Senegal and Nigeria both faced surprise quarterfinalists in Benin and South Africa, and both found out their opponents were no slouch, requiring slim one-goal victories to reach the semifinals of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.
Up first in thee day, Senegal topped Benin 1-0 on a 69th minute strike by Idrissa Gueye who burst straight down the heart of the Benin defense and took a feed from Sadio Mane before slotting home the winner. For much of the game, Benin’s defensive shape locked Senegal down, as the favorites held 63% possession but could only manage four shots on target to Benin’s three.
Mane was the most incisive Senegal attacker, and he saw two goals wiped off the board by VAR checks for offside. It looked that Benin actually may take a shock lead early in the second half as Senegal goalkeeper Alfred Gomis nearly put one clumsily into his own net, but the potential own-goal skittered wide and Gueye struck soon after. Benin defender Olivier Verdon, who just joined La Liga side Alaves this summer, was sent off late for a foul on Gueye to essentially seal the match.
Nigeria was also under threat of upset as they took on South Africa, but a late winner from Udinese defender William Troost-Ekong gave them a 2-1 victory and a spot in the semifinals. The 89th minute decider was bundled home by the 25-year-old after South Africa goalkeeper Ronwen Williams whiffed looking to punch a corner.
That proved vital as previously, Samuel Chukwueze’s first-half goal off his blocked first attempt cancelled out a 71st minute effort from Bongani Zungu. The South Africa equalizer survived a contentious VAR check that appeared to confirm a blatant offside, but the assist came off the back of Odion Ighalo so the goal stood.
With both winners into the semifinals, Senegal will draw the winner of Madagascar and Tunisia, while Ivory Coast and Algeria battle for a chance to meet Nigeria in the semis. Both those remaining quarterfinals take place tomorrow, with the semifinals set for July 14 in Cairo.
The first two quarterfinals take place at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations on Wednesday, as Senegal and Nigeria are heavily favored to win and reach the final four.
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Sadio Mane’s Senegal face Benin, who shocked Morocco in the Round of 16, while Nigeria take on South Africa who similarly shocked the world as they dumped hosts Egypt out of the competition. Mane has scored three goals so far and along with Nigeria’s Odion Ighalo, Algeria’s Adam Ounas and DR Congo’s Cedric Bakambu they lead the tournament in goals.
If Senegal prevail they will face the winner of Madagascar and Tunisia in Cairo on Sunday, while if Nigeria take care of business they will play either the Ivory Coast or Algeria in a stacked side of the bracket.
Below is the full schedule for the AFCON action on Wednesday, while you can follow all of the action live by clicking on the link above.
2019 Africa Cup of Nations schedule – Wednesday, July 10
Senegal v. Benin – 12 p.m. ET
Nigeria v. South Africa – 3 p.m. ET
Saturday is setting up to be a massive day at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, as three nations with a legitimate chance to win the entire tournament set sail in the knockout rounds.
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Cameroon and Nigeria, with eight African Cup between them (five and three, respectively), will face off in the day’s first game (12 p.m. ET), followed by host nation and seven-time champions (all-time leaders) Egypt versus South Africa (3 p.m. ET), one-time winners themselves.
Senegal and Benin were the first two nations through to the quarterfinals after their respective victories on Friday.
Below is the full schedule for the AFCON action on Saturday, while you can follow all of the action live by clicking on the link above.
2019 Africa Cup of Nations schedule – Saturday, July 6
Cameroon v. Nigeria — 12 p.m. ET
Egypt v. South Africa — 3 p.m. ET
The thrills were relatively scaled down at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations on Friday as just four goals dotted a three-match landscape in Egypt.
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Tunisia 1-1 Mali
The only match with a pair of goals saw them come 10 minutes apart, as Red Bull Salzburg midfielder Diadie Samassékou staked Mali to a 60th minute lead and former Sunderland playmaker Wahbi Khazri saw his free kick deflect into the Mali goal in the 70th.
The draw opens the door for both Mauritania and Angola, as well as a blockbuster final day in Group E.
South Africa 1-0 Namibia
Bongani Zungu’s 68th goal was well-earned, with Bafana Bafana outshooting Namibia to the tune of 17-6.
Morocco 1-0 Ivory Coast
Herve Renard has won AFCON twice and already has Morocco in the knockout rounds following a 2-0 start to the tournament. Leganes striker Youssef En-Nesyri scored the lone goal of the encounter.
The group stage of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations has reached an intriguing stage, as plenty of teams begin to punch their tickets in the Round of 16.
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With the 24-team format allowing the top four third-place teams to also advance, there is still so much to play for across these group games.
In Group D two giants collide as Morocco face the Ivory Coast with Aston Villa’s Jonathan Kodjia (who scored their winner against South Africa earlier this week) and Crystal Palace’s Wiflried Zaha the leading men for the Elephants, while Southampton’s Sofiane Boufal played well for the Atlas Lions in their win against Namibia. South Africa and Namibia then face off in Group D and both teams lost their opening games, so a win here would be huge for their hopes of getting out of the group.
Group E sees Tunisia and Mali collide, with the latter top of the group and Tunisia in desperate need of a win after drawing their opening group game against Angola. Southampton’s new signing Moussa Djenepo is one of Mali’s key players, and Tunisia will be wary of his dribbling ability on the break.
Below is the full schedule for the AFCON action on Friday, while you can follow all of the action live by clicking on the link above.
2019 Africa Cup of Nations schedule – Friday, June 28
Morocco v. Ivory Coast – 1 p.m. ET
South Africa v. Namibia – 4 p.m. ET
Tunisia v. Mali – 10:30 a.m. ET