Before Senegal – Ivory Coast, the first match of the round of 16 of AFCON 2023 this Monday will pit Cape Verde against Mauritania. A face-to-face between two teams considered as outsiders but who don’t give up.
Few people bet on Cape Verde, which the AFCON draw placed in group B, also made up of Ghana, Mozambique and Egypt. But the Blue Sharks surprised everyone by beating the top two in their group.
After beating Ghana (2-1), Cape Verde then corrected Mozambique (3-0) and obtained their qualification. They finally draw with Egypt (2-2) to finish first in group B with 7 points, far ahead of the Pharaohs who only obtained 3 points and the Ghanaians and Mozambicans who were eliminated with 2 points each. Proof that this country did not come to the competition to joke.
Indeed, the qualification of Cape Verde for the eighth is not necessarily a surprise for observers of African football as in 2013, this country reached the quarter-finals. Ditto during the AFCON 2021 in Cameroon where we saw them in the round of 16, stage where they lost against Senegal, future champion. On paper, the Blue Sharks will have the round of 16 this Monday within their reach. Against Mauritania, they will want to make their status known and this should not pose a problem given what they demonstrated in the group stage.
But be careful, the Mourabitounes will not let this happen, and that’s for sure. Surprise of these round of 16, Mauritania, although hardly beaten by Burkina Faso (1-0) and Angola (3-2), achieved the feat of eliminating Algeria by beating them (1- 0) and take the three points which allowed it to obtain its ticket for the next round. After this first victory in three participations in the African Cup of Nations, the country intends to go further.
“The objective is to remain humble and ensure that we go as far as possible, pass this knockout phase, make history and bring joy to the Mauritanian people,” said Amir Abdou, the Mourabitounes coach.
But getting there will not depend on a victory against Cape Verde, so far undefeated. And the task will be difficult, but not impossible for Amir Abdou’s men who demonstrated against Algeria that they are capable of facing adversity.
Cape Verde vs Mauritania, it’s from 5 p.m. at Félicia.