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Preview: Senegal vs. Cape Verde

Round of 16 action continues on Tuesday at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations with pre-tournament favorites Senegal taking on Cape Verde in Bafoussam. Senegal have struggled to capture their best form in Cameroon due to Covid-19 infections and underperformance, but still were able to seal top spot in Group B. The Teranga Lions will face a Cape Verde side that have shown they can play with any team as seen in their 1-1 draw against Cameroon to clinch their spot in the knockout stages.

The Senegalese are undefeated so far in Cameroon but supporters and media are not pleased with only one goal and two scoreless draws from group stage play. Long time manager Aliou Cissé is coming under criticism for his tactics and team selection as the squad continues to struggle in the connection between its midfield and attack. A relief for Cissé arrived in the form of Watford forward Ismaïla Sarr, who is with the team after being evaluated for a knee injury but does not appear to be available for Tuesday’s match. To remedy the team’s finishing struggles, there is a good chance striker Famara Diedhiou will get more minutes after making his first appearance of the competition as a substitute against Malawi. Otherwise, Cissé has a full list of players to pick from with no Covid-19 infections.

Cape Verde continue to struggle with illness, having several absences due to Covid-19 throughout the group stage including that of manager Pedro Brito “Bubista”, who missed all three games. The head coach is back to be on the sidelines for the knockout stages but food poisoning has reportedly been an issue for 14 players and 4 more staff members. Bubista stated that he will not truly know which of his players will be available until kick off and that he has had to change his plans due to the illness. Therefore, it is difficult to know exactly who will be in the starting eleven but the team’s approach of looking to strike on the counter-attack should not change.

Key Matchup: Dylan Tavares (CPV) vs. Bouna Sarr (SEN)

Sarr has been brilliant when getting forward either as a right back or right midfielder since debuting for Senegal during 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying, and will look to contribute further on Tuesday. Swiss-born Cape Verde left back/wing back Dylan Tavares is likely to be the player charged with limiting Sarr while attempting to get forward as well, making their duel crucial in a matchup between teams who like to exploit the wings.

Prediction: Senegal 2-1 Cape Verde

Further Reading

Senegal vs Cape Verde – A western thriller (CAF Online)
Match Facts – Senegal v Cape Verde (CAF Online)
CAN 2021 : Le onze probable des Lions face au Cap-Vert (Wiwsport)

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