Two of AFCON’s surprise packages go head to head for a spot in the quarter-finals. Siphesihle Soni previews Cape Verde v Mauritania.

AFCON 2023
Match 41 – Cape Cerde v Mauritania
Monday 29 January | 19:00

A quarter-final spot will be up for grabs when Cape Verde – who shocked everyone by finishing top of Group B – square off against Mauritania who booked their spot in the knockout round as one of the four best third-place finishers after beating Algeria. 

To Win Match (90 mins)
Cape Verde 1/1 | Draw 16/10 | Mauritania 7/2

An impressive sequence of results saw the Blue Sharks top Group B ahead of Egypt, Ghana and Mozambique. Cape Verde opened their AFCON campaign with a clash against the Black Stars of Ghana. A game in which they showed they dispatched the four-times African champions 2-1.

In their second fixture, Bubista’s men showed that they mean business and are a team not to be taken lightly when they eased past Mozambique by demolishing them 3-0 cementing their spot at the helm of group B in the process and becoming the first team to qualify for the last 16. They’d Blue Sharks finished off their group stages campaign with a well-fought 2-2 draw against the 2010 AFCON winners Egypt with Bryan Teixeira netting a last-minute goal to level matters.

This is a side that plays with no fear, whether squaring off against giants of the African game or with some of the minnows. They’re a well-drilled unit who will look to make full use of their favourable round of 16 draw. 

Mauritania experienced an underwhelming start to their campaign suffering a 1-0 loss in their opening match. Their woes continued when they lost 3-2 to Angola in a match that they dominated enjoying 54% of the ball possession and a total of 383 passes compared to the 318 passes that their opponents had.

They managed to turn things around in the last game of the group when they shocked the world by beating the 2019 AFCON winners Algeria 1-0. Mohamed Yali’s 37th-minute strike was enough for The Almoravids to collect all three points saw them making history by going past the group stages for the first time.

The Mauritanian defence, led by their captain Mohamed Yali will have to keep a watchful on the striking force of Cape Verde made up of Bebe, Ryan Mendes and Gilson Tavares who have all found the back of the net in this tournament. 

Verdict: Cape Verde 1/1

Cape Verde are undoubtedly the stronger side in this clash, but this tournament has taught us that no team should be taken lightly based on their history. With Mauritania failing to keep a clean sheet in all their group-stage matches and Cape Verde’s fluid attack, I don’t see the Northwest Africans.