Unexpected losses from winning teams during the group stage of AFCON 2023 has provided fans with thrilling moments, devastating upsets, and standout performances.

After completing the group stage on Wed. Jan. 24., the top two teams from each group including four third-placed teams have qualified for the top-16 knockout rounds. Only eight teams will remain after these sudden-death matches.

First team through

Cape Verde became the first team of AFCON 2023 to advance to the 16-team round. The Blue Sharks had an impressive 3-0 win over Mozambique to go top of Group B. This victory gives Cape Verde six points after two matches leaving Egypt in second with four, and both Mozambique and Ghana with a single point each.

The ability to control possession, execute swift counter-attacks, and capitalize on scoring opportunities has set Cape Verde apart as a force to be reckoned with. The synergy among the Blue Sharks and the tactical brilliance of their coaching staff have propelled them to the next stage with an air of confidence and determination.

The knockout round begins on Jan. 29 with Cape Verde playing against third-place finisher from Group D, Mauritania at 12pm EST/5pm GMT.

Knockout round

Eight teams were eliminated, including Ghana who has not made it out of the group stage in their last three tournaments. Their hopes to finish as one of the four best third-place finishers was dashed by Cameroon’s win.  Host, Côte d’Ivoire, qualified for the knockout despite losing two matches to Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea. They have one more chance against the AFCON defending champions, Senegal, on Jan. 29 at 1pm EST/6pm GMT.

Mauritania, who failed to win their first eight games, made history winning against two-time champion Algeria and qualifying for the first time in their three AFCON appearances.

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What to look out for

According to CAFOnline, the fixtures to watch include:

  • Nigeria v. Cameroon
  • Cape Verde v. Mauritania
  • Equatorial Guinea v. Guinea
  • Angola v. Namibia
  • Mali v. Burkino Faso
  • Egypt v. Democratic of Republic
  • Senegal v. Côte d’Ivoire
  • Morocco v. South Africa

The knockout stage of AFCON 2023 promises to be a spectacle filled with excitement, passion, and unforgettable moments that will etch themselves into the records of football history.