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AFCON 2023 Quarterfinal Preview: Cape Verde vs South Africa

The quarterfinal round at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations finishes up on Saturday evening with an enticing clash between Cape Verde and South Africa. Cape Verde continue to establish themselves as a contender after winning Group B and defeating Mauritania in the Round of 16 but the Blue Sharks are facing a Bafana Bafana side that has ambitions of replicating the success experienced by South Africa over twenty years ago after an upset of Morocco. Read more about both teams in a clash that has no clear favorite below:

Cape Verde vs South Africa- 20:00 GMT

Cape Verde

Cape Verde forward Bebé has an element of unpredictability that could make the difference on Saturday for the Blue Sharks

Cape Verde survived a stern challenge from Mauritania in their 1-0 victory in the Round of 16 and now the Blue Sharks will attempt to reach the semifinals for the first time. Head coach Bubista revealed that the goal of his team was always to reach the final four and there is plenty of confidence in the squad, which appears to be without any injuries outside of backup goalkeeper Márcio Rosa. Cape Verde are undefeated so far in Ivory Coast, accumulating eight goals and three conceded in four matches.

The attack Bubista has at his disposal is versatile and unpredictable in a good way. Rayo Vallecano forward Bebé can drift in and out of matches but has excellent technique on set pieces and unlimited confidence when dribbling at defenders. Captain Ryan Mendes is Cape Verde’s all-time leading scorer and the 34-year-old still has plenty of pace, a trait that is shared by the third attacker Jovane Cabral. Garry Rodrigues is the super substitute of choice for Bubista and the versatile three-man attacking line will operate in front of playmaker Jamiro Monteiro who plays his club football in the United States.

Kevin Pina and Deroy Duarte are central midfielders who will alternate defensive duties while the other supports the attack. Roberto “Pico” Lopes is a veteran central defender who is the vocal leader of the defense along with goalkeeper Vozinha. Logan Costa is a younger French-born central defender who continues to impress and compliments the “no nonsense” style of Lopes well. Steven Moreira is another versatile defender who will begin the match at right back and can also add to the attack while João Paulo is a left back who prefers to attack rather than defend.

South Africa

Tebogo Mokoena and Sphephelo Sithole compliment each other well in the center of the South Africa midfield and will be instrumental if Bafana Bafana are to win the battle in the midfield

South Africa have plenty of history in the Africa Cup of Nations but have not reached the semifinals since their glory days at the 2000 edition after winning it in 1996 and finishing as runners-up in 1998. Under coach Hugo Broos this Bafana Bafana team has South Africans back to believing and the confidence is incredibly high following a 2-0 victory over Morocco. The defeat of the Atlas Lions was well deserved and if Bafana can take advantage of their opportunities this team is dangerous.

A strong defense was crucial to the victory over Morocco and we feel like a broken record at this point, but it is undeniable that the heavy Mamelodi Sundowns influence in this team is a major reason for Bafana’s success. Goalkeeper Ronwen Williams is an incredible shot stopper who can also start attacks with his excellent distribution and in front of him is a defensive line that is led by club teammate Mothobi Mvala who is tough as nails. Partnering Mvala in the center is Sundowns player Grant Kekana with plenty of pace on both flanks courtesy of right back Khuliso Mudau and left back Aubrey Modiba, both players who can get forward to support the attack as well.

In midfield, the partnership of Teboho Mokoena (another Sundowns star) and Portuguese-based player Sphephelo Sithole remain steady for Bafana with Mokoena a beacon of technical ability and vision while Sithole is a steady ball-winning presence who focuses on making the right decisions on the ball. Sundowns winger Thapelo Morena adds additional pace on the right flank since being introduced into the starting eleven in Bafana’s second group stage match against Namibia, which moved the explosive Percy Tau to the left wing. Themba Zwane is the central playmaker behind Orlando Pirates striker Evidence Makgopa who continues to prove Broos right by doing his part to make Bafana supporters forget about the controversial absence of Burnley striker Lyle Foster.


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