The round of 16 draw has been completed after a series of shocking and dramatic turns of events in the group stages of the AFCON 2021 tournament. A few countries that advanced would be aiming for the quarterfinals for the first time in the competition.
The final 16 teams that would battle for the most coveted trophy in Africa, the African Cup of Nations (AFCON 2021) in Cameroon, were decided on Thursday, January 29, 2022, after the final fixtures of the group stages were played and the victors were decided. With the quarterfinals of AFCON 2021 in sight, every country would aim to make a mark at every stage of the competition.
We got shocking results, unexpected exits, and resilient underdogs. The tournament kicked off with a shaky and rather boring start, but eventually gained and picked up momentum as the fixtures progressed after the game between Nigeria and Egypt.
The round of 16 would see several fixtures take place, all of which are:
|Sun, Jan. 23 2022||Burkina Faso vs. Gabon|
|Sun, Jan. 23 2022||Nigeria vs. Tunisia|
|Mon, Jan. 24 2022||Guinea vs. Gambia|
|Mon, Jan. 24 2022||Cameroon vs. Comoros|
|Tues, Jan. 25 2022||Senegal vs. Cape Verde|
|Tues, Jan. 25 2022||Morocco vs. Malawi|
|Wed, Jan. 26 2022||Ivory Coast vs. Egypt|
|Wed, Jan. 26 2022||Mali vs. Equatorial Guinea|
AFCON Match by Match Analysis
At this point, history and record no longer matter because if they did, a few of the countries that progressed would have been knocked out of the competition. The AFCON 2021 has been thrown open with each country fighting to progress to the next stage.
Gabon vs Burkina Faso
Gabon, without key players like Abumeyang, would take on a determined Burkina Faso side. Gabon has been off to a shaky start since the competition commenced and is still searching for a fluid rhythm. Burkina Faso, on the other hand, has had a strong start, finishing second in Group A behind the host country, and will be looking to capitalize on their current form.
This is not Burkina Faso's first knockout stage, as they hope to replicate their incredible run to the tournament finals in 2013.
Nigeria vs. Tunisia
The Super Eagles of Nigeria, who began the tournament with a commendable performance in the group stages where they won all the games to stay top of group D, would face a Tunisia side who, against all odds, pushed and progressed to the round of 16. Both Tuinsia and Nigeria will be looking to continue their amazing run by making this one of the key fixtures in this knockout stage of the competition.
Guinea vs. Gambia
In their very first Nations Cup outing, Gambia will be aiming to cause an upset. Gambia recorded a shocking stat in the competition as they remained unbeaten in the group stages. This is a whole new ball game for Guinea, who have not been in the best form in the competition. Gambia will be looking to make their chances count when Guinea fails to convert theirs.
Cameroon vs. Comoros
The host country, Cameroon, will be looking to continue their unbeaten run in the tournament as they take on a Comoros side who are playing at the AFCON 2021 for the very first time.
Cameroon has to be on the alert as the Comoros are known to bring the unexpected to their game. The Comoros team should be regarded as a key obstacle they must move to overcome if they want to keep their title hopes alive.
Senegal vs Cape Verde
A low-performing Senegal will be looking to put out a better performance against Cape Verde in order to progress to the quarter finals. Cape Verde would be pushing to make a statement against a star-studded Senegalese side who have not impressed in the competition so far.
Morocco vs Malawi
Morocco would face difficult opposition in Malawi, who are currently riding high after holding Senegal to a draw to qualify for the round of 16. Morocco will be hoping to capitalize on the experience of their squad as well as their knowledge of the AFCON competition.
Ivory Coast vs Egypt
Arguably the biggest fixture in the round of 16 in the competition, Ivory Coast will be looking to key players like Haller and Pepe, as well as Aurier, to make a difference for them in the game against Mohammed Salah-led Egypt, who are currently growing into the competition with back-to-back wins in the group stages.
Mali vs. Equatorial Guinea
Mali would have to tread carefully into this game against Equatorial Guinea, who had stunned the current champions, Algeria, by beating them 4-1 in the group stages of the competition. Mali, however, finished top of their group and will be looking to capitalise on that in the round of 16 fixtures.
AFCON 2021 is finally taking shape. As we all know, it was off to a slow start, but the round of 16 fixtures looks promising, but we might get shocking qualifications in all. Nigeria vs. Tunisia would be one of the toughest matches of this round. The quality of Tunisia cannot be ignored, and the dramatic turn of events after losing their first game speaks volumes about the team. Even though the scoreline had not reflected this, the quality of the side had remained consistent.