Our football writer previews the quarter-finals of the AFCON 2017.
After what was an intense and entertaining group stage, we can only hope to ask for a blood pumping knockout phase. The quarter-finals are sure to keep us at the edge of our seats, with four mouth-watering clashes lined up.
Saturday will see the first two quarter-final ties on show, followed by the other two on Sunday evening. Burkina Faso, Tunisia, Senegal, Cameroon, DR Congo, Ghana, Egypt and Morocco are the remaining eight teams at the Nations Cup, but only four will remain by the end of the weekend. Let’s find out who will be sent packing!
Saturday 28 January
Burkina Faso 5/2 | Draw 2/1 | Tunisia 12/10
Burkina Faso and Tunisia will get the quarter-finals underway on Saturday evening. The Stallions topped group A level on five points with fellow quarter-finalists Cameroon but finishing with a better goal-difference. One win and two draws in a group that contained hosts Gabon and Cameroon isn’t bad at all but if Burkina Faso are to advance to the semi-finals, they will have to give their all against a strong Tunisian side.
Tunisia had a rough start to the tournament, after suffering a 2-0 defeat in their opening match against a superior Senegalese side. However, they rallied with back-to-back victories against Algeria (2-1) and Zimbabwe (4-2) to clinch a second-place finish and more importantly, a place in the quarter-finals. A tight affair is on the cards and a draw after 90 minutes looks a likely result.
Senegal 11/10 | Draw 2/1 | Cameroon 28/10
Tournament front-runners Senegal and Cameroon will clash in what promises to be a cracking contest. The Lions of Teranga made a solid start to the campaign with consecutive victories over Tunisia and Zimbabwe – both 2-0 wins – before settling for a 1-1 draw against Algeria to top group B with seven points.
Cameroon managed to earn a place in the last eight with just one win and two draws from three games. The Indomitable Lions have looked far from their best and will need to dig deep if they are to pull off a smash and grab against Senegal. The Lions of Teranga are dominating matches like no other team in this tournament and with that being said, they are tipped to put Cameroon to bed within the 90 minute market.
Sunday 29 January
DR Congo 26/10 | Draw 39/20 | Ghana 12/10
DR Congo and Ghana will kick-start Sunday’s AFCON quarter-finals. The dark horses of this year’s Nations Cup must surely go to DR Congo after topping a group that contained the likes of pre-season tournament favourite’s Ivory Coast as well as Morocco and Togo. The Leopards finished on seven points from three games with two victories and the draw coming against the defending champions.
Ghana on the other hand, were in line to finish at the summit of group D after grinding out narrow 1-0 victories over Uganda and Mali but a 1-0 defeat to Egypt in their final group game saw the Pharaohs leapfrog them to claim top spot. The Black Stars are unbeaten in the last four meetings against DR Congo, claiming just one win and the draw occurring three times. It’s a difficult game to call but I simply don’t see much separating these teams and the draw should be backed.
Egypt 31/20 | Draw 37/20 | Morocco 2/1
The final AFCON 2017 quarter-final pits Egypt up against Morocco. The Pharaohs started the campaign with a dour goalless draw against Mali. They then shifted a gear to grind out 1-0 victories over Uganda and Ghana to top group D with seven points. Their defence has been solid but their attacking line has struggled and that will need to change if they are to come out on top against the Atlas Lions.
The Moroccans made a poor start to the Nations Cup, going down 1-0 to eventual group C winners DR Congo. Nonetheless, they came back strong with two wins on the bounce against Togo (3-1) and Ivory Coast (1-0) to claim a second-place finish and earn a spot in the quarter-finals. Morocco are looking much better following their opening day defeat but it will take a special performance to defeat the Egyptians. Back the Pharaohs to snatch another narrow victory.
LAST AFCON TREBLE WON @ 22/1
Senegal Draw vs Algeria (22/10)
DR Congo Win vs Togo (5/4)
Egypt Win vs Ghana (23/10)
QUARTER-FINAL QUAD TIPPED @ 46/1
Burkina Faso DRAW vs Tunisia (2/1)
Senegal Win vs Cameroon (11/10)
DR Congo Draw vs Ghana (39/20)
Egypt Win vs Morocco (31/20)
Written by Aaron Crowie