AFCON quarterfinal preview: Can Mane, Senegal avoid upset?

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Three wins from AFCON glory, eight teams take their next steps in quarterfinal play at the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt on Wednesday and Thursday.

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Benin and Madagascar are barely inside the world’s Top 100 in Elo Ratings, but they are still alive. Does that end here?

Senegal v. Benin — Noon ET Wednesday

Benin made it to this round by tying every group stage match and then using penalty kicks to beat favored Morocco. Simply put: they are survivors. It’ll take more than that against Sadio Mane and Senegal, one the favorites to lift a trophy this summer.

Nigeria v. South Africa — 3 p.m. ET Wednesday

Finally out of their scoring doldrums, the Super Eagles outlasted Cameroon in a 3-2 thriller and now face a South Africa side which stunned Mohamed Salah and hosts Egypt. Bafana Bafana has only allowed two goals in four tournament matches, but Nigeria will put that to the test with Golden Boot co-leader Odion Ighalo.

Ivory Coast v. Algeria  — Noon ET Thursday

Wilfried Zaha may not know where he’ll be playing club ball next season, but it hasn’t stopped him from leading Les Elephants in scoring with two goals. Meeting Riyad Mahrez and Algeria will be a major challenge up north.

Madagascar v. Tunisia — 3 p.m. ET Thursday

Two sides who earned their quarterfinal berths by going perfect from the penalty spot against more celebrated competition (Madagascar defeated Democratic Republic of Congo, while Tunisia beat Ghana). Tunisia will be heavily favored to take the next step.