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Africa Cup of Nations

Afcon 2021: Five storylines for the quarter-finals

2:37 AM EST 1/29/22
Mané Senegal
Picking out interesting narratives before the competition’s last eight kicks off on Saturday

  • Egypt celebrate Afcon 2021.

    Afcon 2021 Quarter-finals

    The action at the Africa Cup of Nations resumes on Saturday, with two matches each over the next two days to decide the last four.

    Despite the likes of Nigeria and the Ivory Coast exiting in the Round of 16, the finals has not lost any of its lustre, with tournament hosts Cameroon present and the two biggest names — Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane — respectively still present, supporter interest is still at a high level.

    Are there any standout narratives to draw from the upcoming fixtures?

  • Cameroon celebrate Karl Toko Ekambi goal vs Comoros, Afcon 2021

    Cameroon look to prevent getting unstuck against The Gambia

    Having dispatched Comoros 2-1 in the last 16, the Indomitable Lions are against another side making their competition debut.

    The Gambia have surpassed expectations in their maiden appearance, ending second with seven points in a group that contained Mali and Tunisia and they will strive to claim their biggest scalp against Toni Conceicao’s troops.

    Vincent Aboubakar is the tournament’s top scorer with six goals and the experienced frontman looks to become the first player to score in each of his nation’s opening five games in the competition’s history.

    The Scorpions will hope to catch the in-form striker on a rare bad day as they aim to match South Africa’s feat from 1996, becoming the first debutants to reach the Afcon semis.

    Bafana Bafana went on to claim that title, an achievement The Gambia would utterly relish.

  • Achraf Hakimi Morocco 2022

    Morocco’s bid to reach the semis

    Despite the nation’s perceived talent, the North African nation has badly underperformed at the Nations Cup since 2004 where they were beaten finalists.

    Since suffering that painful defeat by Tunisia, the Atlas Lions have never made it to the last four at the finals, often exiting the tournament at the group stage.

    This iteration hopes to change that, but first, they need to defeat regional rivals Egypt in the top clash of the quarters.

    Mohamed Salah is yet to sparkle at the finals, a situation Achraf Hakimi and his teammates look to keep on Sunday.

  • Sadio Mane of Senegal during the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.

    Will Senegal finally deliver a strong performance?

    It is safe to assert that pre-tournament favourites Senegal have been disappointing so far.

    The Lions of Teranga have not shown anywhere near their true quality, although there are a few mitigating circumstances.

    Be that as it may, their Round of 16 win over Cape Verde underscored their issues in midfield and attack, with the lack of control and sharpness in the final third apparent.

    Sadio Mane has netted twice but Aliou Cisse needs the Liverpool star’s teammates to be decisive as well when they battle an Equatorial Guinea team bidding to reach the last four for the second time in their history.

  • Youssef Msakni - tunisia - afcon 2021

    Tunisia keen to be third-time lucky

    Having overcome adversity to eliminate a Nigeria side that had claimed maximum points from their group stage fixtures, the Eagles of Carthage will back themselves for a semi-final berth.

    However, the North African nation will have to overcome its Burkina Faso hoodoo to make it there.

    Tunisia have never defeated the Stallions at Afcon — losing on penalties in 1998 and beaten 2-0 in 2017 — and they look to turn the tide this weekend.

  • Referee sends off Erickson Patrick Andrade, Senegal vs Cape Verde Afcon 2021

    Haphazard officiating

    Unfortunately, observers seemed to talk excessively about the officiating in the Round of 16 as more questionable calls were made.

    While Janny Sikazwe dominated headlines in the group stage, the all-round performance of officials have frankly been hit-and-miss, marred with debatable penalty decisions and strange sending offs.

    Will this continue in the quarters?