Sun. Jul 21st, 2024

AFCON 2019 quarter-finals: Hunt for semi-final spots begin today

AFCON 2019 quarter-finals: Hunt for semi-final spots begin today

AFRICA

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.

Quarterfinal fixtures

  • Senegal vs. Benin
  • Nigeria vs. South Africa
  • Algeria vs. Ivory Coast
  • Madagascar vs. Tunisia

Quarterfinal Day 1: All you need to know

Senegal vs. Benin

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.

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