The reliable bookmaker 1xBet announces the Africa Cup of Nations 1/8 finals matches, which will be held from January 27 to 30.
Angola v Namibia
Both teams are not among the top 100 in the FIFA rankings, so their qualification for the Afcon playoffs came as a big surprise to all experts. Angola drew with Algeria, and victories over Mauritania (3-2) and Burkina Faso (2-0) brought them first place in Group D. The Black Antelopes played efficiently and effectively even without Fiorentina forward M’Bala Nzola, who refused to go to the tournament and probably regrets his decision. Now, Angola has every chance to repeat its best result and reach the quarter-finals for the first time since 2010.
Namibia has never qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations playoff stage before, and they managed to do this with an astonishing 1-4 goal difference. It is the worst result among the tournament’s top 16 participants. Still, having failed the match against South Africa (0-4), the Brave Warriors played against Tunisia (1-0) and Mali (0-0) without mistakes in defense.
The current stage is already a success for both neighboring countries, but why not aim for more? Angola is considered the favorite by bookmakers, but the Black Antelopes are more comfortable playing on counterattacks. As for Namibia, this squad has a historic chance, which it will hold on to with all its might.
Nigeria v Cameroon
We will see the classic struggle between the African giants in the playoffs 1st round. Nigeria and Cameroon finished second in their groups, but the Super Eagles pragmatically scored 7 points with a 3-1 goal difference, while the Indomitable Lions were on the brink of disaster. Only Christopher Wooh’s saving goal in the 91st minute of the 3rd round match with Gambia brought the team victory and took it to the playoffs.
Nigeria is rightly considered one of the main Afcon favorites. The Super Eagles are not playing spectacularly yet. Still, they have fearsome attacking potential represented by some of the world’s best forwards: Victor Osimhen, Samuel Chukwueze, and Ademola Lookman. At the same time, Jose Peseiro has given the team balanced football and relies on foolproof defense, while Cameroon has problems with it. The team conceded 3 goals after 3 shots on target from Senegal and, in total, allowed their group opponents to score six times.
Cameroon relies on standards and crosses in attack but is often lost in positional play. The last time the Indomitable Lions beat the Super Eagles was at the Afcon 2000 final, and they did it only in a penalty shootout. It won’t be any easier to win this time.
Equatorial Guinea v Guinea
Equatorial Guinea was the highest-scoring team in the group stage, having 9 goals despite their opponents being the powerful Nigerians and the host Ivorians. Emilio Nsue leads the Afcon scoring race with 5 goals, and only four squads in the tournament have better results than the 34-year-old forward, who plays in the Spanish third division.
The Elephants are confident in their abilities and want to continue a pleasant tradition. The team takes part in the Africa Cup of Nations for the 4th time, and in each of the 3 previous cases, it reached at least the quarter-finals.
It will be difficult for Guinea to contain the opponent’s attack and enter the top 8 for the first time since 2015. The squad did not keep a clean sheet in the matches against Cameroon (1-1) and Senegal (0-2), beating only the group outsider Gambia. The team’s main hopes are tied to better play from Serhou Guirassy and Naby Keïta, who have not yet shined in the tournament.
Egypt v DR Congo
The group stage two most “peaceful” teams will meet in the 1/8 finals. Egypt and DR Congo ended all their AFCON matches in a draw, so no one will be surprised if, on January 28, they bring the matter to a penalty shootout.
Egypt has lost its main star and is undergoing an emotionally difficult tournament. In the first round, Mohamed Salah scored a saving goal for the Pharaohs in the compensated time against Mozambique but was seriously injured during the next game with Ghana. Now, the forward is under the specialists’ supervision in Liverpool and, according to their forecasts, has only a theoretical chance of helping his team in the final. So, Mo’s partners will fight not only for their homeland and title but also for their captain.
DR Congo lost 4 official matches in a row to Egypt and is considered the struggle’s underdog. Still, the Leopards managed to secure a draw with the formidable Moroccans in the group. Will they break the series of Egyptian failures?
Cape Verde v Mauritania
The only victory in the group over Algeria was Mauritania’s first ever at the Afcon, which allowed it to qualify for the playoffs with 3 points. The Lions of Chinguetti have already completed the main task, but the appetite comes with eating – after all, the opponent is not considered an African grand. Mauritania plays thoughtful and organized football and still can surprise.
According to 1xBet, Cape Verde is the match favorite. The Blue Sharks flaunted in the group stage and showed the magic of numbers: they scored 7 points and 7 goals thanks to 7 different players winning Group B. Their head coach, Bubista, relies on disciplined football, and the team is ready to at least repeat its success in 2013 when they reached the tournament 1/4.
Senegal v Côte d’Ivoire
The reigning Africa Cup of Nations champion Senegal began their title defense with convincing victories in all three group stage games with a total 8-1 score. The Lions of Teranga delight with their team play, which does not depend critically on Sadio Mane’s actions. One of the main tournament stars, representing Saudi Al Nassr, has 1 goal and 2 assists, but the squad scored more than half of the goals without its leader. Now, it is the opportune moment for powerful Senegal to beat Côte d’Ivoire for the first time at the Afcon.
The tournament hosts considered one of the favorites, cannot bear the burden of responsibility and pressure from their stands. Côte d’Ivoire made it into the playoffs with great difficulty, beating only outright outsider Guinea-Bissau. The local federation fired their coach, Jean-Louis Gasset, after a terrible match in the 3rd round against Equatorial Guinea (0-4) and did not change their mind even when the team qualified for the 1/8 finals. Didier Drogba’s football heirs are poorly prepared for the tournament, and in the game with Senegal, they can only hope for a miracle and the loyal fans’ support.
Mali v Burkina Faso
Without a doubt, this is one of the most unpredictable pairings at the 1/8 stage! The Mali national team won Group E with one goal conceded, although, during the tournament, Yves Bissouma from Tottenham and Moussa Diarra from Toulouse got sick with malaria. The Eagles have shown resilience and are looking to enter the Afcon top eight for the first time since 2013.
Burkina Faso knows how to prepare for the main competition on the continent like no one else – over the past 11 years, the squad has made it to the Afcon semifinals three times. The Stallions conceded 4 goals in the group but defended well in key matches. There are few chances to see many goals in this struggle – both teams are unlikely to take risks.
Morocco v South Africa
After the 2022 World Cup semi-finals, the Moroccans want to build on their success and win the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time since 1976. One of the main competition favorites easily won Group F with 7 points and saved its main trump cards for the playoffs. The Moroccan national team’s favorite status looks obvious, but do not be so quick to give victory to the Atlas Lions. Morocco has never beaten South Africa in the Africa Cup of Nations final and lost to the Bafana Bafana in qualifying for the tournament in June 2023.
The South African national team’s best results are now a thing of the past – today, they rely on players from the local championship, but at the same time, they can defeat any favorite. For example, at the Afcon in 2019, they managed to sensationally eliminate Egypt with Salah.
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