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.
- Senegal vs. Benin
- Nigeria vs. South Africa
- Algeria vs. Ivory Coast
- Madagascar vs. Tunisia
Quarterfinal Day 1: Teranga Lions chase out The Squirrels
The dream of winning a first AFCON continues for Senegal but it has ended for Benin who beat pre-tournament favourites Morocco to make the quarter-finals.
Senegal are looking to make the finals and go a step better than in 2002 when they were losing finalists.
A goal ruled out by VAR did not bother Aliou Cisse’s men who were holding on to a Idrissa Gueye lead in a game that they dominated for large portions.
70’ Idrissa Gueye scores for Senegal
73’ Mane doubles lead but goal ruled out by VAR
83’ Benin reduced to 10 men as Verdon gets marching orders
But for football, a match up between a lion and squirrel would be laughable but fans in the sparesly populated stadium in Cairo are witnessing that spectacle.
The Teranga Lions of Senegal are looking to book a semi-final slot but they first have to dispatch the Benin opposition.
The game has turned out to be a dominant display from favourites Senegal whiles the opponents appear to be wary tactically thwarting the onslaught.
The winner becomes the first semi-finalist ahead of the second quarter-final later today between Nigeria and South Africa.
Senegal vs. Benin – Preview
This fixture takes place at the 30 June Stadium in Egypt’s capital, Cairo pitting the Lions of Teranga against the Squirrels of Benin.
The two teams, who have never won the prestigious prize, will be hoping to book a place in the semi-finals and take a step towards making history.
Sadio Mane’s Senegal go into the match as favourites, but will be wary of a Benin side that is yet to win or lose a match at the tournament, having held football giants like Cameroon, Ghana and Morocco to stalemates.
‘‘We should give every team its right and respect Benin. There are no small teams in Africa, the quality is very similar. While we might be favorites on paper, papers don’t decide anything,’‘ said Senegal’s coach Aliou Cisse.
‘‘Our presence at this stage is not out luck, we worked hard and I believe in my players,’‘ argued Benin’s coach, Michel Dussuyer.
Senegal and Benin have not met before in AFCON history.
Nigeria vs. South Africa
Three-time African champions Nigeria, will take on South Africa’s Bafana Bafana who won the tournament when they hosted it in 1996.
The Super Eagles who overcame their nemesis Cameroon in the Round of 16 will be hoping to avoid the fate of hosts Egypt, who were upset by South Africa in the previous stage.
‘‘We’re preparing very well for the game because it will be very difficult and against a strong team,’‘ Nigeria’s star forward Odion Ighalo said ahead of the July 10 fixture at the Cairo International Stadium.
South Africa beat Nigeria away in their opening match of the AFCON qualifiers in June 2017, and were held 1-1 in the return fixture.
‘‘Nigeria is one of the best teams in the tournament and it’s going to be a difficult match,’‘ conceded South Africa’s coach, Stuart Baxter.
Head to Head record
- Nigeria 2-0 South Africa, semi-final in 2000
- Nigeria 4-0 South Africa, group stage in 2004
Quarterfinals: Five ex-Champions, three non-winners
Five teams in the quarterfinals have tasted AFCON glory before as against three others who are chasing it for the first time.
Between the five ex-winners there are nine trophies. Nigeria (Three), Ivory Coast (Two), one each for South Africa, Tunisia and Algeria.
Three teams are chasing a historic first. Senegal, Benin and Madagascar. Incidentally that number will come down tomorrow as Senegal face Benin in the first quarterfinal.
West Africa’s dominance by way on numbers continues. Four teams as against two each from the north and southern Africa.
Over two days – July 10 and 11, the last four will be sorted out as the race towards the final heats up. Will it be a former winner taking back the trophy of it will be a virgin winner – for want of a better word. Time will tell.
Eight teams in quarterfinals – Five former winners and three non-winners.
Which of the three would you love to see win it for the first time?#Terangalions #AlefaBarea
# #LesEcureuils ??#FootballTogether #TotalAFCON2019
— africanews (@africanews) July 9, 2019
Ghana vs. Tunisia decided by spot kicks
Whiles Ghanaians expressed skepticism at the team’s penalty history, Tunisia last substitution was to bring on a reserve goalie for the kicks.
We have an #Arrizabalaga moment in this #GHATUN match as #CarthageEagles goalkeeper Hassan has been subbed for pens. For a moment he was refusing. Mustapha must make sure he takes them to the Quarter Final. #TotalAFCON2019
— stanley kwenda (@stanleykwenda) July 8, 2019
- Wakaso goal for Ghana 1 – 0
- Naim scores for Tunisia 1 – 1
- Jordan Ayew gets Ghana’s second 2 – 1
- Khazri draws parity 2 – 2
- Ghana misses third 2 – 2
- Bronn puts Tunisia ahead 2 – 3
- Agbenyenu converts for Ghana 3 – 3
- Meriah restores Tunisia’s lead 3 – 4
Ghana vs. Tunisia in Ismailia is final fixture of round of 16. It was a goalless first half but with barely 20 minutes to end, the Tunisians took the lead but an own goal brought Ghana into it.
The game was decided via penalty kicks. The third to travel 120 minutes. The first was Benin’s victory over Morocco and Madagascar’s triumph over DRC.
73’ – Khenissi gives Tunisia the lead
90’ extra time – Bedoui equalizes at the wrong end
Ghanaian fans are fuming over a disallowed goal scored by captain Andre Dede Ayew in the first half. According to many of them, a Video Assistant Referee would have ruled it as a valid goal.
CAF will begin using VARs in the quarterfinals which Ghana is hoping to reach. The Black Stars are chasing a fifth AFCON trophy to equal Cameroon’s titles and put pressure on Egypt’s record seven.
— Alfa Shaban (@AlfaAfrican) July 8, 2019
Ivory Coast beat Mali to secure date with Algeria
A Wilfred Zaha strike on the 76th minute was all the Elephants of ivory Coast needed to book their place in the quarterfinals of the AFCON. They eliminated Mali by the result.
They will now face Algeria who qualified for the last eight on Sunday after beating Guinea by three goals to nil.
Mali had overturned a first half possession dominance by the Ivorians but failed to convert their chances.
The final round-of-16 fixture pegs Ghana’s Black Stars against the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia in Ismailia. Winner of the game faces Madagascar in the last eight.
Despite the Ivorian victory, Malian Moussa Marega emerged the Man of the Match.
— CAF (@CAF_Online) July 8, 2019
June 8: Mali vs. Ivory Coast updates
Mali and Ivory Coast will play in an all West Africa fixture in Suez, whiles Ghana take on Tunisia in Ismailia.
Winners of the Suez fixture will book a quarter final clash with Algeria whiles winner in Ismailia faces Madagascar in the next game.
Mali vs. Ivory Coast
Mali are yet to record a loss having won two and drawn one in the group stages. Wins over Mauritania and Angola and a draw with Tunisia.
On the other hand, Ivory Coast qualified to this stage winning two (Namibia, South Africa) and losing to Algeria.
It’s a battle of the first place finisher (Mali) and second-place finisher (Ivory Coast). Mali will be chasing their first AFCON trophy with Ivory Coast chasing their third.
— CAF (@CAF_Online) July 8, 2019
Ghana vs. Tunisia
Ghana topped their group thanks to a final group F victory against Guinea-Bissau. They had drawn their first two games 2 – 2 against Benin and goalless against Cameroon.
Tunisia placed second in Group E after three drawn games with Mali, Mauritania and Angola. They were the only north African country that failed to win a match in the group games.
Egypt, Morocco and Algeria won all their group fixtures without conceding in the process. Egypt has since been kicked out by South Africa and Morocco by Benin.
The Tunisians will look to being the second North African side after Algeria qualifies on Sunday evening with a 3 – 0 victory over Guinea.
— CAF (@CAF_Online) July 7, 2019
June 7: Algeria vs. Guinea
Algeria are the only team yet to concede a goal in the tournament and they have protected that record in their 3 – 0 win against Guinea in the sixth round-of-16 clash at the AFCON.
The two other teams with a similar record were kicked out of the competition in upsets. First was Morocco’s loss to Benin on Friday evening and Egypt’s loss to South Africa on Saturday night.
24’ – Youcef Bilaili’s give Algeria the lead.
57’ – Riyad Mahrez doubles the lead.
82’ – Ounas adds a third as Algeria cruises
Algeria will now face Madagascar who booked their quarterfinals ticket by beating DR Congo via penalties earlier today.
— CAF (@CAF_Online) July 7, 2019
June 7: DRC out as Madagascar progresses
The Leopards of DRC and the Barea of Madagascar battled for a place in the quarter-finals of the AFCON. Their game ended two all in regulation time.
Madagascar twice were in the lead but each time the Congolese pegged them back forcing the game into extra time. The debutants came tops in a shootout banging in four whiles DRC managed only two.
The will now wait for the winner of the game between Algeria and Guinea for a quarterfinal clash in the coming week.
90’ – Mbemba restores parity for DRC
71’ – Andriatsima restores Madagascar’s lead
21’ – Bakambu equalizes for DRC
9’ – Amada gives Madagascar an early lead
The Malagasy side have extra motivation to make more history with the country’s president Andry Rajoelina and CAF president Ahmad Ahmad watching them from the stands in Alexandria.
— CAF (@CAF_Online) July 7, 2019
— CAF (@CAF_Online) July 7, 2019
⚡️ “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