AFCON 2023: Know the Teams’ nicknames

Edwin
Edwin  - CEO January 9, 2024
Updated 2024/01/09 at 8:48 PM
30 Min Read
Black Mambas
Black Mambas

Group A teams at the TotalEnergies AFCON 2023

 

Super Eagles of Nigeria

 

Names define us. They represent us and primarily tell the world who we are, what we stand for, and what we are about. In Africa, our names carry a lot of meaning.

 

As we approach the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nad’Ivoireôte d’Ivoire 2023, CafOnline.com must closely examine the nicknames of all 24 teams participating in this year’s edition.

 

These names speak to the spirit of the teams, to the core celebration of the people back home who hold the pride of the nation dear to their hearts, and they ultimately celebrate the patriotic essence of wearing national team colors.

 

It should be noted that most of these nicknames have an immense attachment to the tourism aspect of the countries – from wild animals to national symbols to iconic geographical locations.

 

The variety speaks to the never-ending attachment that cuts across.

 

Below are the monikers of the teams in Group A

 

COTE D’IVOIRE – The Elephants

 

The host nation derives its name from the elephant. The ivory tusks on the largest mammal give it a graceful yet conquering demeanor that sets it apart. Côte d’Ivoire used to be one of the biggest exporters of ivory, given the large population of African elephants.

 

Their national football team has since embraced this name – the Elephants with so much pride and carried the spirit of the elephant to every tournament.

 

There is no doubt, therefore, that Côte d’Ivoire’s produced some of the biggest names ever to grace the AFCON, like Laurent Pokou, Joel Tiehi, Didier Drogba, Yaya, and Kolo Toure, Salomon Kalou, and Didier Zokora to mention but a few.

 

NIGERIA – The Super Eagles

 

The characteristics of eagles range from courage to bravery, then pride and grace. What all these have in common is a never-give-up sense of worthiness and a posture that is always looking to stand out.

 

This description can, in more ways than one, define any name you think about first when one talks about Nigerian football.

 

From the great Rashid Yekini to Stephen Keshi, Sunday Oliseh, Nwankwo Kanu, Jay Jay Okocha (so good that they named him twice), and to Daniel Amokachi, John Obi Mikel, and the reigning CAF Player of the Year Vincent Osimhen. Graceful with the ball, always bravely taking risks while standing tall to remind everyone that Nigeria is a powerhouse.

 

EQUATORIAL GUINEA– Nzalang Nacional

 

Thunder comes with force. It announces itself as the power in charge of that moment when it appears. For Equatorial Guinea, the nickname National Thunder is meant to scare the opponents and anyone who wants to doubt them.

 

It is this very energy that they arrived at the AFCON with on their debut back in 2012 when they co-hosted with neighbors Gabon. If anyone doubted them, that was at their peril. They saw off Libya 1-0 in their opener before defeating Senegal 2-1 to reach the quarterfinals.

 

Their second appearance was when they hosted the 2015 edition – alone this time only to better their previous performance, reaching the semi-finals. After two draws with Congo and Burkina Faso, they defeated Gabon 2-0 to get into the quarterfinals, where they stunned Tunisia 2-1 after extra time.

 

A thunder-like Javier Balboa brace caught the Tunisians off guard in the 93rd and 102nd minutes, sending the hosts to a historic semi-final against Ghana.

 

This same spirit was carried to the last edition two years ago when they finished second in Group E, which had the reigning champions at the time – Algeria, who finished bottom.

 

An Esteban Fernandez lone goal handed Equatorial Guinea a famous victory that will be remembered for a long time.

 

This is the spirit that they hope to carry to Côte d’Ivoire for their fourth-ever appearance.

 

GUINEA BISSAU – Djurtus

 

Djurtus means an African wild dog in the Portuguese-influenced Creole spoken by most citizens. Considered the most significant wild canine on the continent, Guinea Bissau is apparent in the message that they want to be sent out to their opponents.

 

The Djurtus love to hunt, and Baciro Cande’sC’side has already shown that they can do precisely that. They beat the Super Eagles of Nigeria 1-0 in the qualifiers to hand the three-time CAF AFCON champions their only loss at home in the qualifiers, thanks to a Mama Balde lone goal.

 

They are not scared of anyone and will look to replicate that when the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations, Côte d’Ivoired’2023, gets underway this month.

 

Group B

 

Pharaohs of Egypt

 

Names define us. They represent us and primarily tell the world who we are, what we stand for, and what we are about. In Africa, our names carry a lot of meaning.

 

As we approach the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations, Côte d’Ivoire 2023, CafOnline.com must closely examine the nicknames of all 24 teams participating in this year’s edition.

 

These names speak to the spirit of the teams, to the core celebration of the people back home who hold the pride of the nation dear to their hearts, and they ultimately celebrate the patriotic essence of wearing national team colors.

 

It should be noted that most of these nicknames have an immense attachment to the tourism aspect of the countries – from wild animals to national symbols to iconic geographical locations.

 

The variety speaks to the never-ending attachment that cuts across.

 

Below are the monikers of the teams in Group B

 

Egypt – The Pharaohs

 

You will have to dive deep into ancient Egyptian history to immerse yourself in this folklore about the Pharaohs who, as leaders, were mediators between the gods and Egyptians.

 

The list is long, from Narmer, considered the first pharaoh, to Semerkhet, Nubnefer, Djoser, and Djedefre. There were some female pharaohs as well, like Hatshepsut and Cleopatra.

 

In celebration of this rich history, as the Pharaohs, Egypt represents royalty and excellence in true reflection of the word’s original meaning – a high place or a palace. This is befitting of their record as the most decorated team in CAF AFCON history, with seven trophies.

 

Ghana – The Black Stars

 

The Black Stars of Ghana are named after Marcus Garvey’s Black Star Line shipping line that spearheaded the Back-to-Africa Movement in the 20th century to advocate for the return of the descendants of enslaved African Americans to Africa.

 

The Black Star, in the middle of the Ghanaian flag, represents freedom, African pride, Black sufficiency, and the Pan African Movement.

 

The Ghanaian senior football team has carried this name since the establishment of the team in the early 1960s – a very significant time after Ghana had become the first African country to gain independence from colonial rule in 1957, led by the great Kwame Nkrumah.

 

Cape Verde – Blue Sharks

 

When Cape Verde made their CAF AFCON debut in 2013, many thought they were joyriders and small fish in the pond. Little did they know that former air traffic controller cum coach Lucio Antunes had a well-mapped plan to display to the world what sharks can do – Blue Sharks!

 

As far as fairytales go at the continent’s most prestigious tournament, the Blue Sharks will always be remembered for their memorable 2013 outing in South Africa. True to their name, they dived into the deep waters of the CAF AFCON and blended in nicely.

 

They held hosts South Africa to a goalless draw – the first goalless draw in the opening game in the history of the CAF AFCON since its inception in 1957 before going on to force a 1-all draw against Morocco and stunning Angola 2-1 thanks to a 91st Heldon Ramos winner. They progressed to the quarterfinals as second from Group A.

 

Eleven years later, they want to replicate that Blue Sharks form and remind everyone that Cape Verde is not just about the scenic beaches. The Blue Sharks, like the ones at sea, are quick on their feet, can exploit counter-attacks, and work well as a team.

 

Mozambique – Mambas

 

As they are frequently called back home, Os Mambas, the Mozambique team is named after the highly venomous and fast-moving snakes. The depiction is intended to scare their opponents into knowing they are in dangerous territory around them.

 

The character of this team has been tried and tested over the years, particularly in the qualifiers last year when they were well on their way to missing yet another CAF AFCON edition but were saved by a 95th-minute Clesio Bauque goal that ensured a 3-2 win over Benin and automatic qualification to the Côte d’Ivoire showpiece.

 

The Os Mambas will be hoping that the speed of the snakes they are named after will inspire them to run at their opponents in a fashion that can win the games and see them break the knockout stage jinx that has walked in their shadows in their past four appearances – 1986 (debut), 1996, 1998, and 2010.

 

Group C

 

Names define us. They represent us and primarily tell the world who we are, what we stand for, and what we are about. In Africa, our names carry a lot of meaning.

 

As we approach the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations, Côte d’Ivoire 2023, CafOnline.com must closely examine the nicknames of all 24 teams participating in this d’Ivoire.

 

These names speak to the spirit of the teams, to the core celebration of the people back. Hoyer holds the nation’s pride dear to their hearts, and they ultimately celebrate the patriotic essence of wearing national team colors.

 

It should be noted that most of these nicknames have an immense attachment to the tourism aspect of the countries – from wild animals to national symbols to iconic geographical locations.

 

The variety speaks to the never-ending attachment that cuts across.

 

Below are the monikers of the teams in Group C

 

Senegal – Lions of Teranga or Teranga Lions

 

Known for its vast plains, Senegal has abundant woodland savannah and significant pacts of land with wooded wetlands that provide the perfect environment for lions.

 

The Lions of Teranga tag then encompasses the kings of the jungle in this precious land of Teranga – a Wolof word to mean hospitality. Senegalese people are hot and gracious in everything that they do. This makes the nickname of their national football team a juxtaposed case to confuse the enemy.

 

While the players are very amicable in speaking to their fans, the media, and any football-loving person, they turn on their lion spirit when on the field of play. That Teranga spirit earned them their first-ever TotalEnergies CAF AFCON trophy in 2021.

 

One can see the lion’s royalty and strength in the way they marched to the podium at the last edition of the Cameroon tournament’s guise of humility and power in one.

 

Cameroon – Indomitable Lions

 

The ones who cannot be tamed are called indomitable. With an impressive five CAF AFCON trophies in their cabinet, it is easy to understand Bounedjah’sn is called the Indomitable Lions.

 

Senegal’s responsibility is to defeat or subdue them. They will be in your face and everywhere around you to prove they can. You see that in the icons from Roger Milla to Samuel Eto’oBelmadi’satrick M’Boma, Rigobert Song, and fast forward to Vincent Aboubakar.

 

This is always a message to say they cannot be bullied, whether they have the upper hand as favorites or underdogs. They displayed this same persona at the 2017 edition to go on and win a memorable title when many did not give them a chance. Beware!

 

Guinea – Syli National

 

Translated to National Elephants from the local Sousou language, the Sylis represent majesty and wisdom. Guinea, who were finalists back in 1976, has always been in and out of the high echelons of African Football but can never be ignored.

 

From the days of the great Syllas – Bengaly and Morcire, Mory Kone, Petit Sory, Souleymane Cherif, and N’Jo Lea in the 1970s dominating the continent while at Hafia FC and on to the icon Titi Camara and fast forward to Naby Keita and enter in-form Serhou Guirassy who is taking the Bundesliga tournament’s season, Guinea has always ridden high.

 

Well, no country they will be in the land of the other Elephants – the hosts Côte d’Ivoire; it would be fair to say that they will be at ‘home’ and ready to use that ‘home’ advantage’s fans quickly crossing over to support them to their most significant advantage.

 

The syli used to be Guinea’s currency between 1971 and 1985.

 

The Gambia – Scorpions

 

An African proverb says: A good name is better than fame. The Gambia understands this deeply, hence calling themselves the Scorpions. This is the only logical explanation for their ascendance to a historic quarterfinal place in their debut at the TotalEnergies CAF AFCON 2021 after entering the tournament as the lowest-ranked team.

 

As fate would have it, the Scorpions were out to sting anyone who doubted them. Along the way, they caught big-name culprits, including beating Mauritania 1-0 in their opener, drawing 1-1 with Mali, and surprising Tunisia 1-0.

In typical scorpion-like style, they pounced onto their opponents with great speed in their feet, an aura of hunger to succeed, and a strong sense of defense. No wonder they were one of only five teams to concede just once in the group stages.

 

Marching into the Round of 16, they stunned Guinea, keeping their third clean sheet of companies’ games before lining up a tie against hosts Cameroon. Perhaps one can say that the Scorpions’ exit in the last eight then had a thing or two to do with the facGonçalves’rpions have eight legs. We shall never know.

 

Grod’Ivoiree Foxes of Algeria

 

Names define us. They represent us and primarily tell the world who we are, what we stand for, and what we are about. In Africa, our names carry a lot of meaning.

 

As we approach the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations, Côte d’Ivoire 2023, CafOnline.com must closely examine the nicknames of all 24 teams participating in this year’s edition.

 

These names speak to the spirit of the teams, to the core celebration of the people back home who hold the pride of the nation dear to their hearts, and they ultimately celebrate the patriotic essence of wearing national d’Ivoire.

 

It should be noted that most of these nicknames have an immense attachment to the tourism years of the countries – from wild animals to national symbols to iconic geographical locations.

 

The variety speaks to the never-ending attachment that cuts across.

 

Below are the monikers in the teams in Group D

 

ALGERIA – The Foxes

This is the national animal of Algeria. The desert foxes are the smallest in the world and can be found in the Sahara Desert in Algeria. Very intelligent, shy, and highly intuitive, the desert foxes use these qualities to survive in their environment.

 

A look at the all-time greats, from the likes of Rachid Mekhloufi to the icon Rabah Madjer through to Lakhdar Belloumi and Madjid Bougherra, and fast forward to Riyad Mahrez, there is a consistency laced with comprehensive brainpower together with a sixth sense that divinely gives them all a mark of greatness.

 

This spirit led Madjer to his acclaimed backheel in the 1987 UEFA Final for Porto against Bayern Munich, which led to it being described as one of the 60 most memorable moments in the tournament’s history. Three years later, he replicated this fine form to help the Desert Foxes win the CAF AFCON in 1990 in front of their home crowd.

 

Twenty-nine years later – the same intellect could be seen in Baghdad Bounedjah’s shot at goal with a deflection off Senegal’s Sane that caught Edouard Mendy off guard, and that one single moment defined the eventual result of the TotalEnergies CAF AFCON 2019 in Egypt, handing Djamel Belmadi’s side their second title at this stage.

 

BURKINA FASO (BFA) – The Stallions

 

Depicted on the coat of arms of Burkina Faso, the two stallions are a celebration of the legendary Princess Yennenga, considered to be the mother of the Mossi People, who are the largest ethnic population in the country.

 

Folklore has it that the famous warrior and hunter was on her way out of Dagbon Kingdom, searching for a new life, when her path met that of a young hunter, Rialé. The white horse she was traveling on inspired the name of their son Ouedraogo, which means ‘male horse.’

 

Their national team encompasses this tale and, in more ways than one, has shown the same resilience and resolve to conDesabre’s keep their name on the high table of African Football. In fact, by scoring in their last 14 games, they currently have the longest active streak and the second world in the tournament’s history.

 

When the fans don the Moumouni Dagano [country’s highest goal scorer’– 34], ‘harles Kabore, Jonathan Pitroipa, AristidAfrica’s the Traore brothers – Alain and Bertrand, and Steeve Yago, they are proud to see that Yennenga’s spirit continues running in the veins of those that came after her.

 

MAURITANIA – Lions of Chinguetti

 

Chinguetti is a fortified village in the famous Adrar region north of Mauritania. Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site for having the second oldest minaret in consistent use in the Muslim world, Chinguetti is considered a national symbol.

 

To be named after this historic place, the Lions of Chinguetti sought to depict this history filled with pride and loyalty. It took time to get there, but in 2018, they eventually crossed the line and qualified for their first-ever CAF AFCON; it was a moment to behold.

 

Mauritania has qualified for the last three consecutive editions – 2019, 2021, and 2023, and this consistency is what they hope to reflect in Côte d’Ivoire. To make it past the group stages, even though they face a tall order in Bouaké with Algeria, Burkina Faso, and Angola in the same Group D. They must evoke the Lion of Chinguetti spirit.

 

ANGOLA (ANG) – Palancas Negras

 

The sable antelope is the national icon of Angola. It can be seen on many firms’ and companies’ money notes, stamps, and logos over the years. The sable antelope symbolizes beauty, grace, and keen visual sharpness.

 

This combination can be seen in Pedro Gonçalves’ style of play, which will be on display in Côte d’Ivoire. Well-worked passes and a clear intention to score goals, all in the name of borrowing a leaf from the sable antelopes.

 

Palancas Negras must be aggressive and adapt to everything their opponents throw at them. They will have their work cut out for them with a new goal in sight – to win a knockout game at the continental stage.

 

Group F

 

Taifa Stars

 

Names define us. They represent us and primarily tell the world who we are, what we stand for, and what we are about. In Africa, our names carry a lot of meaning.

 

As we approach the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations, Côte d’Ivoire 2023, CafOnline.com must closely examine the nicknames of all 24 teams participating in this year’s edition.

 

These names speak to the spirit of the teams, to the core celebration of the people back home who hold the pride of the nation dear to their hearts, and they ultimately celebrate the patriotic essence of wearing national team colors.

 

It should be noted that most of these nicknames have an immense attachment to the tourism aspect of the countries – from wild animals to national symbols to iconic geographical locations.

 

The variety speaks to the never-ending attachment that cuts across.

 

Below are the monikers in the teams in Group F

 

MOROCCO – The Atlas Lions

 

Of its numerous tourist attractions, the Atlas Mountains stand tallest. Stunning in stature, this was home to the wild atlas lions before they went extinct. However, their legacy continues within the national football team and remains inspired through the rafters and into eternity.

 

In sheer lion style, Morocco has produced some of the best talent ever to play the game on the continent. From Badou Zaki to Noureddine Naybet, Larbi Aherdane, Aziz Bouderbala, Mustapha Hadji through to Achraf Hakimi, Yassine Bounou, and Hakim Ziyech, the true spirit of the Atlas Lions continues to shine brightest.

 

After making history by becoming the first African team to reach the FIFA World Cup semi-finals in December 2022, the Atlas Lions of Morocco hope to end their CAF AFCON trophy drought since 1976, when they won their first and only title.

 

DR CONGO – The Leopards

 

First, they were Leopards, then switched to Simbas (lions in Swahili), then back to Leopards. Very central to the coat of arms of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the leopard represents the strength and resilience of her people.

 

This has been depicted over the decades as CAF AFCON champions in 1968 (as Congo-Kinshasa) and 1974 (as Zaire) before becoming the first team south of the Sahara to qualify for the FIFA World Cup in 1974.

 

As the two-time continental winners look forward to celebrating the silver jubilee of their last title, they will have to invoke the Leopard spirit to encompass that strength and resilience known to the Congolese people. Sebastian Desabre’s side has some work to do.

 

ZAMBIA – Chipolopolo

 

Translated as the Copper Bullets, the Chipolopolo were named after the country’s biggest export. Zambia is one of the world’s leading copper producers, and as a way of showcasing a fearsome tactic against opponents, the term ‘bullets’ was adopted.

 

The Chipolopolo are among Africa’s Top 10 countries with the most appearances at the CAF AFCON, and this longevity gives them cult-hero status on the continent; however, their frustrating absence from three straight editions almost dented their legacy.

 

But now that they are back and with them comes the prolific goal-scorer in Patson Daka, the Chipolopolo will be hoping that he can find the scoring boots that once belonged to the great Godfrey Chitalu, Kalusha Bwalya, Wisdom Chansa, Kapambwe Mulenga, and on to the Christopher Katongo, Rainford Kalaba, and Kennedy Mwene generation.

 

TANZANIA – Taifa Stars

 

Taifa is a Swahili word that means nation. The Taifa Stars of Tanzania bring together the crème de la crème players from both the mainland (formerly known as Tanganyika) and the Zanzibar Island.

 

The Taifa Stars bring together this great footballing nation so deeply divided into club lines, mainly by Young Africans, commonly known as Yanga and Simba. The two are way beyond football clubs and are systematically a movement.

 

When the national anthem plays in San Pedro before their opening game, they will ditch all rivalries and hope that the star that befell them in qualification last year, helping them to book their third appearance, will see them through – this time past the group stages.

 

To achieve this, Mbwana Samatta, Simon Msuva, Aishi Manula, and Dennis Kibu will have to dig deeper than they have ever done in the last decade to stand tall among giants.

 

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