The 2019 Africa Cup of Nations enters a crucial stage, the quarter-finals. Algeria faces Ivory Coast in a huge clash, surprise package Madagascar face 2004 champions Tunisia while Senegal are looking to pursue their goal for the first-ever title in the tournament. Here are Things to look out for in AFCON quarter-finals. Bet on the AFCON here.
Clash of two favourites; Ivory Coast v Algeria
Algeria lost to Ivory Coast in the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals but are well poised to avenge that humiliating defeat when they meet on Thursday in the same stage this year. The Desert Foxes have arguably been the most impressive team in the tournament so far, recording four straight wins, with nine goals scored and none conceded. Crystal Palace star Wilfried Zaha then netted the only goal of the game in the Elephants’ win over Mali at this venue. However, Mali were the better team overall in that game and Ibrahim Kamara’s team are yet to prove they can go all the way. On paper, these two are evenly matched but who will carry the day on Thursday?
Nigeria’s chance for redemption
Competitively, Nigeria have only lost once to tonight’s opponents South Africa. Both teams produced impressive wins in the last 16 and will battle for a place in the last eight. Expectations are high for Nigeria this time around. After missing the 2015 and 2017 editions, this is the time for the Super Eagles to prove they’re one of the best on the continent. They eliminated holders Cameroon with a 3-2 comeback win in the last 16. However, they still haven’t produced a dominant performance one would come to expect from them. Facing a team that has beaten them once competitively in South Africa, they are favourites to reach the semis but must be wary of Bafana Bafana. The South Africans eliminated the Egyptians, who were dubbed favourites in the previous stage. Can they produce another shock result?
Will Madagascar’s fairytale continue?
Madagascar have exceeded all expectations in their first-ever AFCON tournament and their first four matches suggest they should no longer be underestimated. A country best known for their tongue-twisting names, Malagasy have stunned Nigeria and DR Congo to qualify for the quarters. Two players, midfielder Anicet Andrianantenaina and forward Charles Andriamahitsinoro, have particularly caught the eye. Whatever happens against Tunisia, a team with pedigree and therefore favourites, the Barea story is up there as one of the greatest moment in the tournament.
Senegal’s quest for their first AFCON title
Senegal were among our pre-tournament favourites for Africa Cup of Nations triumph. A footballing nation with a gleaming reputation on and outside of the continent, the Lions of Teranga have been the nearly team. They have failed to get over the hump over the years. In 2002, a year they stunned the world in the World Cup, they reached the AFCON final where they lost to Cameroon on penalties. This year, they’ve shown they have a squad that can go all the way, but do they have the belief? They’ll be facing surprise quarter-finalists Benin. Can they record a win or another upset is on the cards?
Race for the Golden Boot
The race for the Afcon 2019 Golden Boot is absolutely wide open. With DR Congo’s Cedric Bakambu out of the tournament with three goals, Senegal’s Sadio Mane, Algeria’s Adam Ounas and Nigeria’s Odion Ighalo sit top of the charts with three goals each. However, the likes of Riyad Mahrez and Wilfried Zaha arent far ahead with both having scored two each. The race is still wide open with the tournament entering the crucial stages.