Its been an amazing two weeks of football on the African soil, with both the host and defending champions already out of the competition. Its the quarterfinal stages, and this year's showpiece has five teams who have tasted glory in the past, and a further three, who are looking to make a historic first.
Of the five ex-winners Nigeria has the highest number of trophies, Ivory Coast (two) and one apiece for Algeria, South Africa and Tunisia. While Benin, Madagascar and Benin are going for a first time glory. In terms of regions, West Africa has four teams, while North and South Africa has two teams each.
Favorites to Proceed
Senegal: Already qualified as at the time of this post, this side has been tipped to take home the trophy, though they are first time chasers, but that has been no blemish, as we've been treated to one of the beautiful game at the tornament, and when you have an in-form attacker on your side (Sadio Mane) then impossible is nothing.
Nigeria: Three time champions, Nigeria, should get to the semi finals, asides been the competition most consistent nation, and also having history in their favour, they also boost an array of talents, in terms of Musa, Ighalo, Iwobi and a certain Chukwueze, and also seeing 9ff defending champions in one of the exciting match of the tournament.
Algeria: The Ivorian team has been less convincing in all of their matches, needing a last group game to qualify, even with their last 16 match been a narrow 1-0 win against Mali, who had most of the possession. So my bets will be on in-form Algeria, they are the only side with a 100% record, having won all four matches. They also boost a certain Riyad Mahrez in their ranks.
Tunisia: For all its worth, I feel the fairy tale ride for the Madagascar team, ends here, even though they've not lost any of their last four matches, but they are up against a Tunisia side, who are no stranger to this stage of the competition. Hence are my favorities to proceed to the next stage.
With the next two days made for action, the last four teams would have emerged, with Senegal already in the semi finals, which of these other teams will be joining them, who will finally be going home with the trophy?