The Maiden Round of 16 of the African Cup of Nations has Produced its Verdict With some shocks producing very exciting games ahead in the Round of Eight.
Five former winners and two new comers at this level of the competition have joint Senegal to complete the table for the Round of eight, with five group toppers shockingly shown the door.
The Squirrels of Benin who have never played an AFCON quarterfinal game since the quarterfinals where introduced in the competition in 1992 stunned all and sundry when they eliminated 1976 winners and 2004 runners-up Morocco in a game that very few gave them a chance in especially after finishing only third in Group F with no win and were going against Group D winners Morocco who had a maximum nine points from a very difficult group with no goal conceded.
In their fourth AFCON appearance Benin will face the Teranga Lions who edged Uganda 1-0 in their own Round of 16 game thanks to a goal from Sadio Mané.
Senegal will be playing the quarterfinals of the African Cup of Nations for the eighth time and they have lost three of their previous seven games at this level in the competition.
The Carthage Eagles of Tunisia who won the competition in 2004 and are in their 14 consecutive AFCON appearance and had a difficult group stage as they finished second in Group E behind Mali with unconvincing three points from three draws.
Their opponents at the Round of 16 were the Black Stars of Ghana who topped Group F ahead of Cameroon and looked to have rediscovered their form after that last group game against Guinea-Bissau.
Ghana who have been in the semifinals of the last six editions of the AFCON and lost two finals in the process where after a fifth title they have been running behind for 37 long years now.
Their aspirations were damaged by Tunisia who defeated them after post match penalties to set up a clash against fiery tale living opponents Madagascar.
Tunisia will be playing the quarterfinals of the AFCON for a 10th time and they have managed to win just four of their nine previous fixtures at this level of the competition.
Madagascar who are the first team not to be beaten in their first four AFCON games after Zambia who avoided defeat in their first five games from 1974 are living in wonder land after qualifying for the quarterfinals against 1968 and 1974 winners the DRC who did not really get their competition up and running after two losses and an emphatic win against Zimbabwe which turned out to be a mere flash in the pan.
The Super Eagles of Nigeria earned a hard fought third AFCON game win with against defending champions Cameroon on their seventh meeting in the competition, to set up a clash with 1996 winners South Africa.
The three time winners took the lead against Cameroon who went into the half time break with a goal ahead. But Gernot Rohr’s men inspired by Odion Ighalo and Alex Iwobi got vital goals to see them through.
They will be playing the quarterfinals for a ninth time and they have won all their previous eight quarterfinals ties in the AFCON, the last being a 2-1 win against Ivory Coast in 2013.
South Africa shocked Egypt against all expectations to send the Rainbow nation into ecstasy when Thembinkosi Lorch grabbed that priceless winner.
Egypt failed to win the AFCON on home soil for the second time after failing to do so before in 1974, in all five times they have hosted the tournament.
The last time South Africa qualified for the quarterfinals in the AFCON was in 2013 when they lost to Mali on penalties. They will be playing the quarterfinals for the sixth time and they have have won three of the previous five.
Algeria have been the most consistent team in the 2019 tournament so far with good performances in all their games even when coach Belmadi made as many nine change to his team in their game against Tanzania at the group stage.
They made light work of Guinea to set up a quarterfinals tie against Ivory Coast in what is beyond doubts the tie of the round of eight.
The 1990 winners will be playing their fifth quarterfinals in 18 AFCON appearances and only succeeded to beat Zambia on penalties in 2010 tournament.
They will have their work cut out against 1992 and 2015 winners Ivory Coast who are making their 23 AFCON appearance.
Ivory Coast had a tricky tie against the Eagles of Mali but the Elephants made their experience count by making the most of a half chance when Wilfried Zaha peeled off the Mali defense from a diagonal ball to beat Mali’s Djigui Diarra between the sticks for the lone goal of the game.
The Ivorians will be playing their 9th quarterfinals in the tournament and have won five of their previous 9 ties at this level of the competition. Their last win was a 3-1 win against Nigeria in 2015.
A total of eight goals were scored in the round of 16 with two games decided through the dreaded and nerve draining penalty shootouts.
A total of 33 yellow card and one red card were brandished by the men in black.
The competition is gradually and surely moving to the business end with eight games to go, real nail biting times for the real fans.
Senegal vs Benin ( 30 June Stadium, 17:00 CAT, Wednesday July 10 )
Nigeria vs South Africa ( Cairo International Stadium, 20:00 CAT, July 10)
Ivory Coast vs Algeria ( Suez Stadium, 17:00 CAT, July 11)
Madagascar vs Tunisia ( Al Salam Stadium, 20:00 CAT, July 11)