by Mark Babatunde, at 08:00 am, January 27, 2017, Sports

AFCON Heats Up as 8 Quarterfinalists Emerge

 

The eight teams progressing from the group stage to the quarter finals at the ongoing African Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Gabon have emerged.

AFCON, Africa’s most-prestigious sport tournament, kicked off on Saturday, January 14th, when hosts Gabon played Guinea Bissau in a game that ended in a 1-1 draw. Guinea Bissau’s Joury Soares scored a late goal to cancel out Pierre Emerick Aubameyang’s earlier effort in the 53rd minute.

Teams That Struck Out

Now after more than 10 days of intense footballing action at the group stage, eight teams of the initial 16 have progressed to the quarter finals while another eight have been forced to abandon their cup ambitions since being knocked out of the competition.

Defending champions Ivory Coast as well as hosts Gabon unexpectedly crashed out in the group stage, after a string of poor performances. Zimbabwe, Morocco, Togo, Algeria, Uganda, and Guinea Bissau complete the list of teams that couldn’t make it out of the group stage.

The Lucky 8

Ahead of the crucial knockout stage, successful teams and football stars are scheduled to enjoy three days of rest, when they can prepare and strategize for their next games. Action will, however, resume over the weekend, with matches taking place across four venues in different cities on Saturday and Sunday. Here are the teams that have advanced.

Burkina Faso vs Tunisia

Egypt has lifted the Afcon trophy a record 7 times. Photo Credit: pulse

Egypt has lifted the Afcon trophy a record 7 times. Photo credit: pulse

Group A winners Burkina Faso will take on Group B second runners-up Tunisia at the Libreville stadium on Saturday, January 28th, at 6:00 p.m. local time. Burkina Faso may have enjoyed a strong tournament thus far, but they have never won the AFCON before. Tunisia lifted the trophy in 2004, so it will go in to the match with confidence knowing they have actually amassed more points than their opponents in the course of the group stage.

Senegal vs Cameroon

Senegalese team

Senegalese team. Photo credit: FSF

Four-time champions Cameroon will be hoping for a fifth title at the 2017 AFCON without yet facing defending champions Ivory Coast and tournament heavy weights, such as Nigeria and South Africa. Cameroon can expect a tough challenge from the star-studded Senegalese side, with the likes of Liverpool’s Sadio Mane. Senegal is Group B’s leaders. It will hope to get the better of the Cameroonians when they meet on Saturday at 9:00 p.m. in Franceville.

Congo DR vs Ghana

Ghana football

Ghana celebrating. Photo credit: Daily Express

Ghana is one of only three teams to have lifted the AFCON trophy on four different occasions. It arrived in the 2017 AFCON with a star-studded team that includes the Ayew brothers; Jordan and Andre of Aston Villa and West Ham United, respectively; and Thomas Partey of Athletico Madrid in Spain. Ghana can, however, expect a tough game from DR Congo, which topped Group C, a group that included Ivory Coast and Togo. Both teams face off at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday in Oyem.

Egypt vs Morocco

Egypt football

Egypt. Photo credit: Ahram Online

It will be a battle of the north Africans, when Egypt takes on Morocco in the last quarter final game at 9:00 p.m. on Sunday in the city of Port-Gentil. Group D winners and seven-time champions Egypt will expect something of an easy ride over Morocco who have lifted the AFCON trophy only once in 1976. However, both teams have a similar style of play. Morocco is coached by Frenchman Hervé Renard who has led two different teams to lift the trophy in two of the last three editions of the AFCON tournament.

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