TotalEnergies CAF AFCON 2023 enters knockout stage with mouthwatering fixtures

The group stage of the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations Cote d’Ivo­ire 2023, concluded on Wednesday night, setting up some highly antici­pated knock-out stage clashes.

The group stage produced everything expected of the grit the AFCON is made of; stellar shocks, goals, records, history and passionate fans turning up at match venues.

In the marquee match of the round, defending champions, Sen­egal, will take on tournament hosts Cote d’Ivoire on Monday 8pm kick off.

The Elephants suffered a shock 4-0 thrashing by Equatorial Guinea in their final group game but still advanced. They now face the daunting task of overcoming an in-form Senegalese side yet to drop points.

Two more African heavyweights will collide when Nigeria meets Cameroon tomorrow. Both teams had uneven group stages but re­main continental powerhouses.

Elsewhere, Morocco topped their group without conceding and will look to continue their fine form against South Africa on Tuesday.

After surprisingly winning Group A undefeated, underdogs Equatorial Guinea will try to cause another upset against Guinea on Sunday. First-time knockouts Na­mibia face a stern challenge from two-time quarterfinalists, Angola, tomorrow.

Despite an underwhelming group stage, Egypt’s pedigree as the most successful TotalEnergies CAF AFCON nation makes them dangerous opponents for DR Con­go when they clash on Sunday.

Other intriguing clashes see Mali take on Burkina Faso on Tuesday while Cape Verde battle Mauritania.

With sudden-death matches between some of Africa’s top sides, the TotalEnergies CAF AFCON Round of 16 promises pulsating action and drama as heavy favour­ites and plucky underdogs collide.

Below are some of the inter esting fixtures to look out for:

Nigeria v Cameroon

Despite a shaky start, the two giants managed their qualification to the round of 16 after their final round of matches.

Nigeria are hoping to end a decade of no TotalEnergies CAF AFCON trophy.

Rigobert Song is under pressure to give Camerounians a better performance in the knockout stage after struggling in the group stage, where they won just a game.

Obviously, one of the power­houses will be crashed out in the round of 16. The game is tomor­row at the Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium in Abidjan

Cape Verde v Mauritania

After a shocking run in the group stage which saw Cape Verde going unbeaten and leading a group involving two previous TotalEnergies CAF AFCON cham­pions, Egypt and Ghana, the Blue Sharks will have Mauritania to deal with in the round of 16.

Amir Abdou has already exceed­ed expectations by getting this far with Mauritania.

They can however write more history as they face Cape Verde on Monday, at the Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium.

Equatorial Guinea v Guinea

Equatorial Guinea shockingly managed to top a group involving hosts Côte d’Ivoire and Nigeria. They face a Guinean side who haven’t been consistent with results in this year’s TotalEnergies CAF AFCON.

The Syli Nationals will have the competition’s top scorer, Emilio Nsue, to deal with in this fixture set for the Alassane Ouattara Stadium on Sunday.

Angola v Namibia

Namibia made history by quali­fying to the knockout stage of the TotalEnergies CAF AFCON for the first time in their history since debuting in 1998. They face Angola who topped a group involving Burkina Faso and Mauritania with seven points.

Angola will want more based on their record in the history of the competition; two times quarter finalist. The game is scheduled to take place at Stade de la paix in Bouake on Sunday.

Mali v Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso brought their group stage games to a disappointing end after losing 2-0 to Angola.

Mali went unbeaten in all their group stage games and will have the advantage of playing at the Amadou Gon Coulibaly Stadium in Kohorgo, the venue they played most of their group games on Tuesday at the Amadou Gon Coulibaly Stadium.

Egypt qualified after drawing all group games, it was obviously not a good one for the Pha­raohs. As the most suc­cessful country in the history of the competition, their presence in the knockout stage is a threat to any team they face, and D.R Congo is no exception.

The game will be played on Mon­day at the Laurent Pokou Stadium.

Senegal v Côte d’lvoire

Following their disappointing 4-0 defeat on the final day, host Côte d’lvoire only progressed after Zambia lost to Morocco in their final group F game. They have been handed a tough test against defend­ing champions, Senegal.

Senegal have a 100 per cent record in the tournament and the fixture is a tough one for the host.

The game will be played at the Charles Konan Banny Stadium on Monday.

Morocco v South Africa

The 2022 FIFA World Cup semifinalists are on track to win the TotalEnergies CAF AFCON Côte d’lvoire 2023.

On their way to achieving the feat, they will face South Africa in the Round of 16.

The South Africa attack with Per­cy Tau and Themba Zwane will give the Moroccans lot of problems to deal with. The game is on Tuesday at the Laurent Pokou Sta­dium. — Cafonline

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