By Boris Esono Nwenfor
The 6th edition of the Africa Nations Championship has reached its climax stage. Eight teams have qualified for the quarter-finals stage and will be battling for the four available spots at the semi-finals.
Host Cameroon, defending champions Morocco, and two times champions DR Congo have all made it to the quarter-finals with hopes of winning the competition. The quarter-finals have been scheduled to begin this Saturday, January 30 and Sunday, January 31.
Pan Africa Visions now looks at how the various teams qualified for the quarter-finals stage of the competition.
The team finished second in Group A with 5 points behind table-toppers Mali, who finished with 7 points. The intermediate Lions began the competition with a 1-0 win over Zimbabwe. Banga Solomon scored for the boys of Martin Mpile at the 72nd minute.
In their second encounter, the team came up against Mali. Banga Solomon was on hand again to get the opening goal for Cameroon. He scored at the 6th minute, his second goal of the competition. With Burkina Faso winning its second encounter, Cameroon needed just a draw to qualify, something which they succeeded in achieving though at a cost of finishing on the second spot.
The Eagles of Mali headed into group A as underdogs to Cameroon, but that didn’t dither them. They began strongly as they won Burkina Faso 1-0, with Bagayoko scoring the side’s only goal of the game. They then followed that win with a 1-1 draw against Cameroon.
With 4 points gotten in the opening two games, the team knew that a victory against Zimbabwe guarantees them a spot at the quarter-finals and possibly winning the group. A Diallo goal at the 11 minutes of play ensured that Mali beat Zimbabwe 1-0 and at the end finishing as winners of Group A.
The leopard of the DRC is the most successful nation in the competition. The team easily won Group B with 7 points. A 1-0 victory against neighbours Congo Brazzaville ensured that the team got off to a winning start. That victory against Congo was followed by a 1-1 draw against Libya. In their last game against Niger, Kabangu and Obenza were on target as DR Congo defeated Niger 2-1.
DR Congo has been hit with the Coronavirus as the coach and some players have fallen prey to the virus. But in the quarter-finals, the coach and some of the players have been cleared to be present for their quarter-final encounter.
The Red Devils of Congo Brazzaville finished as runners-up to DR Congo. The team ended with 4 points after 3 games. A 1-1 draw against Libya on matchday two and a 1-0 victory against Niger ensured that the team qualified for the quarter-finals.
The Atlas Lions of Morocco are defending champions. A Jabrane penalty at the 27th minute gave Morocco all 3 points on matchday one against Togo. They then followed that with a disappointing 0-0 draw against Rwanda. They picked up their groove on matchday three as they dispatched Uganda 5-2, the highest goal-scoring game so far. Morocco will be hoping that they can defend their title they won the last edition at home. No country has been able to win the competition for two consecutive times.
The Amavubi of Rwanda qualified for the quarter-finals as runners-up to Morocco in Group C. The team had a total of 5 points in their group. Rwanda began the tournament with a 0-0 draw against Uganda. That was followed by a 0-0 draw against defending champions Morocco. The team had to come from behind to win Togo 3-2, with goals from Niyonzima, Tuyisenge and Sugira.
The Syli Nationale finished as Group D winners, only on goal difference. A 3-0 spanking of Namibia ensured that Guinea got off to a winning start. That was followed by a 1-1 draw against Zambia. With Tanzania winning its second game, Guinea needed just a draw to qualify for the quarter-finals. The team had to come from behind to pick up their qualification ticket.
Barry who scored two goals in the first game against Namibia opened the scoring for Guinea at the 4th minute, through a penalty. Majogoro then equalized for Tanzania at the 23rd minute and then took the lead at the 69th minute. A Kantabadouno goal at the 82nd minute gave Guinea the much-needed equalizer, one that ensured they will be playing quarter-finals game this year.
The Chipolopolo of Zambia finished as runners-up in Group D. the team that was based in Buea began with a 2-0 victory against Tanzania on matchday one, with goals from Sikombe (64mins pen), and Chabula (81mins). They then had a draw against Guinea on matchday two before concluding their group game against Namibia. The game against Namibia ended 0-0, with the draw good for a quarter-final ticket.
Mali v Congo (30 January – 5 pm) at the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium, Yaounde
DR Congo v Cameroon (30 January – 8 pm) Japoma Stadium, Douala
Morocco v Zambia (31 January – 5 pm) Reunification Stadium, Douala
Guinea v Rwanda (31 January – 8 pm) Limbe Omnisport Stadium