full breakdown of Nigeria squad for 2023 Africa Cup of Nations

Africa Cup of Nations 2024 live stream, TV channel

  TV channel Streaming
USA beIN Sports, beIN Sports en Espanol Fubo USA, beIN Sports Connect
Canada beIN Sports Fubo Canada, beIN Sports Connect
UK Sky Sports Sky GO

The 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, played in early 2024, will be broadcast in the United States and Canada on beIN Sports, which is available to stream on both Fubo USA and Fubo Canada

In the United Kingdom, Sky Sports has the broadcast rights to the CAF international championship, with streaming available on its internet platform Sky GO.

Nigeria odds to win Africa Cup of Nations in 2024

  DraftKings
(USA)
  DraftKings
(USA)
Morocco +550 South Africa +5000
Senegal +600 Zambia +6500
Ivory Coast +700 Guinea +8000
Algeria +700 Tanzania +10,000
Egypt +800 Eq. Guinea +10,000
Nigeria +900 Cape Verde +10,000
Cameroon +1000 Mauritania +15,000
Tunisia +1100 Guinea-Bissau +15,000
Ghana +1400 The Gambia +15,000
Mali +2200 Namibia +20,000
DR Congo +4000 Angola +20,000
Burkina Faso +4000 Mozambique +25,000

While Nigeria remains in the top half of the AFCON field from a betting perspective, they are not amongst the perceived tournament favorites. Morocco is thought to be the most likely side to win the competition, while 2021 title winners Senegal are also near the top.

Hosts Ivory Coast, plus a pair of star-driven nations in Mohamed Salah’s Egypt and Riyad Mahrez’s Algeria are next on the list. Then Nigeria sits behind them, considered sixth-favourites to win. That’s a far cry from when the Super Eagles were a perennial top-three side in Africa. 

Will Nigeria win the Africa Cup of Nations in 2024?

Nigeria has the talent to reach deep into the 2024 Africa Cup of Nations, but it’s hard to imagine they will come out on top.

The Super Eagles have a roster full of top-class players. Most notably, Victor Osimhen has emerged as a world-class striker with Napoli and will be ready to lead the Nigeria front line at AFCON, having just won African Player of the Year in 2023. However, his supporting cast took a massive hit as Victor Boniface, who is having a breakout season with high-flying Bayer Leverkusen, went down with a serious groin injury in pre-tournament training and will miss the competition.

That leaves Fulham playmaker Alex Iwobi as the team’s most in-form chance generator. AC Milan winger Samuel Chukwueze and Leicester City forward Kelechi Iheanacho will be major players as well, but both of those individuals have struggled for form this year.

While this roster is strong, they have struggled to translate talent into results. The Super Eagles have started World Cup qualifying with a pair of disappointing 1-1 draws to Lesotho and Zimbabwe, and they were beaten days before the start of the AFCON tournament 2-0 by Guinea in a pre-tournament friendly. Nigeria must find ways to score more goals if they are to avoid another disappointment.

The five-year coaching tenure of German boss Gernot Rohr failed after falling short of expectations at the 2021 AFCON tournament, and Portuguese boss Jose Peseiro will know his status will hang strongly on this competition. They could reach the semifinals, but there are more cohesive sides like Senegal, Morocco, and Egypt that are likely to have a better shot at lifting the trophy.

Will Victor Osimhen win top goal scorer at Africa Cup of Nations?

Player Nation Top Scorer odds
(FanDuel — USA)
Club
Mohamed Salah Egypt +500 Liverpool (ENG)
Sadio Mane Senegal +600 Al Nassr (KSA)
Victor Osimhen Nigeria +700 Napoli (ITA)
Youssef En-Nesyri Morocco +850 Sevilla (ESP)
Sebastien Haller Ivory Coast +1100 Borussia Dortmund (GER)
Riyad Mahrez Algeria +1200 Al Ahly (KSA)
Vincent Aboubakar Cameroon +1200 Besiktas (TUR)
Inaki Williams Ghana +1400 Athletic Bilbao (ESP)
Jordan Ayew Ghana +1600 Crystal Palace (ENG)

While Nigeria may be bested at AFCON by more established sides, striker Victor Osimhen could be poised for a shot at the tournament’s Golden Boot award. Fresh off winning 2023 African Player of the Year, the highest individual honor an African footballer can win at the continental level, all eyes will be on Osimhen and Nigeria as they look to prove their worth.

The Super Eagles have struggled to score goals in recent months, and their inability to find the net as a whole does not bode well for Osimhen’s goal-scoring chances in the Ivory Coast this January, and his regression in form at Napoli this season is another red flag.

Yet if Nigeria can find their form, they are capable of scoring goals in bunches. The quantity needed to win AFCON top scorer is usually low, so a few big games would do the trick, and even in the absence of the injured Victor Boniface, there’s enough creative quality in this Super Eagles team to give Osimhen the volume of chances required.

Given that betting favourite Mohamed Salah plays for such a defensive side, and many of the other top picks are in poor club form, it could be a wide-open race for Golden Boot, and Osimhen should play a big part in the final standings.

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