AFCON 2019 Knockout Stage: Quarter-Final Schedule and Bracket Predictions

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistJuly 8, 2019

Ivory Coast's forward Wilfried Zaha scores a goal during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) Round of 16 football match between Ivory Coast and Mali at the Suez Stadium in the north-eastern Egyptian city on July 8, 2019. (Photo by Khaled DESOUKI / AFP)        (Photo credit should read KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images)
KHALED DESOUKI/Getty Images

Wilfried Zaha put Ivory Coast into the quarter-finals of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations after scoring the goal that beat Mali on Monday. Zaha and Les Elephants will be joined in the last eight by Tunisia, who overcame Ghana 5-4 on penalties after a 1-1 deadlock after 120 minutes.

A game against Madagascar is Tunisia's reward for winning, while Ivory Coast face a tough tie against Algeria. Matches will be played on Wednesday and Thursday.

     

Schedule and Predictions

Wednesday

  • Senegal vs. Benin: 6 p.m. local time, 5 p.m. BST, 12 p.m. ET (2-0)
  • Nigeria vs. South Africa: 9 p.m. local time, 8 p.m. BST, 3 p.m. ET (2-1)

Thursday

  • Ivory Coast vs. Algeria: 6 p.m. local time, 5 p.m. BST, 12 p.m. ET (1-2)
  • Madagascar vs. Tunisia: 9 p.m. local time, 8 p.m. BST, 3 p.m. ET (0-1)

Live-Streaming Links: Eurosport PlayerfuboTV

       

Predicted Semi-Final Bracket

  • Algeria vs. Nigeria
  • Senegal vs. Tunisia

       

Algeria, Senegal, Nigeria and Tunisia Set to Be Last 4

There is no denying the talent in the Ivory Coast ranks, particularly Zaha, who showed why Arsenal are keen to sign him and why Crystal Palace value him at £80 million.

However, Zaha and Co. are likely to come unstuck against a rugged Algeria team not shy on quality of its own. Yacine Brahimi, another reported target for Arsenal, offers enough trickery from the flanks to equal Zaha, while Manchester City's Riyad Mahrez is a true wing wizard when on form.

Mahrez was on the scoresheet when the Desert Foxes beat Guinea 3-0 in the last round. His wand of a left foot and eye for a pass will be enough to outscore Ivory Coast, even though AC Milan powerhouse Franck Kessie may give the latter an advantage in midfield.

This should be the tie of the round.

Pace and power from wide areas also defines a terrific Senegal side that should end the tournament lifting the trophy. Liverpool's Sadio Mane and Ismaila Sarr are both coming off excellent seasons and have carried their club form into the tournament.

Mane scored the winner to see off Uganda in the last round during a game that owed as much to Senegal's defensive solidity as their attacking excellence. Things are strong at the back thanks to the formidable pairing of Napoli star Kalidou Koulibaly and Palace linchpin Cheikhou Kouyate.

With Everton enforcer Idrissa Gueye in front of them, Senegal are tough to break down and will be accomplished enough at both ends of the pitch to end Benin's run.

South Africa have also sprung a surprise or two, most notably by eliminating hosts Egypt in the last 16. Bafana Bafana will struggle to replicate those heroics against a Nigeria squad talented enough to still win despite some less-than-inspiring performances.

The Eagles had enough match-winners to beat holders Cameroon 3-2 in the first knockout round. Odion Ighalo netted two goals, while Arsenal playmaker Alex Iwobi came off the bench to thrive in central areas and net the winner.

With Leicester City destroyer Wilfred Ndidi anchoring midfield, the Eagles won't get caught cold by South Africa's direct, counter-attacking game the way the Pharaohs did.

Tunisia also received a nasty surprise after thinking they were going through in normal time thanks to Taha Yassine Khenissi's goal, but the Black Stars were offered a reprieve when Rami Bedoui bundled into his own net in stoppage time.

Farouk Ben Mustapha replaced Mouez Hassen in goal for the shootout, and the substitute saved from Caleb Ekuban to help the Eagles of Carthage advance.

With the pace of Wahbi Khazri up top, Tunisia possess enough firepower to edge past resilient Madagascar.

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