The seventh edition of the African Nations Championship (CHAN), ongoing in Algeria, enters its knockout phase this Friday. It has been an Intensed past 14 days of competition across four host venues, where eight teams distinguished themselves from a total of 17 Nations that finally answered present for the Continental event.
With the likes of DR Congo and Libya already eliminated from this year’s competition and Morocco not showing up, added to Tunisia failing to qualify, it means that the champions crown will go to a new winner.
High flying host making a big statement
Host Nation Algeria, will take on Ivory Coast in the first quarter-final game at the Nelson Mandela Stadium this Friday.
The Desert Foxes had a clean sweep of group A, where they recorded three wins in three, and kept as many clean sheets. It may be surprising but true, that this is just the second time Algeria is participating at the CHAN, after finishing fourth in the 2011 edition in Sudan.
“We are ready for the Côte d’Ivoire match,” Coach Madjid Bougherra stated in his pre_match press conference, re-echoing Algeria’s readiness to challenge for the trophy on home soil.
Friday’s game is the first ever meeting between Algeria and Ivory Coast at the CHAN. The Elephants, went against all odds, to qualify from a tough Group B, that had two times Winners DR Congo and ambitious Senegal and Uganda.
Ivory Coast has much experience at CHAN, as they’re in their fifth participation, haven finished third in the 2016 edition in Rwanda. Coach Souhalio Haidara insisted that Algeria are favorites, going into Friday’s game, but then the Elephants can be the underdogs who can make a difference.
“They don’t score a lot. It’s up to us to make sure they stay less effective in the penalty area and to score one goal more than them to ensure that victory for us”, said Haidara.
Kick-off time for the Algeria versus Ivory Coast game is at 1600 GMT, at the Nelson Mandela Stadium in Algiers.
Senegal versus Mauritania
The Teranga lions of Senegal have only returned to the African Nations Championship after missing out in the last four editions. After finishing fourth in the maiden edition of the competition in 2009, Senegal failed to go pass the Group Stage in 2011, and since then find it hard to reach the competitions final phase.
Pape Thiaw’s version of the local Teranga lions topped group B after picking up six points. They now face the Al-Murabitun of Mauritania, who surprising topped a three team group D that had last year’s finalist Mali, and 2011 finalist, Angola.
“We know that Mauritania is a very good team and well organised. Their football is progressing but we will do our best to make the people of our country proud,” Pape Thiaw said.
The Al-Murabitun are in their first quarter-final, after failing to go pass the group stage in their two previous participations in 2014 and 2018. Amir Abdou’s side has gone nine games unbeaten and the tactician is bent on writing his own piece of history with Mauritania.
“Qualifying for the quarter-final is a dream for us. We want to keep dreaming and continue to make it a happy dream. We have to be at our best to defeat Senegal,” Amir Abdou said in the build up to the game.
The game will be played at the 19 May 1956 stadium in Annaba. Kick-off time 1900 GMT.
A quarter_final Debut for the Mambas and Barea
Two countries from the Southern part of the continent will clash on Saturday, when Madagascar and Mozambique step on the green turf of the Mohamed-Hamlaoui stadium in Constantine.
Both countries are reaching the knockout phase for the very first time. As a matter of fact, it is Madagascar’s first ever appearance at the CHAN, and they took everyone by surprise, finishing top of Group C, with wins over Ghana and Sudan.
Coach Romuald Rakotondrabe of Madagascar was named best coach of the group phase, with star midfielder Solomampionana Razafindranaivo named best player of the group stage, following his scintillating displays against the Black Galaxies and Sudan, where he scored and assisted in both games.
Mozambique has been in this competition before (2014) where they were eliminated in the group stage, but this time around they did well to finish second in group A, above 2014 winner Libya, and Ethiopia.
No matter what happens on Saturday in Constantine, it is obvious that one of Madagascar or Mozambique will reach the semi_finals for the first time.
Saturday’s game at the Mohamed-Hamlaoui stadium will kick-off at 16h00 GMT.
Ghana Versus Niger
The Black Galaxies of Ghana and the Mena of Niger, will wrap up the quarter_final schedule on Saturday.
Two times finalist Ghana (2009 and 2014) are back after missing the last three tournaments, but could only managed to finish runners-up in Group C, behind Madagascar.
The Mena of Niger on their part, shocked Cameroon to finish top of Group E, to reach their second ever semi_final. The other time they reached this stage of the competition, was in 2011. That same year, the Mena defeated the Black Galaxies 1#0 thanks to a late goal from Tukur, as Ghana was eliminated in the group stage.
Saturday’s game will be the second ever meeting between Niger and Ghana at the CHAN. Coach Harouna Doula will be hoping to pull another stunner against a Ghanaian side that will be without their star man Daniel Afriyie Barnieh who was sent off in their last game against Sudan.
Coach Annor Walker’s Black Galaxies have had a full one week rest and will definitely be sharp and ready for Saturday.
Kick-off time 1900 GMT at the Miloud Hadefi stadium.
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