Picture : Franck Kessié was the hero of the qualification of Ivory Coast with two penalties scored !

Resurrected hosts, Ivory Coast hurl out holders Senegal in round of 16.

The hosts, Ivory Coast who had qualified from their group as one of the tournament’s best four finish staged a tour de force to eliminate defending champions, Senegal. Under interim trainer Fae, the Ivorians stepped out to face the Senegalese side with utmost determination and resounding sense of mission. It paid off and fans nodded in approval as there is now an overwhelming feeling that the hosts could once more win the trophy as it happened in 1992 and 2015. 

Angola 3 0 Namibia

Namibia’s bravery was stalled when they locked horns with Angola. Things just did not work for the warriors as although the opponents took a red card through goalkeeper Neblu in the 17th minute, they couldn’t make capital of that. Rather, they too went a man down when Lubeni Haukongo was shown a red card in the 40th minute. Angola got three goals courtesy  of  Gelson Dala with a brace in the 38th  and 42nd minutes, and then Agostinho Mabululu in the 66th minute.  Gelson Dala was the mvp as Angola strolled into the quarterfinals anticipating their next opponents.

Cameroon 0 2 Nigeria

The perennial rivalry between Cameroon and Nigeria reared its head when the two took to the Félix Houphouet Boigny stadium for their round of 16 clash. A grudging Nigeria after they had been defeated 3-1 at the same venue 40 years earlier in the AFCON final game took their revenge. The hard fighting keeper Fabrice Ondoua caved in ultimately in the 36th and 90th  minutes after a brace by Ademola Lookman with assist from Osimhen and Bassey respectively. Naturally the day’s scorer made away with the MVP award.

Equatorial Guinea 0 1 Guinea.

The Nzalang Nationale of Equatorial Guinea took on the Sily Nationale of Guinea in a match preceded by outright favors for the former after their historic trouncing of Ivory Coast 4-0. But like every good thing that has an end, the hat trick hero Emilio Nsue of Equatorial Guinea got into the game on the wrong foot affording to miss a 69th minute penalty. Guinea, playing 10 after  Bikoro’s 55th minute red card and an early minute goal ruled out by VAR forged on to get the lone goal and match winner in the 98th minute courtesy of a Diakité assist for Bayo to head home. Ibrahim Diakité was MVP.

Egypt (1) 7 8 (1) RD Congo

The confrontation between Egypt and the DR Congo at San Pedro lived up to its billing. DR Congo opened scores in the 37th minute through Elia and Egypt equalized one minute into stoppage time of the first half through Mostafa Mohamed from the penalty spot to keep the deadlock alive and sending both sides to the penalty spot after 120 minutes.   Egypt had earlier been reduced to ten men following Hamdy Sharaf’s  97th minute red card. It took up to the second series of kicks for the Congolese to prevail 8-7.  Egyptians Mostafa Mohamed and M. Aboubakar lost their kicks where  Masua did same for DR Congo. Lionel Mpasi of  DR Congo was the Mvp.

Cabo Verde 1 0 Mauritania

Mauritania almost staged a repeat performance after their historic qualification for the round of 16 but it was only as far as they could go. Their fatal error came from a back pass by Willy Semedo putting Oilson Benchimol on the run to provoke a penalty.  Ryan Mendes shot straight to beat a diving and excellent Mauriatanian keeper for the lone goal on 88 minutes.  The Murabituns leave the competition leaving behind a great impression on fans. The Mvp award went to Jamiro Monteiro of Cabo Verde.

Senegal (1) 4 5 (1) Ivory Coast.

It was clearly the match of the round as it pitted the defending champions against the host country. And it will be the former, Senegal who, through Habib Diallo will capitalize on a Sadio Mane assist in the fourth minute. The Ivorians mounted their comeback meticulously and unrelentingly to find the net from the penalty spot in the 87th minute credited Franck Kessié.  Nicolas Pépé had been fouled when the fleet footed attacker surged to beat the diving keeper Mendy as confirmed by the VAR. With the parity in place after 120 minutes, the winner was determined from the penalty spot with Niakhite missing his kick for Senegal.  Koulibaly, Sarr, Dieng and Mané scored, and Pépé, Kouame, haller, Aurier, Kessié scored for the Ivory Coast. The Mvp was Jean Michel Seri of Ivory Coast.

Mali 2 1 Burkina Faso

Activity kicked off at the Amadou Gon Coulibaly stadium Khorogho on high gear with Mali raising the curtains three minutes into regulation through an own goal by Edmond Tapsoda. That alone was enough to put Burkina Faso on edge although Mali demonstrated better stranglehold on the match. They did find the keeper’s upright in an attempt to increase tally shortly afterwards before  Burkina be significant attempt on 38 minutes. Barely two minutes into resumption Mali increased tally to two after a solo run by Lassine Sinayoko. A VAR check on 55 minutes confirmed touch of the ball with the hand inside the box. Bertrand Traore had their lone goal from the spot which will be the cause for the 2-1 Mali victory and first quarterfinal appearance since 2013. Mali’s Lassine Sinayoko was Mvp.

South Africa 2 0 Morocco

In an epic battle at the Laurent Pokou stadium San Pedro, South Africa and Morocco gave ample proof as to why they feature amongst Africa’s best sides currently. It was tight and balanced at all levels closing on a 0-0 first half parity. And when Morocco found the net in the 33rd minute, it was ruled out for offside. That intrigued South Africa who corrected the error by scoring through Evidence Makdopa shortly afterwards. Hard fighting Morocco had the chance to draw level but Achraf Hakimi’s 84th minute penalty kick sailed wide. Morocco would later lose Sofyan Amrabat to a red card confirmed by VAR before the ensuing direct free kick would see the ball sail straight into the net for South Africa’s 2-0 victory. Teboho Mokoena took the Mvp award.

This Wednesday and Thursday are rest days ahead of the following quarterfinals: Friday, 2/2 at 6pm: Nigeria vs Angola; 9pm: DR Congo vs Guinea. Saturday, 3/2 at 6pm: Ivory Coast vs Mali; 9pm: South Africa vs Carbo Verde.