Top three underdogs to watch out for in AFCON 2023 Round of 16

The Africa Cup of Nations is a gift that keeps on giving as we are guaranteed an underdog story or a series of shock results during the competition. For every Senegal (the only side with a 100% record so far) and Morocco who are favourites to reach the final, there is a minnow who is introducing themselves to the continental stage. 

At AFCON 2023, Equatorial Guinea, Angola and Cape Verde have all impressed the most by topping their respective groups having gone unbeaten in their three matches. 

Cape Verde

The Blue Sharks enjoyed a stunning triumph over Ghana on Matchday 1 as Garry Rodriguez scored a late winner to spark delirious scenes. The second game was even better as they secured an impressive 3-0 victory over Mozambique which was started by Bebe’s stunning free-kick. 

Cape Verde survived another late show to draw against Egypt as they finished as the only team to have won in Group B. Bubista’s side have now reached their second consecutive AFCON Round of 16 and they have earned the recognition of a team to watch and fear in the ongoing tournament.

The Creoles face Mauritania in the Round of 16 with good chances of continuing their underdog story. 

Angola

Angola are one of the unbeaten teams at AFCON 2023 after finishing top of a group containing Algeria, Burkina Faso and Mauritania. The Palancas Negras went behind in their opening game against the 2019 champions but responded through Mabululu’s second-half penalty to draw 1-1.

There was a thrilling 3-2 victory over Mauritania in the second match to put them in the driving seat in Group D. Then Angola advanced from the group stage for the first time since hosting the tournament in 2010 as Mabululu and Zine netted in a 2-0 win against Burkina Faso.

Pedro Gonçalves’ side have now equalled their record tally of six goals in a group-stage campaign as they take on neighbours Namibia in the last 16. Both sides will be looking to win a knockout game for the first time ever.

Equatorial Guinea

Los Elefantes are only at their fourth AFCON tournament but they have created long-lasting memories at each one, yet they seem to be the best they’ve ever been in this edition.

The Nzalang Nacional drew 1-1 with Nigeria in the opening game but put on a show against Guinea-Bissau thanks to a hat-trick from Emilio Nsue who led them to a 4-2 win.

Nsue became the first player to score a treble in the competition since Soufiane Alloudi in 2008 and he extended his tally with two goals on Matchday 3. The Equatorial Guinea captain was influential as they thrashed hosts Ivory Coast 4-0 to seal the top spot in Group A emphatically. 

The president of the country subsequently promised the players and coaching staff one million Euros as a bonus for the victory. Meanwhile, the team also reached the quarterfinals of AFCON 2021 and they will be looking to better that run this term. 

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