South Africa Bafana Bafana made history as they booked their place in the quarter-finals of a major tournament for the first time in over a decade. They last qualified for the knockout stages of the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) in 2002 in Mali. Bafana finished top of Group A with five points. Bafana face Mali on Saturday in their quarter-final at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.
Cape Verde Islands Cape Verde joined the hosts in the quarter-finals following their theatrical 2-1 win over Angola at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium. Head coach Lucio Antunes’s squad, who wasn’t expected to win, finished on the same five-point tally as South Africa, but was ranked second due to inferior goal difference. Cape Verde will face four-time AFCON winners Ghana on Saturday. The match will also be played in Durban. Former champions Morocco, who had three points, and Angola, who only had one point, were eliminated from the competition at the end of the group stage.
Ghana The Black Stars showed why they are tournament favourites and a dominant threat in the continental competition. Ghana won two and drew one of their three games. They topped the Group B log with seven points and a four-goal goal difference. Ghana has not won AFCON since 1982.
Mali Sitting second in the group with four points, The Eagles had to recuperate from conceding an early goal in their last game of the group to draw 1-1 against the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The DRC finished third in the group and joined Niger in exiting the competition.
Burkina Faso Burkina Faso’s last victory in AFCON was in 1988. Coached by Belgian Paul Put, Burkina Faso’s drought came to an end when they thrashed Ethiopia 4-0 thanks to the two-goal hero Alain Traore. Their last game, against Zambia, ended in a goalless draw to secure the top spot in Group C with five points. Burkina Faso will play against Togo on Sunday at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit.
Nigeria Nigeria will be looking to claim an unexpected win against the other tournament favourites Ivory Coast as the two teams meet at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg on Sunday. The Super Eagles were level with Burkina Faso on five points, but finished second on the log due to goal difference. Defending champions Zambia, as well as Ethiopia, who are fourth in the group with a point, will play no further part in the tournament. Zambia is the first defending champion to be eliminated at the first stage of the competition since Algeria in 1992.
Ivory Coast Ivory Coast is fancied as one of the title favourites. The Ivorians lost last year’s AFCON final against Zambia. In their last game against Algeria this year, Ivory Coast fought back to end the tie 2-2 in Rustenburg. Ivory Coast finished top of the group with seven points and has scored the most goals in the competition so far.
Togo Togo was helped into the quarter-finals by Emmanuel Adebayor. The lanky striker, who also scored against Algeria and Tunisia, sealed Togo’s advancement going into the quarter-finals. He scored the opener against Algeria, which they won 2-0, and went on to earn Togo a 1-1 draw against Tunisia. Neither Tunisia nor Algeria made it to the final eight of the tournament.