Brazil may have netted the Copa America by beating Peru in the final last weekend and on the same day, the United States women’s team landed another FIFA Women’s World Cup to add to their impressive tally of top-level medals in the women’s game. However, in the African Cup of Nations, we are now only reaching the quarterfinals stage after what has been an interesting Round of 16.

The biggest shock was undoubtedly South Africa’s 1-0 victory over hosts and tournament favourites Egypt. The much-fancied home side were well beaten on the day by a strong South African display and this has now opened up the tournament more than ever, with a number of strong teams still remaining in the tournament, as well as a couple that have really surpassed their expectations in reaching the last eight.

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Let’s take a quick look now at the Round of 16 results

  • Morocco 1-1 Benin (Benin win 4-1 on penalties after extra time)
  • Uganda 0-1 Senegal
  • Nigeria 3-2 Cameroon
  • Egypt 0-1 South Africa
  • Madagascar 2-2 DR.Congo (Madagascar win 4-2 on penalties, after extra time)
  • Algeria 3-0 Guinea
  • Mali 0-1 Ivory Coast
  • Ghana 1-1 Tunisia (Tunisia win 5-4 on penalties, after extra time)

In addition to Egypt’s surprise defeat, Tunisia overturned a poor historic record against Ghana to knock them out on penalties, while the two surprise teams Benin and Madagascar both progressed into the quarterfinals with penalty victories. Benin are yet to win a game in the tournament in 90 minutes, having drawn all three of their group games before the match with Morocco.

The most impressive performers in the Round of 16 were Algeria, who capped a fine Group Stage performance with three wins out of three, with a stunning 3-0 rout of a decent Guinea side and at the moment, the North Africans look like they are the team to beat in the tournament having scored nine goals in their four games so far, without conceding a single goal in reply.

  • Leading Goalscorer

There are four players tied with three goals each at the top of the leading goalscorer charts. Cedric Bakambu of DR Congo has three goals but cannot add to that tally as his team have been eliminated which means Odion Ighalo (Nigeria), Adam Ounas (Algeria) and Sadio Mane (Senegal) who also have three goals each are in the driving seat.

Mane has also missed two penalties for Senegal, scoring one other.

AFCON Quarterfinals Preview and Tips

  • Senegal v Benin

It is amusing to think that Benin have reached this stage of the tournament without actually winning a game, but that is very much the case and their feat in doing so, for a team that was one of the underdogs in the tournament, should not be overlooked. However, they face a Senegal side that have made somewhat heavy weather of reaching this stage, winning games without ever really taking the chances that they create. They’ll need to be much sharper in front of goal to win the African Cup of Nations and if they can sharpen up, they have the quality to do precisely that. Senegal are my tip to win this game to move into the semifinals.

  • Nigeria v South Africa

Two of the biggest African teams meet in what is one of the most enticing clashes of the quarterfinals. No doubt Nigeria would have expected to face Egypt in this game and there’s no doubt that despite that strong performance against the hosts, South Africa are a much easier prospect than Egypt on home soil. Nigeria showed real resilience in beating Cameroon in the last round and they are going to need it against a South African side who were tactically superb against Egypt last time out. They’ll try to do the same here I believe, but I think Nigeria are more difficult to stop than Egypt going forward and that may be the difference here. I’m backing Nigeria to win a tight one by a 2-1 scoreline.

  • Ivory Coast v Algeria

The winner of this game will likely be installed as the strong favourite to reach the final and it is not difficult to see why. Ivory Coast have a team packed with star individuals, such as Wilfred Zaha and Franck Kessie, whereas Algeria, though they have the brilliant Riyad Mahrez are a far more rounded team and in these close games, I feel it is the team ethic that is the most decisive. Also, in terms of form, Algeria are the unquestionable team to pick having romped through the group stage, while Ivory Coast only really hit top form in their last game against unfancied Tanzania. This will be close and I feel that it may just be one goal that decides it, but ultimately I think Algeria will be the team that lands the victory.

  • Madagascar v Tunisia

I have to admit to being hugely impressed and surprised by how good Madagascar have been in this tournament. A country with very little football pedigree in the past has produced some outstanding displays in the group stage, winning their group unbeaten and then beat the much fancied DR Congo side in the last round. Tunisia will be a much tougher task though as this is a very professional side, very strong defensively but perhaps lacking in attack. As a result, I think that Madagascar’s relative inexperience at the highest level will count against them here. I do feel this one will go to penalties, so the draw at 90 minutes would be my tip, but I feel after that Tunisia will have just enough to clinch the win, either in extra time or, if required, on penalties.