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Total 2019 Africa Cup of Nations Preview – (Round of 16)

Eight are out and eight more hopes will be dashed after this round as we begin to separate the pretenders from the real contenders. Starting from Friday, the 32nd edition of the Total African Cup of Nations switches into another gear – the knock out phase of the competition. All the matches in the Round of 16 should provide us with better football and excitement.

Here is our preview of the eight fixtures in this round.

MOROCCO v BENIN – FRI. 05 JULY 2019, 17.00HRS
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Group D winners – Morocco face Benin at the Al Salam Stadium in Cairo in the first game of the Round of 16. The Atlas Lions won all group matches by a narrow one nil score line and were by far the strongest team in the group. Minnows, Benin made it through as one of the best third place teams; Les Écureuils didn’t lose any group game as they battled their way in Group F against top nations – Cameroon and Ghana. There is no hiding place for any team from now on so we anticipate a tough match with both teams yet to taste defeat in Egypt. The onus is on Morocco who are favorites for this game as they target a place in the last eight.

VERDICT – Morocco and Benin met in the 2004 AFCON with the North Africans running away as comfortable winners in Sfax. This is the fifth meeting between these two teams and Benin are yet to register a win against Morocco. The Atlas Lions won the last meeting between both nations in AFCON and would be eager to continue that trend. Benin have shown in this tournament they can challenge the bigger nations but Morocco’s quality and technical depth gives them the edge. Do not expect a high scoring game; under 2.5 goals is the likely outcome.

UGANDA v SENEGAL – FRI. 05 JULY 2019, 20.00HRS
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A place in the quarter-finals is at stake between Uganda face Senegal at the Cairo International Stadium in Cairo. The Cranes finished as Group A runner-up while the Terranga Lions finished in similar position in Group C. Senegal and Sadio Mane are yet to impress at AFCON even with the five goals scored and the Liverpool attacker’s brace. Aliou Cisse team hasn’t found the momentum and there are no second chances at the stage if the dream is to conquer the continent. Sébastien Desabre’s men provided one of the early shocks in the tournament taking apart DR Congo in the group opener and fought bravely against Egypt in the final group game. Emmanuel Okwi will test Kalidou Koulibaly’s led defense in Cairo.

VERDICT – Both nations have met thrice in the past with Uganda yet to register a victory against Senegal. However, the last meeting in 2017 ended in a goalless stalemate. Uganda were wasteful against Egypt and that could be their Achilles heel on Friday. We are expecting an attacking game from both teams; over 2.5 goals in Cairo.

NIGERIA v CAMEROON – SAT. 06 JULY 2019, 17.00HRS
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Both teams will be kicking themselves for failing to win their respective groups having taken early initiative. Nigeria lost their final group match to Madagascar and it has to be pointed that Gernot Rohr’s team has done the barest minimum in the opening two matches to qualify. Cameroon kept three clean sheets in the group stage but Clarence Seedorf’s team haven’t impressed in Egypt. The quality of football offered by both nations with eight AFCON titles between them has been below expectation. Cameroon are the defending champions and their title defense credentials will be tested in this duel against an old rival in Alexandria.

VERDICT – In six AFCON meetings, Cameroon have three wins to Nigeria’s two. The Super Eagles beat the Indomitable Lions 2-1 in the quarter-finals of the 2004 AFCON which was the last AFCON meeting. Nigeria are unbeaten in their last five matches against Cameroon, claiming three wins and two draws in that run. Nigeria have won 6 of their last 7 AFCON matches while Cameroon have failed to score in their last 2 AFCON matches. These two teams seem to be evenly matched and the game could likely to go into extra-time.

EGYPT v SOUTH AFRICA – SAT. 06 JULY 2019, 20.00HRS
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With three wins and no goal conceded, Egypt are on course to host and win the tournament like they have done in the past. South Africa managed to squeeze through as one of the best third placed teams; the Bafana Bafana haven’t impressed in the tournament and the face an enormous task of playing the host and the passionate crowd at the Cairo International Stadium. Stuart Baxter’s men have managed one victory and a single goal in three matches which adds to the unenviable task ahead of them as they target a huge upset. Lebo Mothiba, Percy Tau and Themba Zwane have struggled to make an impression in Egypt. On the other hand, Mohamed Salah has been excellent for the Egyptians with two goals in the group stage. He is the focal point for the Pharaohs but will be supported by the impressive Trezeguet.

VERDICT – Egypt have won the two AFCON meetings between both countries. However, both South Africa and Egypt have three wins apiece in their head-to-head clashes. South Africa have won two of the last three encounter, however, judging by current form in the tournament, Egypt are favorites and we are tipping them to get the job done against South Africa.

MADAGASCAR v DR CONGO – SUN. 07 JULY 2019, 17.00HRS
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The Barea of Madagascar are one of the biggest surprises of the tournament, with the team beating the Burundi and Nigeria on their debut at Africa’s showpiece to book their place in the last 16. The confidence will be sky high for Nicolas Dupuis men ahead of the clash against DR Congo who made barely made it through. The Leopards managed to confirm their place in the knockout phase thanks to an impressive Match-Day 3 victory and emerge as one of the best third placed teams. Florent Ibenge’s men have good quality in attack but are often inundated by poor defending. Madagascar have found the back of the net in all three group matches and will fancy their chances against DR Congo.

VERDICT – This is the first AFCON meeting between these two teams. However, the last two encounters between these nations have seen both teams get on the score sheet. The Barea and Leopards have firepower in attack and enjoy an open style of play with both teams impressing in attack. Cedric Bakambu will lead the line for DR Congo while Carolus Andriamatsinoro with two goals in this competition is the outlet for Malagasy. Both Teams to Score is the tip for this Alexandria game.

ALGERIA v GUINEA – SUN. 07 JULY 2019, 20.00HRS
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The Desert foxes have shown their predatory skills in Group C including an impressive victory over Senegal to finish as group winners. Guinea made it through as to the last 16 as one of the best third place teams after finishing behind Madagascar and Nigeria in Group B. The Algerians are one of the teams with a 100% record in the competition and shown their quality in the tournament. Guinea haven’t been convincing at the AFCON yet and the fitness of influential midfielder Naby Keita has robbed the team of quality in the middle of the park. Can Syli Nationale create an upset at the 30 June Stadium on Sunday?

VERDICT – Algeria and Guinea have met twice at AFCON with a victory apiece. In addition, the last three meetings have seen 1W, 1D, 1L each. In Riyad Mahrez, Adam Ounas and Baghdad Bounedjah, the Fennecs have an impressive attacking trio that will give Guinea defense a lot to think about. Algeria are the favorites for to win this tie.

MALI v IVORY COAST – MON. 08 JULY 2019, 17.00HRS
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There would be fireworks in Suez when Mali and Ivory Coast lock horns for a place in the last eight. Mali finished as Group E winner; they were impressive through the group stage with wins over Mauritania and Angola. Ivory Coast will be looking to build on their excellent win over Namibia in the Round of 16 tie against Mali. The Ivoirians must have learnt from their defeat to Morocco to take nothing for granted in the tournament. This is another stern test for them having failed the first against Morocco. What do these two West African countries have in store for us Suez?

VERDICT – In four previous AFCON meetings, Les Éléphants are yet to suffer a defeat against Les Aigles. However, Mali’s performances in Egypt mean they will hold their own against Ivory Coast and push the 2015 Champions all the way. Both teams have quality in attack therefore they should be goals at both ends but this might go all the way to Extra Time and possibly penalty shootouts. BTTS

GHANA v TUNISIA – MON. 08 JULY 2019, 20.00HRS
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After a rather slow start for the Black Stars, Match-Day 3 victory over Guinea-Bissau saw Kwesi Appiah’s team leapfrog Cameroon to win Group F and set up a fascinating clash against 2004 champions – Tunisia. The Carthage Eagles have failed to soar but three draws were enough to see Alain Giresse’s team finish second in the group and progress. There is much more improvement required from Tunisia but the silver lining is that they are proving difficult to beat and that’s the enormous challenge for Ghana. Jordan Ayew has two goals to his name already and he is proving to be a handful for defenders in Egypt. The Crystal Palace striker and his brother are the ones Tunisia needs to worry about in Ismaila.

VERDICT – This is one of the most played matches at AFCON – seven in total as we prepare for number eight. The head-to-head is firmly in favor of the West Africans with six victories and one draw. The last was in Franceville, Gabon in 2012 with the Black Stars prevailing 2-1. The odds are firmly stacked against Tunisia and they would require something special on Monday. We are anticipating a close game but Ghana are slight favorites. Over 1.5 goals is our tip for the Ismaila clash.

It is a wrap on our previews for the Round of 16 matches at the Total 2019 Africa Cup of Nations. The quarter final is next; keep playing, keep winning…. Predict and win big by visiting our Sports shop Babaijebu.ng for mouthwatering offers in Africa’s biggest football showpiece.

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