The 34th edition of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON2023) has been described by football lovers around the world as the most entertaining and unpredictable since the competition started in 1957.
The top five teams according to the latest FIFA ranking ( Senegal, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt) have all been knocked out by the so-called underdogs in the competition. The shocking defeat of the round of 16 was the exit of the defending champions ( Senegal) who were knocked out by the host nation ( Cote d’Ivoire).
As we count down to the quarter-final games which we kick off on Friday, February 2, 2024. We have decided to highlight two teams ( Cote d’Ivoire and South Africa) that should advance to the semi-finals if they decide to do the right thing.
The Elephants as they are nicknamed have emerged as one of the dark horses of the competition following their impressive performance against Senegal in the round of 16.
Cote d’Ivoire were on the brink of elimination but they had to qualify for the knock-out stages with the skin of their teeth. However, the host nation have shown the world that whatever happened during the group stage was just a bad patch and they are capable of going all the way in the competition.
Cote d’Ivoire will face the Eagles of Mali in what promises to be an amazing football game. However, the host nation are favourite to qualify for the semi-finals because of the history between both sides in the past.
The home support will also be an advantage for the Ivorians as they will play the role of the 12th man when the game kicks off.
Head to Head:
Both teams have faced each other 10 times in recent years (2008). The Ivorians have won six of those fixtures while Mali have won just twice with two others ending in a draw.
Recent form at AFCON
Mali vs Burkina Faso (2-1)
Mali vs Namibia (0-0)
Mali vs Tunisia (1-1)
Mali vs South Africa ( 2-0)
Cote d’Ivoire vs Senegal (1-1) AET**
Cote d’Ivoire vs Equatorial Guinea (4-0)
Cote d’Ivoire vs Nigeria (0-1)
Cote d’Ivoire vs Guinea Bissau (2-0)
The Bafana Bafana of South Africa will be looking to rewrite the history they wrote in 1996 when they won the Africa Cup of Nations. They came into this competition as one of the underdogs in this tournament but their victory against the top-ranked team on the continent ( Morocco) in the round of 16.
The game will be interesting for the neutrals to watch because of the close contrast between both teams. However, we have tipped South Africa to beat Cape Verde in the quarter-final stage because of the experience that is in the South African squad and the momentum coming in from the game against Morocco.
Here are three reasons why South Africa will beat Cape Verde
(1) The majority of the South African league are home-based players which gives them the ability to be in sync whenever they are on the pitch.
(2) Blue Sharks are ranked 77th in the world, attending only their fourth Afcon, while Bafana Bafana is ranked 66th in the world.
(3) South Africa has faced Cape Verde on five previous occasions; two wins, a draw, and two losses.
Both teams last met in 2017 during the qualifying campaign for the 2018 FIFA World Cup with Cape Verde winning both legs.