The year 2024 promises a more exciting year for sports, with the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) will begin in Ivory Coast on January 13, where Nigeria will compete to claim the fourth AFCON.
The FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup, where the Falconets, 2022 World Cup quarter-finalists, have always been present in the global finals, will hope to fly the Nigerian flag high.
Also, the exciting 2024 Summer Olympic Games, where Nigerian athletes will be competing for honours. The qualifiers for the 2026 FIFA World Cup will resume, and football fans look forward to Nigeria avoiding the failure of not qualifying for the tournament’s last edition in 2022.
Here, BusinessDay takes a look at the six most significant sports events that will take place in 2024.
The excitement is already building ahead of the 2023 African Cup of Nations AFCON to be hosted by Ivory Coast from January 13 to February 11 in Ivory Coast.
A total of 24 nations will compete in this year’s AFCON; teams taking part have been split into six groups of four.
Half of them have been African champions at least once in the past; only five have never gone beyond the group stage.
The Super Eagles are drawn in Group A with host nations Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea and Guinea Bissau.
The Super Eagles will kick off their quest for a fourth AFCON title. They will take on Equatorial Guinea on Sunday, January 14 14, in their first match of Group A, before further clashes with host nation Cote d’Ivoire on January 18 and Guinea Bissau on January 22.
Nigeria Super Eagles will aim for their fourth AFCON title after winning it in 180, 1994 and 2013.
2024 Summer Olympics
Nigeria is scheduled to compete at the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris from July 26 to August 11 2024. Since the nation debuted in Helsinki in 1952, Nigerian athletes have appeared in every edition of the Summer Olympic Games, except for Montreal in 1976 as part of the Congolese-led boycott.
Nigeria will compete in five sports categories: Boxing, Athletics, Cycling, Wrestling and Canoeing.
The 2024 Summer Olympics will see 10,500 athletes (5,250 women and 5,250 men) contest 329 medal events across 35 sports. This includes 22 mixed-gender events. Gender equality in athlete numbers will be achieved for the first time at an Olympic Games. Australia is expected to send a Team of between 460 and 480 athletes.
FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup
The FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup 2024 will occur in Colombia from August 31 to September 22 22.
This year’s edition will feature 24 teams following FIFA’s decision to expand the number of participating teams.
The 24 participating teams will be divided into six groups of four. The top two teams in each group qualify for the round of 16, along with the four best third-placed teams. There will then be quarter-finals, semi-finals, a match for third place and the final.
Nigeria’s U20 female team, the Falconets, will take on Burundi and hope to eliminate the Swallows to move to the final round of qualification for the tournament.
Burundi will host the first leg of the fixture at the Azam Stadium Complex in Dar es Salaam over the weekend of January 12-14, with the return leg at the MKO Abiola National Stadium, Abuja, on Saturday, January 20.
The winner of the fixture will reach the last round of the qualification series, with those matches to be played in March 2024.
FIFA 2026 World Cup Qualifiers
The 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers will resume, and football fans hope Nigeria avoids the disaster of not qualifying for the 2022 World Cup.
The Super Eagles of Nigeria kicked off their 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Lesotho and Zimbabwe on a poor note.
Nigeria played a 1-1 draw against Lesotho and was held to another 1-1 draw by Zimbabwe on the 2026 FIFA World Cup African qualifying series Day, putting their chances of playing at the tournament in doubt.
Nigeria is currently third in Group C with two points, two points behind Rwanda, which tops the chart with four points.
The 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers resume in June 2024, with Nigeria hosting South Africa before travelling to an away game against Benin Republic.
The Eagles will ensure they defeat South Africa and avoid defeat against the Benin Republic to brighten their chances of playing at the 2026 World Cup, jointly hosted by the USA, Canada, and Mexico.
Germany will host the tournament, which is scheduled to take place from June 14 to July 14 2024
In total, 24 teams will qualify through the results of the European Qualifiers, which run until November 2023, and via play-offs scheduled for March 2024.
Twenty one of the 24 teams are now known, with only the three teams progressing from the play-offs still to be determined.
The 2024 Copa America will be hosted by 14 cities across the United States from June 20 to July 14.
After leading Argentina to a winning the 2022 World Cup, Lionel Messi will be aiming to lead La Albiceleste to 2024 Copa America glory before hanging his boot for the national team
The 36-year-old Inter Miami star recently spoke about his future with the Argentina national team, winning the Copa America and playing at the 2026 World Cup.
“Today, all I’m thinking about is getting to the Copa América, being able to play in it, and hopefully being able to fight again and try to be champions. Then, time will tell if I’m there”.