On Tuesday night, AFCON’s Round of 16 concluded. But just like the group stage, the outcomes were unexpected.
As the tournament unfolded, it was looking like the final could have been Senegal v Morocco. However, that turned out to be far from the truth. In an unexpected turn of events, Senegal and Morocco bid the tournament goodbye after losing to Ivory Coast and South Africa respectively.
Angola v Namibia: 3-0
Nigeria v Cameroon: 2-0
Cape Verde v Mauritiana: 1-0
Morocco v South Africa: 0-2
Equatorial Guinea v Guinea: 0-1
Egypt v DR Congo: 1(7)-1(8)
Senegal v Ivory Coast: 1(4)-1(5)
Mali v Burkina Faso: 2-1
Missed penalties sealed the fate of title favorites
Ivory Coast did not have a positive group campaign. They finished 3rd in their group, with 2 losses and only 1 win. Their performances were disappointing, to say the least, and it was expected their journey would end at the R016. However, in their game against Senegal, they turned up the heat. Ivory Coast gave their best performance of the campaign and it earned them a place in the quarterfinals.
Senegal managed to score a goal in the 3rd minute of the game. In the remaining 87 minutes, Senegal easily lost the ball, and Ivory Coast remained a threat for most of the game. Senegal’s defense, as well as Édouard Mendy’s efforts throughout the game, kept the score line in Senegal’s favor. However, a foul from Mendy led to the title defenders conceding a goal to the hosts in the 86th minute.
With both teams unable to add to the scoresheet during extra time, the game went down to penalties. In his first-ever AFCON campaign, Senegal’s Moussa Niakhate was the only one to miss a penalty, allowing Ivory Coast to advance to the quarterfinals.
FIFA's five highest-ranked countries at AFCON are all out pic.twitter.com/QxOfP2xkn1
— B/R Football (@brfootball) January 30, 2024
As for Morocco, their upper hand in terms of possession was not enough to secure them a place in the quarterfinals. Morocco saw their goal disallowed by VAR. The first half therefore ended goalless, with both teams unable to convert any real opportunities.
Morocco seemed to still be dictating the game as the second half came along, but they were still unable to find the back of the net. South Africa however were able to do so with a goal in the 57th minute.
Morocco got a chance to equalize when they were awarded a penalty following a handball, but PSG’s Achraf Hakimi missed the target as he hit the crossbar. A red card for Sofyan Amrabat and a stunning goal directly from a freekick for Bafana Bafana sealed the fate of the North African team.
Anyone’s game now
After an unpredictable group stage and an unpredictable Round of 16, it is safe to say that this is anyone’s game now. Osihmen and Nigeria look to be the new favorites, but just as the previous stages have proven, things may not go this way.
Nigeria v Angola – 1-0
DR Congo v Guinea – 3-1
Cape Verde v South Africa – February 3rd
Mali v Ivory Coast – February 3rd
DR Congo, despite having only won one of their games so far in real time have been playing exceptionally well and might be the team to watch. After Ivory Coast’s performance against Senegal, the hosts have proven that they shouldn’t be discounted.
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