AFCON 2019: Quarter-finals to serve up crunch match-ups

Author: By Isaac Piyuori
Madagasca players on cloud nine after beating DR Congo

 Lavished with surprises and many unpredicted results, the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) has reached a milestone as all is set for the quarter-finals of the competition.

The tournament has so far proven to be very competitive yet interesting with unimaginable upsets as a number of tournament favorites have been shown the doorway by minnows, coming into the tournament in the round of 16.

 The likes of defending champions Cameroun, hosts Egypt, and tournament favorites Morocco and Ghana have all been sent packing in dramatic styles.  Awkward though, the boys have been separated from the men and football fans and enthusiasts cannot wait for the quarter- final, which promises to be no different, to kick off tomorrow.  

With a galaxy of stars in their squad, Senegal will hope to make it past the quarter-finals, for the first time since 2006, as they face Benin tomorrow at the 30 June Stadium.  The Taranga Lions will be fighting to redeem their dented image, having come under intense criticism for their poor performance in tournaments despite having players with individual quality. Benin will, however, take inspiration from their triumph over Morocco and hope to cause another upset.

South Africa, after causing hosts, Egypt a painful exit of the tournament, will be faced with another tough task against Nigeria tomorrow. The Super Eagles put up an outstanding performance to kick out  the defending champions, Cameroun, last Saturday and will hope to replicate this performance on Wednesday.  

Despite masterminding, arguably, the biggest upset of the tournament so far, the Bafana Bafana will still go into tomorrow’s game as the underdogs.
Football fans will, however, have to wait till Thursday to enjoy the mammoth  clash between tournament favorites, Algeria, and 2015 champions, Cote d’Ivoire. While the Elephants had to rely on a 76th minute goal from Wilfred Zaha to beat Mali yesterday, the Desert Foxes had an incredible 3:0 victory over Guinea.

Riyad Mahrez and his team mates will look to edge closer to achieving their hope of ending their AFCON jinx. They last won it in 1990 when they hosted. Cote d’Ivoire will, however, have to improve on their performance against Mali to get a win.

Ghana’s eliminators, Tunisia, will round the quarter-finals up with a game against resilient Madagascar. The debutants have shown a lot of resilience and confidence with impressive performance.  After beating Nigeria to top their group and also eliminating DR Congo, the Bareas will go into the game with more confidence.

The 2019 AFCON is becoming a tournament for underdogs and one can only expect more drama in the quarter- finals.