The dust has settled on the group stage of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, leaving us with 16 teams ready to battle for supremacy in Cote d’Ivoire.
As the tournament’s Round of 16 unfolds, four days of intense action will determine which teams advance to the coveted quarterfinals.
Here’s a breakdown of the last-16 matchups that promise to deliver football thrills and drama.
Game 1: Angola vs. Namibia
Angola, who finished top of a group where Algeria were in bottom place, now face a Namibian side, making it past the group stage for the first time.
The Palancas Negras will seek to match their AFCON quarterfinal record by triumphing over Namibia’s Brave Warriors. A clash of determination and history awaits on the pitch.
Game 2: Nigeria vs. Cameroon
Two giants of African football, Nigeria and Cameroon, collide in a clash of eight AFCON titles.
With a storied history of encounters, the Indomitable Lions hold the upper hand in beating Nigeria to the title at three different AFCON finals.
However, Nigeria remain unbeaten against the Indomitable Lions in stages other than the final and will look to their Round of 16 victory at the 2019 edition for new inspiration.
A battle of champions awaits, with both sides eyeing a spot in the quarterfinals.
Game 3: Equatorial Guinea vs. Guinea
Equatorial Guinea, the dark horse of the tournament, face Guinea, a team with a consistent quarterfinal track record.
The Nzalang Nacional are the best-attacking team at this AFCON with nine goals in only three games.
The attacking prowess of the Equatoguineans now meets Guinea’s solid tournament history in what promises to be a thrilling encounter, setting the stage for a high-stakes battle.
Game 4: Egypt vs. DR Congo
Despite Egypt’s struggles in the group stage, the Pharaohs, seven-time AFCON champions, remain favourites against DR Congo.
With Mo Salah absent, Egypt will aim to navigate a tricky tie against a two-time AFCON-winning DR Congo side. Expect an unpredictable clash with Egypt’s storied legacy on the line.
Game 5: Cape Verde vs. Mauritania
Cape Verde’s impressive performance in the group stage is why Ghana suffered an embarrassing early elimination.
The reward for Cape Verde’s brilliance is a winnable clash against Mauritania.
Cape Verde’s target will be to match their 2013 quarterfinal run, while Mauritania, buoyed by a historic win over Algeria, will seek to continue their fairy-tale journey.
A battle between ambition and underdog spirit awaits.
Game 6: Senegal vs. Cote d’Ivoire
Defending champions Senegal, the only team with a perfect group stage record, face hosts Cote d’Ivoire.
Despite the hosts’ below-par performance, they will aim to shock the holders and advance.
Senegal, now tournament favourites, must navigate a potential stumbling block against a determined Ivorian side backed by a football-mad public.
Game 7: Mali vs. Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso, coming off a loss in their final group match, meet Group E winners Mali.
Mali will arrive at this clash eyeing redemption after exiting the last two AFCONs at the Round of 16.
Burkina Faso, with a bronze medal in 2017, will undoubtedly pose a formidable challenge. An evenly matched encounter promises excitement and uncertainty.
Game 8: Morocco vs. South Africa
In a clash of AFCON underachievers, 2022 World Cup semifinalists Morocco face 1996 championship winners South Africa.
Morocco, yet to secure an AFCON trophy since 1976, look to rewrite history.
The Atlas Lions, boasting firepower, are favourites against a South African side struggling to claim a second AFCON triumph in nearly three decades.
- Angola vs Namibia
- Nigeria vs Cameroon
- Equatorial Guinea vs Guinea
- Egypt vs Congo DR
- Cape Verde vs Mauritania
- Senegal vs Cote d’Ivoire
- Mali vs Burkina Faso
- Morocco vs South Africa
The last 16 fixtures will begin on Saturday, January 27, and end on Tuesday, January 30.