Two “surprise” teams clash in the 2023 African Cup of Nations round of 16 on Monday as Cape Verde faces Mauritania with both have exceeded expectations in Ivory Coast.
“Mauritania is a difficult opponent. This team showed cohesion and quality,” said Blue Sharks of Cape Verde coach Bubista. The island nation topped Group B with African giants Ghana and Egypt.
Bubista added, “Their victory against Algeria is well deserved. They have a solid defense. This is going to be a very tactical encounter and we will have to play our cards well and not falter in the last four.”
Mauritania earned its first-ever AFCON win to reach their first knockout spot. “Cape Verde is an attractive team. They score a lot of goals and concede too, which is a loophole we will try to use,” said Mauritania coach Amir Abdou.
The teams are confident ahead of their milestone match. “We are aware of the importance of these matches. For us, this is something unique,” said Cape Verde striker Tiago Correia.
“We are focused on the same goal, we just have victory in sight,” he added.
Mauritania defender Lamine Ba noted, “It’s true that we got off to a bad start, but now a new competition is starting.
“We know that the Mauritanian authorities have put several things in place so that our supporters are present during this match, and we are counting heavily on them,” he said.
Both nations recognise the rare opportunity they have earned. “I have a competitive group and I know we are capable of anything,” Abdou said.
Cape Verde and Mauritania pursue their AFCON dreams as they clash on Monday (today), 6pm (Nigerian time) at the Félix Houphouët Boigny stadium, Abidjan.