Our football pundit previews the AFCON last 16 fixtures which kicks off on Friday 5 July 2019.
It’s time for teams to hit the reset button as we enter the knockout stage of the competition where permutations and calculators don’t work. The next game determines whether you stay in Egypt or you pack your bags and go home. The last 16 has some interesting matchups in store for us with South Africa firmly focusing on their clash against Egypt!
Friday 5 July
Morocco won all their group stage games 1-0 to finish with a perfect and comfortable record of nine points. Coach Herve Renard will be looking to win his third title with a third different team, having claimed it with Zambia in 2012 and Ivory Coast in 2015.
Benin scrapped through the group stages with three draws which highlights the fact that as much as they don’t win, they are hard to beat but I don’t see them troubling a solid Moroccan side, which has kept three clean sheets in the group stage. Back the Atlas Lions to triumph.
The match will be played at the Cairo International Stadium, a ground where Uganda have played all of their matches so far. Still, Senegal will fancy their chances despite finishing second in Group C behind Algeria as they boast arguably the best team on paper in the tournament.
It will definitely be a cagey affair between both sides and a tie that will be fun to watch for any neutral, but in terms of picking a winner, Senegal should manage their way past Uganda, who have shown glimpses of what they’re capable of in Egypt. At 13/20, Senegal are well-priced to win the match, but for more value, take them to Win to Nil at 11/10!
Saturday 6 July
Nigeria rested the likes of Alex Iwobi, Odion Ighalo and Daniel Akpeyi for the last match of the group stage to keep them fresh for this clash.
The Super Eagles last tasted AFCON glory in 2013 and this shall be a compelling contest between them and the defending champions who have won one game so far in this competition. Nigeria has more quality and I think it will help them edge the Indomitable Lions.
South Africa 57/10
All odds are heavily stacked against South Africa as Egypt are the tournament favourites, they are playing at home and have a dangerous Mohamed Salah in their arsenal. This was the final of the 1998 tournament which the Pharos won 2-0 and ever since, there’s been one other AFCON meeting between these sides which Egypt won 1-0.
South Africa will be without suspended Themba Zwane and it shall be very interesting to see who replaces him. The goalkeeping position has also been tinkered with as we still don’t know the first-choice goalkeeper between Ronwen Williams and Daren Keet. Put your money on the tournament favourites.
Sunday 7 July
Madagascar are the surprise package of the tournament as it’s their first ever appearance but they managed to top their group which contained teams like Nigeria, Guinea and Burundi.
This is the draw DRC would have been hoping for and I foresee them gaining momentum against the rookies. This one is not easy to call but I will back DRC.
Star-studded Algeria have been free-scoring, winning three games without conceding a single goal and for me, they’re one of the teams that could go all the way. The likes of Riyad Mahrez, Sofiane Feghouli and Islam Slimani have been causing teams all sorts of problems.
Guinea are over-reliant on Liverpool superstar, Naby Keïta and they qualified for this stage as one of best third-placed teams. I foresee Algeria winning this one.
Monday 8 July
Ivory Coast 27/20
This should be Mali’s sternest test as they easily topped their group after two matches and made eight changes for the side that beat Angola 1-0 last time out.
On the other hand, despite having a star-studded team, it took a while for the Ivorian team to gel but when they did, they sent out a strong message to their would-be opponents by dismantling Namibia 4-1 with Wilfred Zaha hitting the back of the net on his first start in the current campaign. I think this will be a cagey affair but the Elephants of Ivory Coast should edge it.
Ghana have been quietly going about their business and they topped their group with Jordan Ayew producing a man of the match performance in their match against Guinea-Bissau.
Tunisia have been very disappointing as they drew all their group matches to just about qualify for this stage of the competition. I don’t see Ghana losing and I wouldn’t be surprised if they don’t win so I’m backing them to win or draw at 7/20.
TREBLE TIPPED @ 5/1
Written by @EggsBenedictZA