THE 2019 edition of the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) has reached fever pitch in Egypt with the knockout stages well underway.
A place in the quarterfinals of the continent’s biggest showpiece is up for grabs.
Four teams have already booked their spots in the last 8 round, four more are set to join them.
This year’s surprise package, Madagascar, will hope their fairytale run in the competition continues when they face the Democratic Republic of Congo at Alexandria Stadium tonight (6pm).
Barea, as Madagascar are also known, will be high in confidence after they pulled off one of the biggest shocks of the Afcon finals by beating Nigeria 2-0 to finish top of Group B.
The Indian Ocean Islanders are flying the flag high for the Southern African region in their debut campaign and will fancy their chances against the Leopards.
Madagascar coach, Nicolas Dupuis, will once again look to his talismanic forward Carolous Andriamatsinoro to fire them to a historic quarterfinals spot.
Dupuis, who also runs the Frenchfourth-tier outfit Fleury 91, said they will not get ahead of themselves after causing one of the biggest upsets in the history of the competition against the Super Eagles.
“Humility and confidence is what got us here and now we’ll try to go as far as we possibly can,” said the Frenchman.
“It was a real feat that we managed to qualify for the finals.
“Then, we came here and won a game and now we’re going to the round of 16. It’s great achievement for us.”
Standing between the Islanders and a place in the next round, though, is a dangerous Leopards outfit that appears to be peaking at the right time.
After two consecutive defeats to Egypt and Uganda, the Leopards thumped Zimbabwe 4-0 to finish third in Group A and secure passage to the last 16 as one of the best ranked third-placed sides.
Striker Cedric Bakambu, who scored twice against the Warriors, will carry the Leopards’ hopes once again.
- Today’s other fixtures:Algeria v Guinea (9pm).Tomorrow:) Mali v Ivory Coast (6pm).) Ghana v Tunisia (9pm).