AFCON 2023: How the underdog trend can inspire HTT Academy youngsters

AFCON 2023: How the underdog trend can inspire HTT Academy youngsters

The 2023 Africa Cup of Nations has grabbed the attention of the world for the amazing football and unexpected results on display.

Powerhouses like Morocco, Algeria, Ghana, Tunisia and defending champions Senegal amongst others have fallen while Angola, Guinea and Cape Verde are in an unprecedented quarter-final.

These over-performing underdogs should serve as a source of inspiration to young footballers that anything is possible with hard work and determination in alignment with our values here at HTT Academy.

Playing as the underdog in football can be a challenging but rewarding experience. Here are some tips for HTT Academy youngsters to maximise their chances and make the most out of being the underdog as we have seen at the ongoing AFCON:

Embrace the Underdog Mentality:

Use the underdog status as motivation. Embrace the opportunity to prove doubters wrong and demonstrate your team’s resilience and determination.

Solid Defensive Strategy:

Focus on a well-organized and disciplined defensive strategy. Limiting the opponent’s scoring opportunities can frustrate them and provide your team with a chance to capitalize on counterattacks.

Team Unity:

Strengthen team unity and camaraderie. Underdogs often succeed by working together as a cohesive unit. Encourage effective communication and support among teammates.

Study Your Opponent:

Analyze the strengths and weaknesses of your opponent. Identify areas where you can exploit vulnerabilities and devise a game plan that plays to your strengths.

Set Pieces and Counterattacks:

Capitalize on set-piece opportunities and counterattacks. These can be effective weapons for underdog teams, providing a chance to score goals against stronger opponents.

Fitness and Endurance:

Ensure your team is physically fit and has the endurance to maintain a high level of performance throughout the entire match. This can be particularly advantageous late in the game.

Stay Disciplined:

Discipline is crucial, especially against superior opponents. Avoid unnecessary fouls and maintain tactical discipline to avoid leaving gaps that skilled opponents could exploit.

Be Confident, Not Overconfident:

While confidence is essential, avoid overconfidence. Respect your opponent but believe in your abilities. Focus on executing the game plan and taking advantage of opportunities as they arise.


Be prepared to adapt your strategy based on the flow of the game. If certain tactics are not working, be flexible and willing to make adjustments to counter your opponent effectively.

Mental Toughness:

Develop mental toughness within the team. Expect challenges and setbacks, but maintain a positive and resilient mindset. Overcoming adversity is a hallmark of successful underdog stories.

Learn From Experiences:

Regardless of the outcome, use the experience to learn and improve. Analyze the match, identify areas for development, and use the lessons to become a more competitive team in the future.

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