After twelve days of group stage action and two days of rest, the journey to African Cup of Nations, AFCON, glory resumes today in the land of the pyramids, Egypt.
The group stages coughed up lots of incidents from the goals, the misses, the blunders and the tactics. Not to forget the fans in the stands, the permutations as to who qualifies for the knockout not forgetting the empty stadia.
But with the group stage over, eight out of the 24 teams were eliminated whiles sixteen teams will in the next four days be whittled down to eight for the quarter finals.
⚡️ “AFCON 2019: Benin gets praise on Twitter after eliminating Morocco”https://t.co/Epd1D79CYm
— Alfa Shaban (@AlfaAfrican) July 5, 2019
June 6: Day two of knockout [Previews]
Egypt vs. South Africa
The hosts are back in action against South Africa in the knock out round specifically the round-of-16 stage of the competition.
Egypt’s path to this stage was without blemish. Winning all three games and not conceding a goal. They finished top af their group (Uganda, DRC, Zimbabwe).
The South Africans were third in their group which had Morocco, Ivory Coast and Namibia. Their only victory came against Namibia. The Bafana Bafana qualified as one of four third-best placed sides.
There are eight trophies between the two sides. Egypt have a record seven titles whiles South Africa boasts its 1996 glory when they hosted and won it. Egypt beat South Africa to the hosting rights after CAF stripped Cameroon of the rights in late 2018.
Nigeria vs. Cameroon
Nigeria and Cameroon also have eight trophies between them. Cameroon with five and Nigeria with three.
The stakes a high for a Cameroon side that has failed to get the much needed goals and a Nigerian side that needs to make a strong statement after shock defeat to debutants Madagascar.
Both sides were rocked by bonus rows, the Cameroonians just before the tournament whiles the Nigerians staged their protest during the group phase.
Senegal up against Uganda
Senegal held on to a first half lead to beat Uganda by a goal to nil in their round-of-16 clash in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, on Friday night.
A Sadio Mane strike in the 15th minute means the Teranga Lions have qualified for the quarter finals where they will be meeting the Squirrels of Benin.
Uganda finished second in their group behind hosts Egypt. Senegal also finished in the same position behind Algeria.
In the first round-of-16 game, Benin shocked Morocco by beating them on penalties after a one-all draw and extra-time.
Turns out to be a battle of “losing finalists.” Senegal lost the 2002 final whiles Uganda lost it in 1978.
Morocco kicked out by Benin
The first round of 16 match between Morocco and Benin ended with victory for the Squirrels of Benin. The game was decide on penalties after a one – all draw led to extra-time in Cairo.
The West Africans proved the better composed from the spot scoring four as against one by the North African giants and pre-tournament favourites.
The first half ended goalless before Benin took a shock lead on the 54th minute through Adilehou. The Moroccans hit back on the 76th minute through En-Nesyri.
It is the first time the north Africans have conceded in the tournament after an unblemished group stage triple victory. Benin, meanwhile qualified after managing a third place finish in Group F.
— CAF (@CAF_Online) July 5, 2019
LIST: Round of 16 pairings
July 5: Uganda vs. Senegal in Cairo
July 5: Morocco vs. Benin in Cairo
July 6: Egypt vs. South Africa in Cairo
July 6: Nigeria vs. Cameroon in Alexandria
July 7: Madagascar vs. DR Congo in Alexandria
July 7: Algeria vs. Guinea in Cairo
July 8: Mali vs. Ivory Coast in Suez
July 8: Ghana vs. Tunisia in Ismailia
Preview: Morocco vs. Benin
The Atlas Lions of Morocco are one of three countries that qualified with a perfect record from their group. They won all their games and did so without conceding.
The other two are incidentally North African sides – Algeria and hosts, Egypt. Along with Tunisia, all north African sides at the tournament made it out of the groups.
The team rode on a one-goal record in beating Ivory Coast and South Africa after struggling to beat Namibia in the first game. In the end it took an own goal to secure full points against the Namibian side.
Benin on the other hand made the knockout stage as one of four third best placed teams. They competed in a group that had Ghana, champions Cameroon and Guinea Bissau.
They drew all their three games. Two-all against Ghana and goalless draw against Cameroon and Guinea-Bissau but three points was enough to get them through due to favourable goal record.
The battle lines are drawn, Morocco are favourites to not just win the tie but to go on and win their second trophy. Time will tell.
Preview: Senegal vs Uganda
The Teranga Lions of Senegal – one of the pre tournament favourites – lost one game in the group stage, defeat to Algeria.
But between the defeat they had beaten Tanzania and then Kenya to guarantee a second place finish and qualify for this stage.
They come up against East Africa’s only remaining representatives, the Cranes of Uganda, who also placed second in their group. Beating DR Congo, drawing with Zimbabwe and losing to hosts Egypt.
The Cranes will be looking to put behind them a pay row and to qualify for the quarter-finals. They’d first have to deal with Aliou Cisse and his charges. Time will tell.
#AFCON2019 REGIONAL BREAKDOWN: TEAMS IN KNOCKOUT
North Africa = 4 out of 4
Southern Africa = 2 out of 5
East Africa = 1 out of 4
West Africa = 7 out of 9
Central Africa = 2 out of 2#alefabarea of Madagascar surprise package beat Nigeria to top Group B
Up against #LesLeopards pic.twitter.com/ehXfHIQsLr
— Alfa Shaban (@AlfaAfrican) July 4, 2019
#AFCON2019 STATS after end of Group Fixtures
— Alfa Shaban (@AlfaAfrican) July 3, 2019