TotalEnergies CAF AFCON enters knockout rounds with mouthwatering fixtures
The group stage of the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations Cote d'Ivoire 2023, concluded on Wednesday night, setting up some highly anticipated knock-out stage clashes.
The group stage produced everything expected of the grit the TotalEnergies CAF AFCON is made of; stellar shocks, goals, records, history and passionate fans turning up at match venues.
In the marquee match of the round, defending champions Senegal will take on tournament hosts Cote d'Ivoire.
The Elehpants suffered a shock 4-0 thrashing by Equatorial Guinea in their final group game but still advanced. They now face the daunting task of overcoming an in-form Senegalese side yet to drop points.
Two more African heavyweights will collide when Nigeria meets Cameroon. Both teams had uneven group stages but remain continental powerhouses.
Elsewhere, Morocco topped their group without conceding and will look to continue their fine form against South Africa.
After surprisingly winning Group A undefeated, underdogs Equatorial Guinea will try to cause another upset against Guinea. First-time knockouts Namibia face a stern challenge from two-time quarterfinalists Angola.
Despite an underwhelming group stage, Egypt's pedigree as the most successful TotalEnergies CAF AFCON nation makes them dangerous opponents for DR Congo.
Other intriguing clashes see Mali take on Burkina Faso while Cape Verde battle Mauritania.
With sudden-death matches between some of Africa's top sides, the TotalEnergies CAF AFCON Round of 16 promises pulsating action and drama as heavy favourites and plucky underdogs collide.
Below are the interesting fixtures to look out for:
Nigeria v Cameroon
Despite a shaky start, the two giants managed their qualification to the round of 16 after their final round of matches.
Nigeria are hoping to end a decade of no TotalEnergies CAF AFCON trophy.
Rigobert Song is under pressure to give Cameroonians a better performance in the knockout stage after struggling in the group stage, where they won just a game.
Obviously, one of the powerhouses will be crashed out in the round of 16.
The game is on Saturday, January 27 at the Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium in Abidjan
Cape Verde v Mauritania
After a shocking run in the group stage, which saw Cape Verde going unbeaten and leading a group involving two previous TotalEnergies CAF AFCON champions , Egypt and Ghana, the Blue Sharks will have Mauritania to deal with in the round of 16. Amir Abdou has already exceeded expectations by getting this far with Mauritania.
They can however write more history as they face Cape Verde. The game is on the Monday, January 29 at the Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium.
Equatorial Guinea v Guinea
Equatorial Guinea shockingly managed to top a group involving hosts Côte D’Ivoire and Nigeria. They face a Guinean side who haven’t been consistent with results in this year’s TotalEnergies CAF AFCON.
The Syli Nationals will have the competition’s top scorer, Emilio Nsue to deal with in this fixture. The game is at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium on Sunday, January 28.
Angola v Namibia
Namibia made history by qualifying to the knockout stage of the TotalEnergies CAF AFCON for the first time in their history since debuting in 1998. They face Angola who topped a group involving Burkina Faso, Burkina Faso and Mauritania with 7 points.
Angola will want more based on their record in the history of the competition; two times quarter finalist. The game is scheduled to take place at Stade de la paix in Bouake on January 27.
Mali v Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso brought their group stage games to a disappointing end after losing 2-0 to Angola. Mali went unbeaten in all their group stage games and will have the advantage of playing at the Amadou Gon Coulibaly Stadium in Kohorgo. The venue they played most of their group games at. The game is on the January 29 at the Amadou Gon Coulibaly Stadium.
Egypt vs D.R Congo
Egypt qualified after drawing all group games, it was obviously not a good one for the Pharaohs. As the most successful country in the history of the competition, their presence in the knockout stage is a threat to any team they face and D.R Congo is no exception. The game will be played on January 28 at the Laurent Pokou Stadium.
Senegal vs Côte d'lvoire
Following their disappointing 4-0 defeat on the final day, host Côte d'lvoire only progressed after Zambia lost to Morocco in their final group F game. They have been handed a tough test against defending champions, Senegal.Senegal have a 100% record in the tournament and the fixture is a tough one for the host.
The game will be played at the Charles Konan Banny Stadium on January, 29.
Morocco vs South Africa
The 2022 FIFA World Cup semifinalists are on track to win the TotalEnergies CAF AFCON Côte d'lvoire 2023. On their way to achieving the feat, they will face South Africa in the Round of 16. The South Africa attack with Percy Tau and Themba Zwane will give the Moroccans lot of problems to deal with. The game is on January 30 at the Laurent Pokou Stadium.