After a lively group stage that was filled with shocks, the stage is set for the Round of 16 at the Africa Cup of Nations, with two matches taking place over each of the next four days. Here’s a look at what’s ahead for the talents of Ligue 1.
Angola have just one current Ligue 1 player, Clermont’s Jérémie Bela, but have been one of the surprise packages of the tournament, topping a group which includes Burkina Faso and one of the pre-tournament favorites in Algeria. Namibia don’t have any France-based players, but remain dangerous, as evidenced by their shock win over Tunisia in the group stage.
Nigeria vs. Cameroon
The headline tie of the round, these two sides are two of the biggest names in African football, and have plenty of familiar faces to fans of Ligue 1. Nantes winger Moses Simon is the Super Eagles’ captain, while Nice striker Terem Moffi is also an option, as is former Lille striker Victor Osimhen. Cameroon needed a late goal from Rennes’ Christopher Wooh to advance with a win over Guinea, and the defender is joined by no less than eight players based in France as Rigobert Song hopes to steer his side in to the quarterfinals.
Equatorial Guinea vs. Guinea
Another surprise, Equatorial Guinea have no French representation, but look a tough ask for Guinea after topping a group that included Nigeria and hosts Côte d’Ivoire. Guinea, meanwhile, while hope to progress by relying on the likes of Le Havre striker Mohamed Bayo and Montpellier’s veteran fullback Issiaga Sylla.
Egypt vs. DR Congo
Led by FC Nantes striker Mostafa Mohamed, The Pharaohs were unbeaten in the group stage, but also struggled defensively, conceding six times. Against a DR Congo side led by defending Foé winner Chancel Mbemba and Mohamed’s Nantes teammate Samuel Moutoussamy, they’ll have their hands full in what looks to be another thrilling match.
Cape Verde vs. Mauritania
Cape Verde’s veteran side features just one current Ligue 1 player —Toulouse defender Logan Costa - but familiar faces like Ryan Mendes and Steven Moreira helped them to top Group B ahead of Egypt and Ghana. Their reward in this round will be an unfancied Mauritania side that includes a handful of players from France’s lower leagues, but managed to stun Algeria on Tuesday to reach the knockout rounds.
Senegal vs. Côte d’Ivoire
If Nigeria vs. Cameroon is marked as the tie of the round, this match isn’t far behind. Senegal are the holders and have a surfeit of attacking talent including the Marseille duo of Iliman Ndiaye and Ismaïla Sarr as well as Monaco’s fullback duo Krépin Diatta and Ismail Jakobs. The hosts struggled in the group stage, finishing third, but with Les Éléphants boasting a raft of current and former Ligue 1 stars, including Seko Fofana, Jean-Michäel Seri and more, this match has excitement written all over it.
Mali vs. Burkina Faso
Brest’s Kamory Doumbia and Monaco midfielder Mohamed Camara are among the key players for Les Aigles, and after topping Group E they’ll have their hands full with a Burkina Faso side led by former Lyon winger Bertrand Traoré and featuring five France-based players.
Morocco vs. South Africa
South Africa have reached the knockout stages after a strong display to date, despite missing Strasbourg striker Lebo Mothiba through injury. Their reward for reaching this round is a matchup against a Morocco team led by in-form Achraf Hakimi — the Paris Saint-Germain right back has a goal and assist to date, helping the Atlas Lions to top Group F.