The tears and the upset, the joy and the celebrations; we have lots of oxymoron in the round of 16 as favourites crash out and underdogs power on into the latter stages of the 34th Africa Cup of Nations.
The quarterfinals is here and it is a stage where the men are ready to rumble. A battle for a place in the last four and become one of the biggest four teams in Africa.
Interestingly, all the quarter finalists in the last edition of the AFCON have all bowed out of the current tournament, meaning there will be a new set of semifinalists.
So let’s take a look at the quarter final match ups and their journey so far.
Nigeria v Angola
Both teams finished on the same point in the group stages – 7 points apiece. And in the round of 16 game, they both confidently dispatched their opponents; Angola defeated new boys, Namibia 3-0 while Nigeria overcame their arch rivals, Cameroon 2-0.
This shows that both teams are on the high in this tournament and are ready to go as far they can in the tournament.
Both teams have met a few times with Nigeria coming off worse in the situations. Nigeria’s Samuel Okwaraji slumped and died against Angola, they also lost the 2006 World Cup ticket to the Angolans in Kaduna.
This obviously means the memories are bad against Angola; however assistant captain of the Super Eagles, Kenneth Omeruo has said “the team is not interested in any history.”
The game to be played at the Le Felicia, a ground familiar to the Super Eagles having played two matches there already will mean a lot for both teams.
DR Congo v Guinea
This game perhaps is the least interesting tie of the quarterfinals as both teams do not really have any historical moments in the AFCON and going by their performance. Although, DR Congo are former champions of the AFCON – 1968 and 1974.
Going by this tournament, both teams have not been the best. Congo qualified as runners-up in their group while Guinea only made it as one of the four best losers.
In the round of 16, Congo overcame 7 time winners, Egypt on penalties and guinea needed a last minute winner to dispatch Equatorial Guinea.
With a not too convincing performance from both sides, be assured to see ‘gidigbo’ football at the Alassane Ouattara in Abidjan on Friday.
Mali V Cote D’Ivoire
The Ivorians celebrate every win as if they won the trophy. They are lucky to still be seeing their beloved Elephants in the tournament after they came in through the back door.
However, a spirited performance against defending Senegal, the defending champions have brought them back into trophy winning discussion. But standing in their way is another West African foe, the Eagles of Mali.
The Malians have been one of the balanced side in the tournament and they have confidently sailed through to the last 8, although they faced lots of pressure in the Burkina Faso game.
A spirited team versus a confident team in a West African derby, the match will bring something lively for the fans and neutrals.
South Africa v Cape Verde
The South Africans have grown into the competition having lost to Mali in the first game. They have quietly gone about their business and the victory against Africa’s number 1 ranked team, Morocco will boost their confidence and ego for the rest of the tournament.
On the other hand, Cape Verde have been one of the most liveliest teams in the tournament so far. An attacking display that brought the downfall of big teams like Ghana and Egypt and produced many goals along the line.
A contrasting round of 16 encounter where Bafana Bafana were clearly the better team and the Blue Sharks struggled against Mauritania. This will speak volume as they both aim to get into the last four – a historical moment in the history of Cape Verde especially who will be reaching the stage for the first time.
With only 4 former champions left in the tournament – Nigeria, Côte D’Ivoire, South Africa and DR Congo, with the latest winners being 8 years ago, we will be crowned champion in Abidjan come February 11, 2023.