The round of 16 at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations saw some thrilling and unexpected results, from Nigeria’s epic 3-2 win to knock defending champions Cameroon out, to Morocco’s shock elimination at the hands of Benin, and Madagascar continuing their fairy tale run.
Here are the best eight players from the round of 16 at the 2019 AFCON.
Odion Ighalo – Nigeria
With two goals and an assist in the 3-2 win over Cameroon, Odion Ighalo underlined his importance to Nigeria – they simply have no one else capable of leading the attack with as much confidence and composure. The Super Eagles striker will be looking to continue his rich form when his team take on old foes South Africa in the quarterfinals.
Thembinkosi Lorch – South Africa
Orlando Pirates attacker Thembinkosi Lorch was man of the match against Egypt not just for his beautifully-taken 85th-minute goal, but for a tireless and hard-running performance which constantly stretched Egypt’s defence and prevented them from being as compact and controlled as is usually the case under (now former) coach Javer Aguirre.
Riyad Mahrez – Algeria
After a 2018/19 season in which Riyad Mahrez didn’t quite hit the heights with Manchester City, he is reminding us all of his class with some exceptional showings for Algeria in the AFCON. The winger netted the Fennec Foxes’ second goal in their 3-0 win over Guinea, and both he and Algeria look in ominous form ahead of the quarterfinals.
Ibrahim Amada – Madagascar
Madagascar midfielder Ibrahim Amada set the tone for his team in their victory over DR Congo, opening the scoring in the game, which ultimately ended 2-2 after extra time, and putting away the first penalty in the shootout. The 29-year-old’s selfless display encapsulates the spirit of togetherness and optimism which has carried Barea so far in this AFCON.
Mbaye Niang – Senegal
While Sadio Mane is the undoubted star of Senegal’s team, Mbaye Niang represents the depth of quality in support of the Teranga Lions’ bigger names. The 24-year-old set up Mane for the only goal against Uganda and gave a fine showing in attack which always had the Cranes’ defence worried.
Owolabi Saturnin Allagbe – Benin
Benin’s goalkeeper Owolabi Saturnin Allagbe gave a fantastic showing ‘between the sticks’ in their last 16 shock triumph over Morocco, including the decisive save from Youssef En-Nesyri’s penalty in the shootout. Coming up against Senegal next, the Squirrels may need their ‘keeper to be in inspired form again.
Wilfried Zaha – Ivory Coast
Ivory Coast were outplayed for much of their last 16 clash against Mali, but they proved incisive in attack when their chance arrived, and Wilfried Zaha was the man who buried it. The Crystal Palace winger is looking more and more confident in an Elephants shirt and could take the remainder of the AFCON by storm.
Wahbi Khazri – Tunisia
Tunisia surprisingly left playmaker Wahbi Khazri on the bench for the start of their last 16 clash with Ghana, but his introduction midway through the second half inspired the equalising goal from Taha Yessine Khenissi. Khazri also slotted home his penalty in the shootout as the Carthage Eagles secured a quarterfinal berth.
For the latest news, fixtures and results from the 2019 AFCON, head to SuperSport’s tournament page.
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AFCON quarterfinal fixtures
All times CAT
Wednesday 10 July
18:00: Senegal v Benin – LIVE on SS4
21:00: Nigeria v South Africa – LIVE on SS4/SS10
Thursday 11 July
18:00: Ivory Coast v Algeria – LIVE on SS4
21:00: Madagascar v Tunisia – LIVE on SS4