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AFCON 2023 Round of 16 Preview: Angola vs Namibia

Following an enthralling group stage that featured plenty of drama and goals at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, the fun is just beginning with the arrival of the knockout stages on Saturday! An interesting duel kicks off the Round of 16 between Angola and Namibia, two nations who have already exceeded expectations at this point. Read more below on both teams in the opening match of the Round of 16:

Angola v Namibia- 17:00 GMT

Angola

Angola captain Fredy brings experience and composure to the midfield with his passing and set piece abilities

What a productive tournament it has been for the Palancas Negras of Angola, who won Group D following consecutive victories over Mauritania and Burkina Faso. Another example of a team whose stability at the coaching position is producing dividends, Pedro Gonçalves is proving to be a master tactician after the Portuguese coach spent many years in Angolan football. Gonçalves emphasized balance as the focus of his team ahead of the clash with Namibia who he praised as a “powerful team”.

In the defense, the Palancas Negras are led by central defender Kialonda Gaspar, a powerful force who plays with Estrela Amadora in the Portuguese Primeira Liga. It appears that the rest of the Angolan defense will feature domestic based players in front of Primeiro de Agosto goalkeeper Neblú. Fullbacks Eddie Afonso (right flank) and Tó Carneiro (left flank) are both regulars with Angolan club champions Petro de Luanda and central defender Quinito got the nod to partner Gaspar in the final group stage match against Burkina Faso. Jonathan Buatu is another option in the center and skilled left back Núrio Fortuna returned to Belgian club Genk because of an injury.

Fredy, the captain and skilled former forward who converted to a midfielder in his later years, sits in front of two ball winners who will likely be Maccabi Haifa player Show and either Estrela or Bruno Paz, both based in Turkish football. Gelson Dala is the attacking threat to watch on the left wing and it seems that explosive Petro de Luanda winger Gilberto is the favorite to begin on the right wing with his excellent dribbling ability. Veteran poacher Mabululu is making the most of his opportunity and appears set to lead the tip of the formation.

Namibia

Namibia proved that they don’t need goals from Peter Shalulile to grind out results but the Mamelodi Sundowns striker needs to get it going in the knockout stages

This Namibia team believed in their abilities when many wrote them off as a team who were easy prey for three points in Group E. Head coach Collin Benjamin must be commended for his efforts in getting this group to believe and the former national team star reserved special praise for his charges: “We want to be part of the best 16 teams in Africa and definitely we are among the best 16, it is a motivation in itself. I don’t remember if Namibia will go into any game with the odds favoring us, it will always go against us.”

Outside of a disappointing 4-0 defeat to South Africa, the Namibian defense has been quite good with outstanding performances from Chippa United goalkeeper Lloyd Kazapua leading the way. Central defenders Kennedy Amutenya and Lubeni Haukongo are aggressive on tackles when following forwards into the midfield and well positioned to deal with crosses from the flanks. Riaan Hanamub is a tenacious presence at left back who continues to be impressive outside of a disappointing effort against South Africa and natural left back Aprocious Petrus is firmly established at the defensive midfield position.

Ahead of Petrus in the center of the midfield is where Namibia’s notable weakness lies. Veteran player Petrus Shitembi was benched for domestic based player Ngero Katua and rising talent Prins Tijueza still has not shown his best as the central attacking midfielder. Star playmaker Deon Hotto has a free role to roam around and an excellent left foot to score or create for his teammates and Peter Shalulile will press defenders and make constant runs to get into scoring positions. Shalulile has had his chances but must capitalize because the performances have been underwhelming from the Brave Warriors’ talismanic striker so far.

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