We’re into the knockout phase of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, and there have already been some fireworks.
We were treated to two round-of-16 ties that saw Angola and Nigeria book their place in the quarter-finals. Let’s unpack all the action.
Angola 3-0 Namibia
Angola booked their place in the quarter-finals for only the third time in their history after thrashing Namibia 3-0 in a dramatic contest that saw both sides reduced to ten men.
Two goals and two red cards punctuated an action-packed opening 45 minutes that started in the worst possible way for Angola.
Goalkeeper Neblu was sent off for handling the ball outside the penalty area in a bid to thwart an attempted chip from Namibia forward Bethuel Muzeu.
Substitute goalkeeper Antonio Signori was tasked with keeping out the resulting freekick and did so in style.
Unfazed by the setback, it was Angola who broke the deadlock in the 38th minute with the in-form Gelson Dala turning home a nicely worked team move to score his third of the tournament.
Trailing 1-0, Namibia had plenty of work to do, but their task got even harder when they were reduced to ten men following a needless second yellow card offence from Lubeni Pombili Haukongo.
Haukongo’s reckless foul had dire consequences for Namibia as Angola doubled their lead from the resulting free kick, with Dala heading home a dangerous in-swinger from Fredy.
After the chaos in the first half, things cooled down in the opening phase of the second period, with Angola opting to protect their comfortable lead.
Their strategy aimed at catching Namibia on the counter-attack, and it worked a treat for their third goal as Mabululu curled home a stylish right-footed effort to wrap up the win for Angola shortly after the hour mark.
Namibia pressed on in search of a consolation, and Riaan Hanamub came close with a long-range effort before Gilberto hit the woodwork with a long-range curler on the other end of the pitch.
It was a memorable night for Angola after picking up their biggest-ever AFCON win to book a place in the quarter-final for the first time since 2010.
Nigeria 2-0 Cameroon
Atalanta star Ademola Lookman bagged a brace to fire Nigeria into the quarter-final as the Super Eagles extended their unbeaten streak against Cameroon to five games following a 2-0 victory.
A dramatic start to the contest saw Nigeria take the lead after nine minutes when Semi Ajayi poked home from close range only to be denied his second-ever international goal by a lengthy VAR review.
The early reprieve saw Cameroon tighten up their defence for a sustained period, and a first-half stalemate appeared increasingly likely as the clash edged towards half-time.
However, the Indomitable Lions were dealt a sucker punch after Victor Osimhen pounced on a mistimed touch from Oumar Gonzalez before slotting in Lookman, whose shot was fumbled into the net by Fabrice Ondoa as Andre Onana watched in horror from the bench.
The second half saw the Super Eagles pick up where they left off and Lookman nearly doubled his tally, whipping a 20-yard free kick just over the crossbar.
Having come from behind to avoid defeat in three of their last five games, you’d expect Cameroon to fight back, but Rigobert Song’s toothless side failed to muster a single shot on target.
Nigeria continued to create big chances, but despite their wastefulness, Cameroon barely looked like making them pay. Lookman finally killed the game in injury time as he latched on to Calvin Bassey’s low cross to volley home.
Jose Peseiro’s side are now unbeaten in four games and have kept three clean sheets. They’re building momentum nicely and will fancy their chances against Angola in the quarter-finals.
Group A winners Equatorial Guinea will take on Guinea for a place in the last eight, where they will face either the seven-time champions Egypt or two-time winners DR Congo at Stade Olympique Alassane Ouattara in Abidjan on February 2.
How to watch?
All AFCON games are broadcast live on Sky Sports in the United Kingdom. Numerous other live football streaming websites will allow you to watch the tournament in real time regardless of your location.
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