Through all the chaos of the summer transfer window, it can be hard for fans to open their eyes and realise that there are quite a few international tournaments going down this summer. Some have been promoted better than others, but one that we consider to be really intriguing is the Africa Cup of Nations.
The continent of Africa doesn’t receive all too much praise in the landscape of world football, and it really does feel like they’re on the verge of breaking out into the upper echelons of the game. Perhaps that is us being a little bit over-optimistic, but the signs are certainly all there.
As reported by BBC and The Guardian another set of games went down last night as we get closer and closer to discovering who the true Champions of Africa are. We’ve seen everything from one sided hammerings to upsets and everything in-between, and now that we’re at the quarter-final stage, it feels like it’s all about to get a lot more important.
We’re going to take a quick look at the four quarter-final encounters that have now been confirmed, with one nation being just three wins away from making history.
Senegal vs. Benin
Senegal may not have exactly blown Uganda out of the water in their Round of 16 clash, but they still feel like one of the favourites to take home the crown this summer. In Sadio Mane they’ve got one of the most natural goalscorers in world football, and when that happens to be the case, you’re always going to be in a strong position.
Benin have plenty of heart and will put it all on the line again here, but we just don’t think it’s going to be enough for them to get the job done.
Madagascar vs. Tunisia
Madagascar have been one of the surprise packages of the tournament, to the point where a lot of fans are considering them to be the dark horses. Alas, as intriguing as it would be to see them make it further than they already have done, Tunisia are just too strong.
It’s going to be tight and it may even go all the way through to extra time, but the experience factor is going to pay off for the Tunisians.
Nigeria vs. South Africa
South Africa have the kind of spirit that you need to thrive and succeed at this level of competition, but Nigeria have that one extra element that they’re missing: flair. Their gutsy win over Cameroon proved that to the rest of the nations in the tournament, and we really do believe that they are now the favourites to win the whole thing.
It’s going to be tight in the first half, but we believe the Nigerians are going to stretch their legs and finish the job in the second.
Ivory Coast vs. Algeria
Algeria are the only team in the quarter-finals that looked convincing in victory during the Round of 16, and that’s why we’re picking them to win this. Ivory Coast have impact players but if they can’t force their way through, then it’s all going to be for nothing.
It’ll be a fun game, but there’s only one outcome in our mind: Algeria in the semis.