Africa Cup of Nations 2013: Preview and Predictions for Group A Matches on Day 5

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Africa Cup of Nations 2013: Preview and Predictions for Group A Matches on Day 5
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The first day of Group A play was uneventful. A pair of scoreless draws got the Africa Cup of Nations off to a lackluster start, but all four countries are now on level footing with two matches left to decide which two advance to the knockout stages.

Fans should expect play to open up on Day 5. It was clear that all four teams were trying to avoid a mistake in the opener that would put them in an early hole. Now it's time to ramp up the attacking efforts to gain an edge.

Let's take a look at both of the matches on tap in Group A on Wednesday and predict which countries will take control heading into the final day of group play.

South Africa vs. Angola

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South Africa let an opportunity slip away in their opener against Cape Verde. The host nation really should have won that match, which would have not only given Bafana Bafana the group lead, but also sparked even more fan interest.

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Instead, they couldn't feed off the crowd and struggled to generate scoring opportunities against the underdog nation. Interestingly, South Africa decided to bring Katlego Mphela off the bench after returning from injury rather than start him alongside Bernard Parker.

Given the importance of this match, it wouldn't be a surprise to see him back in the lineup after 20 minutes of solid play in the opener. Bafana Bafana will need him against an Angola side that kept Morocco under control with relative ease.

The tone for this match will be set in the first 15 minutes. South Africa must come out far more aggressive than it was in the first match and attempt to dictate the pace. If Mphela and Parker can do that, Bafana Bafana should escape with all three points.

Prediction: 2-1 South Africa

Morocco vs. Cape Verde Islands

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Cape Verde deserves a lot of credit for earning a draw against South Africa. It was a difficult way to start the tournament and the Blue Sharks stepped up in a major way. Finding a way to carry over that momentum becomes the biggest key.

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They do have some talented players in the likes of Ryan Mendes, Marco Soares and Babanco, but depth is an issue they will need to overcome. That's why Cape Verde didn't receive much attention heading into the marquee event.

As for Morocco, it's all about building chemistry. It has enough talent to advance to the knockout stages, but the players looked out of sorts in the opener. That's always a concern in mid-season tournaments with very little preparation time.

It puts the onus on players like Nordin Amrabat and Younes Belhanda to jump-start the attack. Even though their performance in the opener left a lot to be desired, they should have enough firepower to find the scoreboard on Wednesday to earn the win.

Prediction: 1-0 Morocco

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