The Africa Cup of Nations knockout rounds are beginning to take shape. Two groups still have some business to take care of, however, starting with Group C on Tuesday. Both spots in the quarterfinals are still available to all four countries.
Defending tournament champion Zambia is among the four teams hoping to move on. The Copper Bullets used a miracle run to win the trophy last year, and are going to need another one starting on Tuesday in order to repeat.
Let's examine both matches on tap for Day 11 and predict which countries are going to earn placement in the final eight. That would put them three wins from a championship.
Burkina Faso vs. Zambia
Burkina Faso is coming off one of the tournament's most impressive performances, a 4-0 victory over Ethiopia to take the Group C lead. Overlooked when the Cup of Nations began, the Stallions are now inching toward the contender category.
The Burkina Faso attack, which is tied with the star-studded Ivory Coast with five goals in two matches, is led by striker Alain Traore. He's found the net five times, including two in the team's last match. The Stallions need him to remain in form.
They should expect an inspired performance from Zambia. The reigning champs can only guarantee advancement by earning all three points after two draws. The offense has struggled to generate scoring chances, but was saved by a late penalty against Nigeria.
Although a more aggressive Zambia should be able to generate more scoring chances, increased offense comes at the expense of players helping back in the defensive third. Due to that, Burkina Faso should be able to earn at least a draw.
Ethiopia vs. Nigeria
Without Emmanuel Emenike, who's been the only player able to generate offense for Nigeria, the Super Eagles would be in dire straits. Instead, they have a great chance to move on, but Emenike is going to need some help in the group finale.
They do have some talent in the midfield in the likes of Ogenyi Onazi and John Mikel Obi. Nigeria must find a way to control possession. The Ethiopia back line was exposed in the last match, so sustained pressure should lead to some good opportunities.
It won't be easy for Ethiopia to bounce back from that 4-0 defeat, especially in an event when low scores have been common. Key players like Saladin Said and Shimelis Bekele have to make more of an impact to turn things around and move on.
Nigeria is the deeper and more talented side. It's time for the Super Eagles to step up and prove that after letting points slip away in each of the first two matches. It won't be easy, but they should find a way to earn all three points and a spot in the next round.
Prediction: 1-0 Nigeria