Super Eagles battle Angola for place in AFCON semifinal

It is about to go down as the battle for the four semifinal tickets begins today at the 2023 AFCON holding in Ivory Coast.

The quarter-finalists for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations are completely different from those who made it to the same stage two years ago.

This time around, we have Nigeria, South Africa, Ivory Coast, Guinea, Angola, Cape Verde, Mali and Congo DR.

The Super Eagles are the highest-ranked team left, following the elimination of Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Senegal and Algeria.

Jose Peseiro’s men will kick off the second phase of the knockout rounds with a rare fixture against Angola.

The most notable encounter was when the Palancas Negras held the Eagles to a 1-1 draw in Kano, to edge the head-to-head contest and qualify for the 2006 FIFA World Cup.

Nigeria has exacted revenge on Ivory Coast and Cameroon at this same tournament. And the three-time champions would be very keen to get one over Angola, probably dedicating a win to the late Sam Okwaraji.

Okwaraji, then 25, collapsed and died while playing in a World Cup qualifier at the National Stadium, Lagos, on August 12.

The match, which ended in a 1-0 win for Nigeria, was marred by the untimely death of the talented midfielder.

Hosts, Ivory Coast who managed to squeeze into the Round of 16, pulled off a typical AFCON miracle, to send defending champions Senegal packing via penalties.

They play Mali next. This one will truly test how much they have grown as a team through the tournament. And just how far home support can push them, as we get into the business end of things.

South Africa are probably one of the favourites now, after they dispatched World Cup semi-finalists Morocco expertly. Their last-eight fixture is against Cape Verde in what many on social media have dubbed ‘The Battle of the Tourist Destinations’.

But it will be a tricky affair, as Bafana Bafana will come up against a team that can shock them.

Cape Verde finished top of a group that had heavyweights Egypt and Ghana and are back in the quarter-finals for the second time ever. So they are no pushovers.

The last game will see Guinea face DR Congo. It is incredible to even think that one of these countries will make it into the semi-finals of the competition.

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