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AFCON 2021: 5 things we learnt from the Round of 16 as Egypt, Equatorial Guinea qualify

January 27th 2022, 12:53:28 pm

Senegal will face Equatorial Guinea in the quarter-finals, Egypt to meet Morocco

Egypt's heroes Mo Gabaski and Mo Salah.

The last set of the round of 16 games at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) saw tournament favourites Senegal, Morocco, Egypt and minnows Equatorial Guinea all secure their places in the last eight of the competition.

With attention now set to shift to the quarterfinals, what lessons did Tuesday and Wednesday's round of 16 clashes leave us with?

In either half of their encounter, two red cards meant underdogs Cape Verde were forced to struggle for most of their game against Senegal.

AFP/AFP
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Having conceded an early red card, the Blue Sharks held their guard against the Teranga Lions, who failed to show any spark of brilliance in the first 45 minutes.

But after the second red card - a more controversial one - things became more disastrous for them as Sadio Mane not only converted the resultant penalty but Senegal capitalised on the numerical advantage to seal the win as when Ahmadou Bamba Dieng netted the winner.

An impressive Morocco comeback over Malawi in their round of 16 clash meant the Atlas Lions will steal what was turning out to be a night for Gabadinho Mhango and his Malawian teammates.

The Flames not only stunned Vahid Halilhodzic’s men with a spectacular early goal but also defended it as soldiers at the war front would defend their lines.

However, Malawi's valiant fight will be sent down the drain by a Youssef En-Nesyri header and a genius of a freekick by Achraf Hakimi later on.

While they showed on the night that they did deserve to be in the quarterfinals, the Atlas Lions of Morocco were just too good for the Flames.

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A lottery of penalties saw Egypt emerge victorious over a stronger Ivory Coast side in their round of 16 encounter. For a game many thought Ivory Coast would find it easy past the record winners of the AFCON, Egypt held it tight at the back to force the game into extra time, and penalties.

They also matched Ivory Coast - who were regarded more as favourites to win - in passes, possession and dribbles completed, and set pieces. Arguably their best game since the group stage.

AFP/AFP

While Mali will summarize their exit from the AFCON as just, a defeat on penalties to Equatorial Guinea, they will rue that the defeat came because they failed to take their chances.

The Malians who had been culprits of wasted chances in their group games brought the attitude to their round of 16 encounter with Equatorial Guinea. Unfortunately for them, a defeat in the penalty shootouts will be a worthy reward for having just one of 14 attempted shots, on target.

With Nigeria - who had a better group stage performance than Morocco - out of the competition, the Atlas Lions now look like a team who could go all the way.

While their impressive comeback over Malawi showed the fighting spirit needed of a champion-to-be, their goals showed that had something extra to go all the way. Class.

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