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AFCON 2023 Day 12 Preview: Cameroon and Algeria aim for redemption, qualification for Round of 16

As we saw on Monday, anything can happen on on the final day in each group and some dramatic results from Group A and Group B open the door for any team out of Group C and Group D to qualify on the last day. In both C and D there are matches between the first place and second place teams while the third and fourth place teams clash, leaving any possibility on the table. Read more on all four matches from Tuesday below:

Group C: The Gambia v Cameroon 17:00 GMT

Group C: Guinea v Senegal 17:00 GMT

Georges-Kévin N’Koudou has been Cameroon’s most dangerous player in Ivory Coast but must convert his scoring opportunities against The Gambia

In a match where only a victory will do for both teams to keep their Round of 16 hopes alive, Cameroon face The Gambia with both camps in a bit of crisis. Cameroon showed some brief glimpses of potential against defending AFCON champions Senegal but fell to a 3-1 victory and under Rigobert Song, the Indomitable Lions have not been able to put together a convincing effort through ninety minutes. The Gambia have failed to show any signs of the team that performed so well during their run to the quarterfinals at the 2021 edition and coach Tom Saintfiet is under heavy fire.

Cameroon’s leadership have delayed any questions of their competence with Cameroonian Football Federation president Samuel Eto’o and head coach Rigobert Song having secured legendary status due to their accomplishments as players. However anything less than a victory will confirm a complete failure at the 2023 AFCON and even these two will have Cameroonian supporters calling for their heads.

There is still hope for the Indomitable Lions but they will have to accomplish a victory without captain and talismanic striker Vincent Aboubakar, who appears to be unavailable for the crucial occasion. Therefore the goal scoring duties fall to explosive winger Georges-Kévin N’Koudou and Frank Magri who have been the most dangerous attackers. More is also required of midfielders Olivier Kemen, Oliver Ntcham and André-Frank Zambo Anguissa who has struggled under the weight of increased responsibilities in Ivory Coast.

Gambia coach Tom Saintfiet erupted at the country’s media who had substantial expectations for the Scorpions this time around and the Belgian coach appears to have become a victim of his own success. A team severely weakened by injuries fell decisively to Senegal in the opening match and the team failed to find their stride against Guinea in a 1-0 defeat where opportunities were few and far between. The Scorpions realistically need to win by at least two goals to have any chance of advancing as one of the competition’s best third place finishers.

There is the ability to earn a victory against a Cameroon team low on confidence and organization. Musa Barrow, Ablie Jallow and Ebrima Colley are talented wingers with Barrow yet to show his true abilities in Ivory Coast. Yankuba Minteh is the apparent star of the future and could get the start on Tuesday after showing promise as a substitute against Guinea. The midfield and defense has been a notable weakness against stronger sides but there is hope that the experience against Guinea and Senegal will prepare captain Omar Colley and his defense well for a weaker test from Cameroon.

Can Aguibou Camara and Guinea prove themselves as a surprise package against defending champions Senegal?

Senegal have not lost a step or allowed high expectations to bring them down at the 2023 AFCON and they are now looking to finish Group C play with a perfect record against Guinea. Aliou Cissé and his charges continue to reliably roll along in a tricky group but know that Guinea will provide the sternest test of the group stage. Cissé stated he will not change things up too much but there should be opportunities given to a couple of players.

To achieve a perfect record through three matches, it is expected that team leaders including central defender Kalidou Koulibaly, attacker Sadio Mané and goalkeeper Édouard Mendy will retain their spots. Iliman Ndiaye and Nicolas Jackson could be in line to get an opportunity from the beginning in the attack and veteran midfielders Nampalys Mendy and Idrissa Gana Gueye are likely to be listed in the eleven to see their capabilities.

Kaba Diawara and his Guinea side did well to draw Cameroon after a first half red card and then got the job done with a 1-0 victory over The Gambia. Now it is time to for Diawara to achieve a result that shows a clear sign of progress with his multi-year project and what better than a victory over the reigning AFCON champions? However the players will take the field with a heavy heart after six Guinean supporters died during celebrations of the team’s victory over Gambia.

Striker Serhou Guirassy is one of the hottest names discussed in European club football and after missing out on the first two matches due to an injury, there are rumors that the Stuttgart player will be in the eleven. With Morgan Guilavogui and sparkplug Aguibou Camara in the attack to support Guirassy or Mohamed Bayo there is the potential to find the net against Senegal’s strong defense. A strong defensive midfield saw Abdoulaye Touré return to the eleven against Gambia and the defense continues to gain chemistry, particularly in the heart of the defense with the central partnership of Mouctar Diakhaby and Julian Jeanvier.

Group D: Mauritania v Algeria 20:00 GMT

Group D: Angola v Burkina Faso 20:00 GMT

Djamel Belmadi and his Algeria team need a convincing victory to gain momentum for the knockout stages but face a tricky opponent in Mauritania

Only a catastrophic defeat would prevent Algeria from qualifying for the Round of 16 but Les Verts have not been convincing in Ivory Coast. A positive start gave way to a surprise draw against Angola in their opening match and only a last gasp equalizer saved a point against Burkina Faso. Ahead is a match against Mauritania who have shown they are not the minnows they were at previous editions of the AFCON and Les Mourabitounes still have a chance of sneaking into the Round of 16 with a victory.

Algeria coach Djamel Belmadi cannot afford another AFCON failure after the disaster of 2021 but there is plenty of talent in his squad and it appears that there will be changes to the eleven on Tuesday. La Gazette du Fennec reports that Espérance ST central defender Mohamed Amine Tougaï will replace the suspended Ramy Bensebaini and that there will be a completely new midfield with Houssem Aouar, Ramiz Zerrouki and Hicham Boudaoui brought in. Baghdad Bounedjah will remain as the striker while star Riyad Mahrez will attempt to shake off disappointing form so far in Ivory Coast.

For Amir Abdou and his Mauritania team, there are signs of progress and the team proved they can find the net in a 3-2 defeat to Angola last week. The defense has been quite poor, however, and will need to improve against one of Africa’s elite attacks. Abdou’s goal in Ivory Coast was for his team to prove they are not easy victims and it can be said that he accomplished his goal. The architect of Comoros’ surprise run to the Round of 16 at the 2021 edition even went as far as to say his team will eliminate Algeria with a victory which would guarantee their spot in the Round of 16 at the expense of the North African nation.

Aboubakary Koita continues to be an excellent addition to the team and his long range blast against Angola is a candidate for Goal of the Tournament. Star striker Aboubakar Kamara came on as a substitute after coming off injured early in the opening match against Burkina Faso and the big occasion on Tuesday should see him participate from the start. Bodda Mouhsine and Omaré Gassama appear to be the key figures in midfield and captain Aly Abeid is the marshal of the defense. Goalkeeper Babacar Niasse will need to be at his best and surely will have to make some saves to keep hope of a victory alive.

Issa Kaboré has impressed on the right wing both in defense and midfield for Burkina Faso and will need to help contain dangerous Angola winger Gelson Dala on Tuesday

Nobody expected Angola to be the leaders of Group D after two matches but the Palancas Negras have performed excellently with a draw against Algeria and a thrilling victory over Mauritania. Left winger Gelson Dala is proving his high level of talent in Ivory Coast at the perfect time for the COSAFA nation who previously had many difficulties finding the goal. On Tuesday they face a Burkina Faso team whose defense continues to perform at a high standard as the Stallions earn results despite notable injuries.

The goal scoring issues of recent months appear to be solved for Angola and ironically the concern turns to defense after leaking goals against Mauritania. Pedro Gonçalves proved his tactical abilities in the opening match against Algeria and will surely make some adjustments to bolster his team’s defensive capabilities. The coach stated that he and his team worked on their mistakes and that they have a plan to contain their West African opponents.

That plan may involve the involvement of talented young ball winning midfielder Manuel Keliano, who helped to contain the Mauritanian attack as a substitute in the final thirty minutes. The Estrela Amadora player could line up next to key player Show while captain and playmaker Fredy moves up in the formation. The aforementioned Dala is the star among a talented group of quick wingers and veteran striker Mabululu appears to have won the battle to be the lead striker at the top of the formation.

Burkina Faso needed to grind their way to victory against Mauritania and were minutes away from defeating Algeria but now need to be focused against Angola. Coach Hubert Velud remarked that his team needs to work on the little details to improve but may have not helped the cause of the Stallions with an intriguing triple substitution late against Algeria. The goal is achieving first place in the group but Burkina Faso will need a victory to achieve this which means finding more efficiency in the attack.

Injuries have negatively impacted the Burkinabé attack with Dango Ouattara out and captain Bertrand Traoré limited to substitute appearances due to extended injury spells. Right back and Best Young Player of the 2021 AFCON, Issa Kaboré, did well moving up to right wing and there is hope that Ouattara will make at least a substitute appearance against Angola. The status of Traoré appears to be to use him as a substitute until the knockout stages. The defense is well known with reliable central defense partnership Edmond Tapsoba and Issoufou Dayo in front of goalkeeper Hervé Koffi.

There are yellow card suspensions to deal with after striker Mohamed Konaté and midfielder Ibrahim “Blati” Touré were booked against Algeria. A new central midfield partnership will have to be selected due to the suspension of Touré and injury to Adama Guira, leaving Gustavo Sangaré and the diminutive defensive option Ismahila Ouédraogo as the likely candidates. Abdoul Tapsoba, Hassane Bandé and RS Berkane striker Djibril Ouattara are all potential replacements for Konaté.

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