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Who goes to the quaterfinals? Angola, Algeria, Malawi or Mali – African Cup of Nations Group A showdown

January 18, 2010

It’s match day three at the African Cup of Nations and you can expect fireworks and more excitement, as it’s ‘do or die’ for some of the teams at the competition. It’s been an entertaining tournament so far with many goals and a beautiful display of football.

As they stand
For Group A, it can be any of the four teams going through to the quarterfinals, making it even more exciting and nerve-racking for their supporters. At the summit of the table is host Angola with 4 points. Malawi and Algeria are second and third respectively with both having 3 points. Malawi have a better goal difference of 1 while Algeria have -2. At the bottom of the table is Mali who have picked 1 point in their 2 matches.

Angola will only require a draw to progress and a win for them will assure them of qualifying as group leaders.

The story is different for Malawi and Algeria. A win for both of them will ensure that they go through to the quarterfinals. A draw will mean they have to wait for the results of the other game.

In the case of Mali, they must win to stand a qualifying chance.

Gilberto(L), Manucho(M) Flavio(R)

Angola – Algeria Preview
Both Angola and Algeria seem to have woken up from their nightmarish start to the competition. Angola beat Malawi 2-0 in their last match and Algeria snatched a narrow 1-0 win over Mali. We’re likely to see an attacking Angola side who would like to remain at their base in Luanda and avoid meeting tournament favorites Ivory Coast as early as possible. On the other hand the Algerians will also want to take their destiny into their own hands by grabbing all 3 points.

The Angolans have pace and usually play swift passing football. They have shown their ability to score but they are yet to convince me in defense. If the attacking trio of Flavio, Djalma and Manucho can get their act together then I can see Angola riding along. Algeria will also have to apply the breaks on wingers Gilberto and Mabina who’ve shown how deadly their crosses can be when they come forward.

We saw how tactical the Algerians can play in their last outing. They were solid in defense and goalkeeper Faouzi Chaouchi may have silenced his critics after the first match. Algeria will miss the service of midfeilder Yassine Bezzaz. Al-Ittihad’s Abdelmalek Ziaya and Blackpool’s Haneur Bouazza are possible options to take his place. In this game Algeria will look to Karim Ziani to create some inspiration from midfield. Striker Abdelkader Ghezza is yet to score in this competition and would like put his name on the goal chart.

Angola – Algeria Predictions
It’s going to be a crunch encounter. The Palancas Negras of Angola are slight favorites to win today but I will not rule out a draw.

Mali – Malawi Preview
With the depth of resources available to Mali, it still beats the minds of many as to how they keep struggling in the African Cup of Nations. They must win at all cost today. They go into this game without Real Madrid’s Mahamadou Diarra and Boulogne’s Bakary Soumare due to suspensions. Coach Stephen Keshi may want to start both Frédéric Kanouté and Seydou Keita to see if they can work some magic upfront. Their defense surely must be particularly rock solid today and keep concentration for the full 90 minutes.

Malawi will seek to create history as a win will assure them a place in the last eight for the first time ever. Striker Russel Mwafulirwa makes a return to field from injury and he could be very critical to the teams success. Mali will have to watch Elvis Kafoteka, midfielder Joseph Kamwendo and Moses Chavula who were very influential in their game against Algeria which the won 3-0.

Mali – Malawi Predictions
I predict a draw. It would be however interesting to see the minnows, Malawi win today.

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