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Friday, February 23, 2024
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Today at Afcon 2023

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Quarter-final – Nigeria vs Angola 1700hrs

Nigeria now carry the pressure of being favourites to win the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations following the exit of many of the continents’ big guns before the quarter-final stage.

Ranked 42nd in the current Fifa rankings, Nigeria are the highest-ranked side left in the competition following the exit of Morocco (13th), reigning champions Senegal (20th), Tunisia (28th), Algeria (30th) and Egypt (33rd). In comparison, Angola are the lowest-ranked team (117th) left at Afcon 2023 and will be out to cause one of the biggest shocks in recent memory at the tournament.

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After a decent point to open Afcon 2023 against Algeria (1-1), Angola have now built up a three-game winning run at the tournament with victories over Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Namibia, but this tie with Nigeria is by far their biggest test yet.

Forward Gelson Dala has been in fine form, scoring four goals overall including a brace in the last-16 win over Namibia. Another goal for Dala in this match would ensure a piece of history, as he’d become the first Angolan to score as many as five goals at a single edition of the Africa Cup of Nations. Dala is also their most creative player, having created more than double the number of open-play chances of any other Angolan at the tournament (8), and he also has the highest expected assists total (0.47) in the squad.

They’ll have to keep out a Nigerian attack that is stacked with talent, though. No Nigerian striker is better known than Napoli’s Victor Osimhen, who’s both attempted the most shots (15) and has the highest non-penalty expected goals total (2.78) at this tournament. Those chances have produced just one goal so far, however, with Ademola Lookman the hero against Cameroon in the round of 16. The Atalanta forward scored both of their goals in the 2-0 win – his first-ever Afcon goals for Nigeria.

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This should be an interesting tie for the neutral, with both teams happy to concede possession and play on the counter-attack so far at Afcon 2023. Both Nigeria (45.0%) and Angola (44.0%) have averaged less possession than their opponents, while both feature in the top four teams for shots from counter-attacks – Angola are level with South Africa on five, with Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea following on four.

Head-to-head

Given that this is Nigeria’s 102nd match at an Afcon, it may come as a surprise to some that this will be the first time that they have met Angola at the tournament. Angola are relatively inexperienced compared to the Nigerians, with only 30 previous Afcon games under their belt, while this is just their third quarter-final appearance at the finals after defeats to Egypt in 2008 and Ghana in 2010.

Conversely, Nigeria are playing in a record 11th quarter-final tie at the Africa Cup of Nations – a tally level with Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire and Tunisia, who were unable to add to their totals in this tournament.

Angola’s last victory against Nigeria was a World Cup qualifier in June 2004, which ended 1-0 thanks to a goal from Angola’s all-time top-goal scorer Akwa.

Prediction

Nigeria are predicted to advance to the semi-finals with a win over Angola in this AFCON quarterfinal tie on Friday. Across 10,000 pre-match simulations by the Opta supercomputer, Nigeria won the tie inside 90 minutes 55.5% of the time with Angola winning under a quarter of them (22.6%). Extra time was needed in 21.9% of simulations, which also opens up the possibility of a penalty shootout.

Following the exit of pre-tournament Afcon favourites Senegal, Nigeria are now given the highest chance of winning the title, while Angola are outsiders among the final eight teams. Here are the current tournament projections for both Nigeria and Angola by the Opta supercomputer as things stand:

Squads

Angola: Neblú, Kadú, Gelson, António Signori, Eddie, Jonathan Buatu, Inácio Miguel, Tó Carneiro, Kialonda Gaspar, Kinito, Núrio Fortuna, Fredy, Bruno Paz, Manuel Keliano, Beni, Show, Estrela, Gelson Dala, Mabululu, Milson, Depú, Loide Augusto, Gilberto, Chico Banza, Jérémie Bela, Zine, Zito Luvumbo.

Coach: Pedro Gonçalves

Nigeria: Olorunleke Ojo, Stanley Nwabali, Francis Uzoho, Kenneth Omeruo, William Troost-Ekong, Semi Ajayi, Chidozie Awaziem, Calvin Bassey, Bruno Onyemaechi, Bright Osayi-Samuel, Ola Aina, Zaidu Sanusi, Alhassan Yusuf, Raphael Onyedika, Joe Aribo, Frank Onyeka, Moses Simon, Paul Onuachu, Ahmed Musa, Alex Iwobi, Victor Osimhen, Kelechi Iheanacho, Samuel Chukwueze, Terem Moffi, Ademola Lookman.

Coach: Jose Peseiro

Quarter-final; DR Congo vs Guinea 20hrs

Preview

Neither DR Congo nor Guinea were expected to be serious contenders at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, but one of these teams will be in the final four after this weekend. Ahead of a ball being kicked at AFCON 2023, the Opta supercomputer had both nations outside the top 10 most likely winners of the tournament, but with some big nations exiting already, this could be the year of the underdog.

Guinea made it to the knockout stage as the highest-ranked third-place team in the group stage, as they collected four points with a draw against Cameroon and a win over Gambia in Group C before losing 2-0 to reigning champions Senegal in their final group match. Being drawn against Equatorial Guinea in the round of 16 looked like a tough proposition, with their opponents winning Group A without a defeat. However, Mohamed Bayo scored the latest ever winning goal in an Afcon knockout match to see them off – his strike coming on 97 minutes and 38 seconds. Another goal in this match would see Bayo become the first Guinea player to score three goals at single edition since Pascal Feindouno scored four in 2006.

PHOTO 2024 02 01 12 24 10

That goal has sent them to the quarter-finals to face DR Congo, who also progressed to the last eight in dramatic circumstances. They prevailed following a penalty shootout against one of the favourites, Egypt after the sides couldn’t be separated in normal and extra time (1-1). There were 18 penalties taken in the shootout, with goalkeeper Lionel Mpasi scoring the winning penalty.

DR Congo qualified for the knockout stage without exciting too many – they won just three points in Group F as they qualified behind Morocco with three draws. In fact, DR Congo have drawn their last five AFCON games, their second-longest such run in the competition after drawing their six group stage games across 2013 and 2015 editions.

They may have only scored three goals at AFCON 2023 so far, but DR Congo have created good chances. In fact, their expected goals (xG) total of 6.6 is the second highest among the eight quarter-finalists, behind only Nigeria (7.5), but they have underperformed their xG by the most (3.6).

Guinea are one of the least productive attacking teams left in the tournament. They may have the same tally of goals as DR Congo (3), but they have had the fewest shots (36) and the lowest xG total (3.5). In defence, they have conceded three goals overall at Afcon 2023, but have amazingly allowed opponents just four shots on target – a competition low.

Head-to-head

This will be the fourth meeting between DR Congo and Guinea at the Africa Cup of Nations, but the first in the knockout rounds of the tournament. The previous three meetings all came in the group stage, with the last of these in the 2004 edition. Guinea prevailed 2-1 that day after coming from behind, in what was both sides’ opening match of the tournament.

The last competitive meeting between DR Congo and Guinea came in a November 2017 World Cup qualifier in Kinshasa. It was 1-1 until second-half added time, when two goals for DR Congo via Jonathan Bolingi and Neeskens Kebano won the game (3-1). It wasn’t enough for either side to progress to the 2018 World Cup, however.

Prediction

This match looks set to be a close contest, with the Opta supercomputer’s pre-match simulations seeing over a quarter (26.7%) of the 10,000 contests played out between DR Congo and Guinea going to extra time. DR Congo are the slight favourites having won 39.9% of the pre-match sims in normal time compared to Guinea’s 33.4%, but it feels there is little chance of a big quarter-final win for either nation.

Here are the current tournament projections for both DR Congo and Guinea by the Opta supercomputer as things stand:

Squads

DR Congo: Baggio Siadi, Lionel Mpasi, Dimitry Bertaud, Arthur Masuaku, Henock Inonga, Chancel Mbemba, Rocky Bushiri, Joris Kayembe, Dylan Batubinsika, Gédéon Kalulu, Gaël Kakuta, Brian Bayeye, Grady Diangana, Samuel Moutoussamy, Aaron Tshibola, Omenuke Mfulu, Charles Pickel, Yoane Wissa, Simon Banza, Meschack Elia, Fiston Mayele, Théo Bongonda, Silas Katompa Mvumpa, Cédric Bakambu.

Coach: Sébastien Desabre

Guinea: Ibrahim Koné, Aly Keita, Moussa Camara, Mohamed Ali Camara, Sekou Sylla, Julian Jeanvier, Saïdou Sow, Mouctar Diakhaby, Antoine Conté, Issiaga Sylla, Ibrahim Diakité, Seydouba Cissé, Amadou Diawara, Naby Keïta, Mory Konaté, Ilaix Moriba, Abdoulaye Touré, Aguibou Camara, Mohamed Bayo, José Kanté, Serhou Guirassy, Morgan Guilavogui, Facinet Conté, Karim Cissé, François Kamano.

Coach: Kaba Diawara

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