AFCON 2023: Namibia eyes upset against Angola in knockout round


In a highly anticipated Round of 16 clash at the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations Côte d’Ivoire 2023, underdogs Namibia are set to challenge Angola at the Stade de la Paix in Bouake on Saturday.

This match, only the second meeting between the two teams in the tournament’s history, offers Namibia a chance to create a major upset and continue their remarkable journey in the competition.

Angola, having topped Group D with 7 points, enters this round as favorites. Their campaign so far has been impressive, with victories over Mauritania and Burkina Faso and a draw against Algeria. This performance marks the first time Angola has won two matches at a single AFCON edition, signaling their strong form in the tournament.

Namibia, on the other hand, has recorded a historic first win in the TotalEnergies CAF AFCON, playing a pivotal role in their advancement to the knockout phase.

This is uncharted territory for the Brave Warriors, as they feature in the AFCON knockout stages for the first time, having qualified as one of the four best third-place ranked teams.

Despite scoring just one goal and ending the group stage with a goal difference of -3, Namibia has shown resilience and a fighting spirit.

The Stade de la Paix, familiar to Angola having played two of their group games there, might present a psychological edge.

However, Namibia’s head coach, Collin Benjamin, is focused on his team’s strengths.

“We have good technical players with big hearts… It’s the determination, ambition, mentality; these boys want to succeed and they understand everything about the team,” Benjamin said. He emphasized the importance of a stable defense and the motivational factor of being among the best 16 teams in Africa.

Angola’s head coach, Pedro Gonçalves, recognizes the challenge posed by Namibia. “Namibia is a very powerful team, they are very brave,” he said. Gonçalves stressed the need for his team to maintain balance and be considerate in passing, aware of the danger Namibia can pose.

Key players to watch include Angola’s Gelson Dala, who has already scored two goals in this tournament and featured in CAF’s team of the group stage. Namibia’s hopes may rest on the shoulders of Deon Hotto, the recipient of two TotalEnergies Man of the Match awards, whose performance could prove decisive.

This game is set to be a gripping encounter, with both teams eager to write more history in the tournament. For Angola, the goal is to surpass their quarter-final appearances in previous editions, while Namibia aims to continue their fairy-tale run in their first-ever knockout stage appearance.

As the football world turns its attention to Bouake, this match promises not just a quest for victory but a showcase of emerging talents and a testament to the ever-evolving landscape of African football. The stakes are high, and the excitement is palpable as Namibia and Angola prepare to battle it out on the African football’s grand stage.

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