Togo v Burkina Faso
Togo are favourites because of the Adebayor effect and the damage caused by the last group-game bookings. The same game plan will see them progress.
Burkina Faso have been quite impressive. The absence of Traore due to injury is a big blow. This automatically will force them to play differently. They will have less mobility and be containable due to the fact that a relatively static striker has to be played – either Bance or Dagano.
Burkina Faso are stronger when they can count on the counter and pacey football inspired by Petroipa and Traore.
Should they find a viable replacement in that mode, Togo could suffer.
Ghana v Cape Verde
By reaching the quarterfinals, the Cape Verdeans made African history. Their celebration said it all. Are they now content? Are they still hungry for more? Will their achievement be a distraction or an impetus to do more? Will the relaxed nature and lack of pressure push them to another victory? Their mindset could be a problem for Ghana.
Ghana have no choice but to take the fight to the Cape Verdeans.
Their greatest mistake will be to start thinking ahead of Cape Verde and thinking of the semifinals. Should even as few as two players go into this game with a ‘we have qualified’ attitude, they will be surprised.
South Africa v Mali
This is the most even game of the quarterfinals. Both teams have impressed and deserve to be here. Mali need to repeat the same game plan as their last group game against Congo DR – offensive, audacious, compact and ruthless from behind in defence.
A continued dependence on Seydou Keita’s leadership is important.
South Africa needs to find a way to stop Seydou keita from playing and stop the balls from getting to him. Once he has it at his feet it becomes complicated.
An adjustment defensively is direly needed to offset defensive lapses that are ever so present. The Malians will not miss one-on-one goalmouth duels with Khune like the Moroccans did.
If there is ever a game where the 12th man’s role (the fans) is important, it is this one. So South African fans have no choice but to go out and be that 12th man!
Nigeria v Ivory Coast
If there was ever an encounter between these two teams that is so unbalanced on paper, it is this one. The odds and popular belief are all in favour of the Ivorians.
They have two recent African players of the year in Didier Drogba and Yaya Toure in their fold.
The reserve bench, if you can call it that, is as good as the first team of most African nations. Kind of like what Nigeria enjoyed in the past.