The TotalEnergies AFCON 2021 round of 16 has come to an end with eight teams eventually reaching the quarterfinal stage.
As preparations continue for the journey to see the likely teams that will reach the last four, Sports Intelligence Magazine looks at the teams and makes predictions on the likely four teams to slug it out in the semis.
Burkina Faso versus Tunisia
Match 46 – Saturday 29 January 2022 – 17:00 local time (16:00 GMT) – Japoma Stadium, Douala
This clash will be a match that will display high level of tactical prowess. Burkina Faso will be looking forward to reach the semis and set the tone for them to win their first ever title in the continental showpiece after missing out in 2013 when they reached the final but were defeated by Nigeria.
But they will be facing a Tunisian side who have tasted the AFCON glory once on their home soil in 2004 and will be strongly looking forward to win a second title. If there is anything Burkina Faso must fear Tunisia for in this edition, it is the fact that they tactically expunged the Super Eagles of Nigeria out of the tournament and keep their hopes alive despite being a depleted side
PREDICTION: Tunisia to reach semifinal
Gambia versus Cameroon
Match 47 – Sunday 30 January 2022 – 16:00 local time (15:00 GMT) – Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium, Yaounde
Gambia have come a long way in this edition, making their debut and scaling through in their group after finishing second with seven points tied with Mali who finished top. No one has given them a chance but as a debut, they have made serious statement so far. Only Egypt (1957), Ghana (1963) and South Africa (1996) have won the AFCON title on debut, and Gambia may become the fourth nation to accomplish that feat. Gambia have nothing to lose reaching this point, they can only spring up surprises.
However, they will be facing a five time champions who are host and will be playing on home soil at every stage in this tournament with huge support from their fans irrespective of the venue. With Vincent Aboubakar in top form and leading highest goal scorer, Cameroon will be looking forward to win their sixth title on home soil. They have also benefited immensely by playing a depleted side since this event started due to Covid-19 restrictions.
PREDICTION: Gambia to reach semifinal
Egypt versus Morocco
Match 48 – Sunday 30 January 2022 – 20:00 local time (19:00 GMT) – Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium, Yaounde
The two North African sides will be struggling to keep an Arab hope of winning this edition when Egypt and Morocco in the quarterfinal. Morocco have proved by their performances in this edition that they understand what it is to score and will want to capitalize on that when they meet seven time champions Egypt.
On the other hand, the Pharaohs having suffered their only defeat in this tournament to Nigeria have practically recorded a low goal range but at least they are being consistent. In their round of 16 they edged the Ivorians after penalties, showing that they can at least defend even though they cannot score. The burden of this team lies on the shoulder of Mohammed Salah but his performances so far shows that he is a European champion. Can Salah replicate what he has done with Liverpool in Egypt?
PREDICTION: Morocco to reach semifinal
Senegal versus Equatorial Guinea
Senegal will be looking forward to win their first ever continental showpiece and will continue in their quest when they file out against Equatorial Guinea in the quarterfinal stage. So much will be expected from their captain Sadio Mane who has so far impacted by scoring two of the three goals which the team have scored so far in the tournament. But much will be expected when they face Equatorial Guinea.
However, Equatorial Guinea are one of the teams that have proved that African football is no joke. A team that beat defending champions Algeria and also end their unbeaten streak must be respected, they have proved that they are a major contender in this tournament and have not come to add up to numbers. They are a good defensive side despite suffering their only defeat in this tournament in a 1-0 loss to Ivory coast at the group stage.
PREDICTION: Senegal to reach semifinal