Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah have helped Liverpool win England and Europe. And now they both want to win the Africa Cup of Nations. On Sunday in Cameroon, both sharpshooters will be in action in the quarter-finals.
With Mane-inspired Senegal facing surprise packers Equatorial Guinea and Salah and his Egypt teammates facing Morocco. Salah speaks of the “desperation of the Egyptian people for another trophy” after the country’s last victory in 2010. Mane says he would “change all the medals he has won for a Cup of Nations gold gong,”. Whereas Mane says he would “swap all the medals he has won for a Cup of Nations gold gong.”
Senegal and Egypt will meet in the final of the showpiece African athletic event on February 6.
Tunisia, Cameroon, Egypt, and Senegal are favourites in the quarter-finals. But shocks are practically unavoidable in a tournament where the form book has been consistently mocked.
Tunisia vs. Burkina Faso
Last weekend, struggling Tunisia stunned unbeaten Nigeria by taking the lead through veteran Youssef Msakni. And holding on for a 1-0 last-16 victory.
The Carthage Eagles should be in better shape on Saturday. As head coach Mondher Kebaier , captain and striker Wahbi Khazri, have all recovered from coronavirus.
Tunisia has been surprising, losing twice in Cameroon as the only quarter-finalists. While Burkina Faso has been equally difficult to assess, winning once, drawing twice, and losing once.
The Stallions have won both of their last-eight meetings. And hopes of completing a hat-trick will rely primarily on captain and Aston Villa forward Bertrand Traore’s performance.
Gambia vs. Cameroon
Champion for the fifth time Cameroon has scored nine goals in four games. The most of any quarter-finalist, but the Indomitable Lions have also conceded in every encounter.
Tunisia, Cameroon, Egypt, and Senegal are the favourites in the quarter-finals. But shocks are nearly unavoidable in a tournament when the form book is stacked against them.
Six of the goals have come from Vincent Aboubakar, the tournament’s leading scorer. And the other three have come from fellow attacker Karl Toko Ekambi.
Gambia has been the surprise squad among the 24 qualifiers. Going undefeated and surrendering only one goal, a penalty, while being ranked 150th in the world.
Musa Barrow of the Italian Serie A club Bologna has become an overnight sensation in Cameroon. While Ablie Jallow is another Gambian Cameroon player who must be restrained.
Morocco vs. Egypt
With a 3-2 advantage the confrontation between north African titans stands out as the highlight of the four quarter-finals.
Egypt demonstrated its defensive prowess by holding a star-studded Ivory Coast attack scoreless in the round of 16.
Salah works relentlessly but has only scored once in Cameroon.
Forwards Youssef En-Nesyri and Sofiane Boufal of Morocco are possible match-winners. However the last-16 victims Malawi can vouch to Paris Saint-Germain full-back Achraf Hakimi’s free-kick prowess.
Senegal vs Equatorial Guinea
Only after the Cape Verdeans were cut to nine men due to two red cards did Senegal score. And they have failed to score in two of their four encounters.
Kalidou Koulibaly of Napoli and Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy of Chelsea has not conceded a goal. Making them the only quarter-finalists to keep four clean sheets.
The Equatoguineans will rely on superb central defenders Saul Coco and Esteban Obiang.
To restrict Mane after ending Algeria’s 35-match unbeaten streak and beating Mali in a shoot-out.