Home » AFCON 2023: Cape Verde, South Africa logs horns in last semi finals, preview, team news, possible starting XI

AFCON 2023: Cape Verde, South Africa logs horns in last semi finals, preview, team news, possible starting XI

by Lesley Ngwa
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Cape Verde and South Africa seek momentous wins when they face off in their Africa Cup of Nations quarter-final at Stade Charles Konan Banny de Yamoussoukro on Saturday February 3, 2024.

The Blue Sharks have never advanced beyond this stage, while their opponents seek a place in the semi-finals for the first time since 2000.

Match preview

Among the sides left in the competition, only Angola have scored more than Cape Verde heading into the quarter-finals, with Bubista’s men falling behind the Palancas Negras after scoring just one against Mauritania in the round of 16.

That match was decided by a late Ryan Mendes penalty, with the Blue Sharks converting the 88th-minute spot-kick after Babacar Niasse’s foul cost a battling Mauritania side in their first-ever knockout game.

Their success and Egypt’s elimination means Cape Verde are Group B’s only remaining representative still in the finals, and they could preserve that as they seek to make it past this stage for the first time.

The last eight was the Blue Sharks’ limit in 2013 where they were eliminated by Ghana and it was the round of 16 at AFCON 2021 where they were beaten by eventual champions Senegal, making a meeting with South Africa comparatively more favourable than previous years.

As it is, Bubista’s men are flying high, motivating them against any opponent as they aim to continue their undefeated AFCON 2023 run.

However, Bafana Bafana are still in equally high spirits after a stunning 2-0 victory over Cup of Nations favourites Morocco, with Evidence Makgopa putting the 1996 champions 1-0 ahead before Teboho Mokoena’s late free-kick made the result safe against short-handed opposition.

Hugo Broos’s team had to ride their luck before that second after conceding a late penalty, only for Achraf Hakimi to fail to hit the target, but they will argue such fortunate breaks are imperative for a non-favourite to succeed at the continental showpiece.

Be that as it may, Bafana Bafana have more experience than their opponents of this stage, even if eagle-eyed observers should point to their inability to advance to the last four since the start of the millennium.

That came four years after claiming the campaign on home soil, but the South Africans have come unstuck since — exiting at the quarter-finals in the 16-team competition in 2002, 2013 (as hosts) and in 2019 after the expansion to 24 nations.

With a game against Nigeria or Angola potentially coming in the semis, Broos’s side need no external motivation to secure a semi-final spot.

Team News

Mendes became the first Cape Verdean to score more than once at the Cup of Nations, proving that the Blue Sharks have hitherto not relied on one player.

Having welcomed back Bebe against Mauritania following a niggle, Bubista is expected to retain the same side that eliminated the Lions of Chinguetti in the first knockout round.

Broos is not expected to alter the backline that has kept three consecutive clean sheets against Namibia, Tunisia and Morocco, with captain Ronwen Williams keeping his place between the sticks.

Besides Percy Tau, Themba Zwane (brace against Namibia) and Makgopa have demonstrated their match-winning expertise, adding to Bafana Bafana’s growing confidence.

Cape Verde possible starting line-up

Vozinha; Moreira, Costa, Lopes, Paulo; Monteiro, Pina, Duarte; Mendes, Bebe, Cabral

South Africa possible starting line-up

Williams; Mudau, Kekana, Mvala, Modiba; Mokoena, Sithole; Morena, Zwane, Tau; Makgopa

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