AFCON 2021: Key financial figures from group stages

afcon 2021 key financial figures from group stages scaled

The whole of Africa waited a year longer due to COVID-19. Safety concerns were raised prior to the tournament. However, on January 9, 2022, Cameroon got the showcase underway.

As expected, this year’s AFCON has displayed much; passion, goals, upsets, and drama. 36 games have already been played with a few more to go to decide the winner.

With Algeria shockingly exiting the group stages, fans are assured of a new champion, one that will write a new chapter in this eventful tournament.

As the showcase continues, Joy Sports Financial journalist Bill Eshun reveals some key financial statistics.


This piece is mainly centered on the group stage and has two key sections for that; teams and players. Data from these two sections were extracted from Transfermarkt.

On the team section, starting XI’s in each group game was analyzed and compared to select the best and worst values.

Individual values of players in respective groups were also analyzed in the player section. Rankings in both sections were done according to groups with the player section becoming more important as multiple players from one group may be more valuable than one in another group.


In 2019, CAF started a new trend of allowing 24 teams to participate in the showcase, giving room for ‘minnows’ to compete fairly for the coveted trophy.

This year’s competition has been no different with a number of lesser-known footballing nations taking to the field with hopes of making history.

AFCON 2021: Key financial figures from group stages
Highest valued XI assembled in an AFCON 2021 group stage game (Rank done by group)

Senegal, prior to the start of this edition, was regarded as strong favourites to better their 2019 final defeat to clinch the AFCON trophy. This year, the Lions of Teranga named a strong squad for the task.

Ahead of the team’s final group game against Malawi, Aliou Cisse named a starting XI which amounted to €233.5 million, the highest presented by a team in the group stages. The said group B game ended 0-0, highlighting the team’s struggles despite a star-studded side.

Ivory Coast flexed their muscles with a starting eleven worth €197.15 million in a Group E game against Sierra Leone which surprisingly, also ended in a draw. The Elephants were more dominant overall than Senegal, earning seven points from a possible nine.

Nigeria, a team that made light work of Group D (nine points), deployed a starting XI worth €155 million against Sudan; a game they comfortably won 3-1.

All six teams who posted high valued starting XIs topped their respective groups, solidifying their statuses as highly ranked teams.

AFCON 2021: Key financial figures from group stages
Lowest valued XI assembled in an AFCON 2021 group stage game (Rank done by group)

On the lower end, Ethiopia (€1.175 million) named the lowest valued starting XI in the competition against Cameroon. The hosts responded with a 4-1 thrashing.

Right behind them was Sudan (€1.35 million) who faced Nigeria and Egypt in Group D. The Falcons of Jediane were beaten in both games.

Malawi, despite releasing a starting XI as low as €1.7 million in a group match, made it to the next round with four points; a commendable achievement.

The same can be said of Equatorial Guinea, who took it one step further by amassing six points in Group E, beating Algeria and Sierra Leone. They posted a starting XI with a value as low as €3.65 million.

Comoros, who revealed the lowest starting XI in a Group C match (€5.65 million), recorded a 3-2 win over Ghana on matchday 3 to book a place in the round of 16. They happen to be one of the debutants.


In 36 matches played, 68 goals were scored during the group stages. Out of the number mentioned, Cameroon’s main man Vincent Aboubakar was the most involved with five strikes (7.35%). He is only valued at €9 million.

Al Ahly and Malian midfielder, Aliou Dieng (€3.5) is the most valuable Africa-based player to make an appearance in the group stages. He is followed by Egyptian goalkeeper Mohamed El Shenawy (€3.0 million).

AFCON 2021: Key financial figures from group stages
Highest valued player to feature in AFCON 2021 group stage (Rank done by groups)

Outside the continent and overall, Mohamed Salah (€100 million) is the most valuable player to play in the competition. He is followed by fellow Liverpool attacker Sadio Mane (€80 million).

PSG full-back Achraf Hakimi places third with a value of €70 million. AC Milan midfielder Franck Kessie led Group E with a value of €48 million.

In Group A and F, Burkina Faso defender Edmond Tapsoba (€40 million) and Yves Bissouma (€25 million) recorded the highest values.

AFCON 2021: Key financial figures from group stages
Lowest valued player to feature in AFCON 2021 group stage (Rank done by groups)

Jean-Noël Amonome, a relatively unknown Gabonese goalkeeper, came to the competition with a market value of just €25,000, the lowest figure. The Amazulu shot-stopper featured in all three Group C games for his country as they made it to the round of 16.

In Group A, Ethiopia’s Ahmed Reshid recorded the lowest value (€50,000). He and his team, unfortunately, will play no further part in this year’s AFCON as Ethiopia was bottom of the table.

Malawi’s Zebron Kalima (€50,000) happens to be in a better position as his team prepares to face Morocco in the round of 16.

Four out of six players in the lowest valued column may have the chance to improve their numbers in the round of 16.

What to expect in the future

This competition showed that the values of players and teams don’t necessarily guarantee victories. An example was that of Comoros v Ghana where the Black Stars suffered a decisive blow despite valuing 81.225 higher (starting XI).

Algeria suffered a similar fate at the hands of Equatorial Guinea despite a gap worth €115.1 in their starting lineups.

Upsets of that nature could happen in the round of 16 and beyond. However, some of the most valuable teams (Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Cameroon) have played admirably and will be expected to perform well in subsequent games.