The reliable bookmaker 1xBet announces the two most important games at the Africa Cup of Nations. The battle for bronze will be held on February 10, and on February 11, we will see the grand final.
South Africa v DR Congo, match for 3rd place
South Africa and DR Congo have not been spoiled with medals lately. The South Africans won the AFCON in 1996, and their last big success was bronze at the 2000 tournament. DR Congo hasn’t been a champion since 1974, and they last won medals 9 years ago.
Bookmakers consider DR Congo the favorite, but it can be questioned. South Africa perfectly played the underdog role in the playoffs, and the Bafana Bafana have never lost to the Leopards in the AFCON.
Nigeria v Côte d’Ivoire
The finalists met in the group stage 2nd round. Then the Nigerians won 1-0 thanks to William Troost-Ekong’s precise penalty kick.
The Super Eagles played in that style the entire tournament – not too brightly, but pragmatically and disciplined. Due to excellent defensive organization and goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali’s reliability, they conceded only 2 goals in 6 matches. In addition, Nwabali became the hero of the penalty shootout in the semi-final against South Africa, saving 2 out of 4 shots.
Coach Jose Peseiro doesn’t fully exploit the team’s attacking potential – in 6 games, Nigeria had only 7 goals. At the same time, the squad scored against their opponents in every match.
Nigeria won’t have the AFCON top scorer. Still, it should be noted Ademola Lookman’s efficiency (3 goals), Victor Osimhen’s usefulness (1 goal, 2 earned penalties, and 1 assist), and the ability of captain Troost-Ekong to convert penalties in decisive moments (2 goals).
The Nigerians only once were close to failure. In the semi-final against South Africa when, after using the VAR system, Osimhen’s goal was canceled, and a penalty was awarded against the Super Eagles. After the return goal from the South Africans, Nigeria spent several minutes in a groggy state but remembered their champion ambitions, so in the end, they won.
Meanwhile, Côte d’Ivoire has become completely different compared to the 2nd round. The Elephants now have another coach (Emerse Fae took Jean-Louis Gasset’s place after the group stage), and half of the starting line-up has changed. For the Ivorians, the current tournament was divided into two parts – before and after the 86th minute in the 1/8 final match against Senegal.
The Ivory Coast team’s first version miraculously qualified for the playoffs with 3 points and a 2-5 goal difference, as well as couldn’t do anything against Senegal. The second version, born literally before our eyes, has become a standard of character and a squad worthy of the first champion title since 2015.
Côte d’Ivoire bounced back in the match against Senegal and won a penalty shootout; then, with ten players, they achieved a strong-willed victory over Mali with goals in the 90th and 120th minutes. The tournament hosts seemed to have caught a strong tailwind in their sails and, in the semi-finals – what a miracle! – the Elephants beat DR Congo without unnecessary heroism.
It’s important that the Ivory Coast squad develops a team play. After all, it is difficult to surpass the well-prepared Nigerians solely on courage and stands’ support. Moreover, the historical score of their personal meetings in the AFCON playoffs is in favor of the Super Eagles – 2-1.
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