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AFCON 2023: What can we learn from the quarter-finals?

AFCON 2023: What can we learn from the quarter-finals?

The quarter-finals of the CAF Africa Cup of Nations were once again rich in emotion and twists and turns. At the end of the round, what are the lessons to be learned?

The Elephants still alive

Humiliated and disappointing, Côte d'Ivoire struggled in the group phase, watching out for the results of other teams and hoping to reach the Round of 8 thanks to a better ranking than the 3rd-placed teams. After Morocco's victory, Côte d'Ivoire fans celebrated in the streets of Abidjan. But it's always said that this is a competition that starts with direct elimination matches. This has never been true in the history of the AFCON.  After knocking out the reigning African champions and undisputed favourites for this 34th edition of the African Cup, Senegal, on penalties, the Elephants did it again in the quarter-finals.Séko Fofana's team-mates did just that against Mali, considered one of the teams to be feared thanks to their talented generation. Despite going behind to a majestic goal from Nene Dorgeles, the Eagles even missed a numerical superiority penalty after Odilon Kossounou had been sent off. These Elephants are never dead. As they used to say, "a returnee is never afraid". Interim coach Emerse Faé and his troops found the resources at Bouaké's Stade de la Paix to turn the match around with goals from Simon Adingra and Oumar Diakité.

An incredible success that makes this competition even more historic. More than ever, the host country is the favorite to win its own edition.

Mali still disappointing

If the Elephants are seen as heroes, this is not the case for the Malians.Judged too naive for several editions, this will not be the AFCON of maturity. So much talent and so much potential to fall short again. The Eagles have once again failed to mature. The recklessness of youth and the inability to manage a match where everything was in their favor. All in all, they were the great disappointment of these AFCON 2023 quarter-finals.

Super Eagles untouchable

Just a few weeks before the African Cup of Nations, a member of the Nigerian Football Association's executive board declared that they wanted to sack the coach, but they couldn't because they didn't have the money to do it. Today, Jose Peseiro is in the semi-finals of the African Cup. Soccer moves fast, and the Super Eagles can confirm this. Feared for the individuality of their attacking sector and not considered a favorite because of their feverish defense, they are thwarting all predictions. Having conceded just one goal since the start of the competition, the team-mates of the 2023 African Player of the Year, Victor Osimhen, are without doubt the most solid and reliable team in these direct elimination phases. Against an Angola side that impressed with its attack, Nigeria once again showed impressive solidity. This dominance and mastery in this match makes them a serious contender for final victory, with qualification to the semi-finals for the 15th time in their history.


DRC's pragmatism

"This is not the AFCON of surprises, but of hard work", said Sébastien Desabre when the match between DR Congo and Guinea was announced. The French coach was not wrong, as his hard work was rewarded by a place in the last four of the competition. The Leopards' accomplished performance against Guinea was a great achievement by a team that won for the first time in this competition. The team's rise to prominence came at just the right time. Led by decisive leaders such as Chancel Mbemba and Yoane Wissa, the DRC have entrusted their neighbor with the task of keeping an eye on the river, as they are on a mission and intend to return home as late as possible.


Bafana Bafana in the running

In the semi-finals of this year's edition for the first time in 24 years, South Africa are undoubtedly the most attractive team in the final four. With the backbone of Mamelodi Sundowns and their experienced coach, the 2017 African champion with Cameroon, Bafana Bafana are slowly but surely making headway. And when things aren't going according to plan against a resilient Cape Verde side, they can rely on their penalty-shootout specialist keeper. Ronwen Williams saved 4 of the Blue Sharks' 5 shots in the shoot-out. Never before in the history of national team competitions has such a performance been achieved. This could be a psychological advantage for future matches. Never face the 32-year-old Mamelodi Sundowns goalkeeper in this exercise.

Cape Verde, falling to the sword

For their first 4th appearance at the AFCON, Cape Verde have managed to reach the quarter-finals, as they did in 2013. This fine team's campaign was a success, as they were one of the sensations of this edition in Côte d'Ivoire. After losing out on penalties, the Requins Bleus are eliminated with high hopes for the next round.


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