More Drama Expected As AFCON Quarter-Finals Begin

Nigeria’s Super Eagles during training in Egypt.

We have reached the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations following some exciting, dramatic and, in some cases, surprising last-16 ties in Egypt.

The hosts are gone – knocked out by South Africa – but the likes of Senegal, Algeria, the Ivory Coast and debutants Madagascar remain. With two games taking place, here is what to look out for on day 20…

Who’s playing?
Having beaten Uganda in the last 16, Senegal are in action in the first quarter-final tie, against Benin , who beat Morocco on penalties to go further than they have ever gone in the competition to date. That tie kicks off at 17:00 BST.

At 20:00, three-time winners and defeaters of Cameroon in the first knock-out round Nigeria take on South Africa , who surprisingly eliminated the hosts Egypt on Saturday.

The quarter-final draw
Senegal v Benin – 10 July, Cairo
Nigeria v South Africa – 10 July, Cairo
Madagascar v Tunisia – 11 July, Cairo
Ivory Coast v Algeria – 11 July, Suez

Players to watch
Senegal v Benin

Sadio Mane

National team: Senegal

Position: Forward

Club: Liverpool Age: 27

Senegal’s undoubted star is forward Sadio Mane, who recently said he would give up this season’s Champions League win with Liverpool if it meant Senegal could win their first Africa Cup of Nations.

One of four players to score three goals in this Afcon, despite missing the opening game through suspension, he has taken himself off penalty duties after missing kicks in successive games.

Nigeria v South Africa

Odion Ighalo

National team: Nigeria

Position: Forward

Club: Shanghai Greenland Shenhua Age: 30

With three goals in four games so far, striker Odion Ighalo is the man to watch for Nigeria.

The former Watford striker, who currently plays for Chinese club Shanghai Greenland Shenhua, enjoyed arguably his finest moment in a Super Eagles shirt on Saturday, scoring twice and setting up another goal in the 3-2 win over rivals Cameroon to reach the last eight.

What are the big stories of the day?

Senegal have never won the Africa Cup of Nations, but with Sadio Mane in their team anything is possible, especially with favourites and hosts Egypt already eliminated.

In their way are first-time quarter-finalists Benin, who have drawn all four games at the tournament, including their last-16 penalty shootout win over Morocco.

“People see Benin as a surprise package, no. We have been observing them since the group stage. They have a compact team and play very well,” Senegal’s Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly told

South Africa are unlikely to have won over many fans in Egypt after their victory over the hosts in the last 16 – a result that saw coach Javier Aguirre swiftly sacked by the seven-times winners. However, it does leave many wondering how far the 1996 champions can go in the tournament, after they stumbled into the knockout rounds courtesy of a group stage that saw them score just once and claim one win.

The quarter-finals sees them face a familiar foe in Nigeria, who they met in qualification for the tournament, with South Africa claiming a 2-0 win in Uyo before a 1-1 draw in Johannesburg.

Nigeria, who came through Group B in Egypt in second place, having won two of their three games, also won a semi-final tie between the two at the 2000 Afcon – the last time South Africa made it beyond the last eight.


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