The three-time Cup of Nations champions Nigeria must feel confident about their chances of playing against Angola in the first quarter-final of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations Felix Houphouet-Boigny on Friday.
The Super Eagles of Nigeria are the latest favourite to win the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, with many of the continent’s big teams out before the quarter-final stage.
But first, they will have to do themselves justice against a wounded Angola side. This match promises to be exciting for the neutral spectators, as both teams in previous matches have shown a willingness to concede possession and pounce on counter-attacks.
Angola’s Gelson Dala and Cristóvão Paciência Mabululu, who are among the top scorers at the tournament, will surely pounce on any lacklustre from the Super Eagles defence.
The two nations have met 10 times before, with Nigeria winning three, drawing five, and losing two. Angola defeated Nigeria 1-0 during the FIFA World Cup Africa Group 4 match held at the Estadio da Cidadela, Luanda in June 2004. However, they shared the spoils in the return fixture in June 2005 at the Sani Abacha Stadium, Kano.
According to predictions, Nigeria is expected to win against Angola and either Cape Verde or South Africa and advance to the final on February 11. However, with some surprising results in the tournament so far, Nigeria will need to put in more effort to achieve victory.
The West Africans ranked 42nd in the current FIFA Rankings as the highest-ranked side left in the competition following the exit of Morocco (13th), reigning champions Senegal (20th), Tunisia (28th), Algeria (30th) and Egypt (33rd).
In comparison, Angola is the lowest-ranked team (117th) left at AFCON 2023 and will be out to cause one of the biggest shocks in recent memory at the tournament. However, the Palancas Negras topped Group D and eliminated Namibia in the round of sixteen – they have won three out of their last four matches at the tournament.
Throughout the tournament, Nigeria and Angola have had less possession than their opponents, with Nigeria averaging 45.0% and Angola 44.0%. But both teams have been very effective in creating chances from counter-attacks.
Angola and South Africa lead the tournament with five shots each from counter-attacks, with Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea following closely behind with four.
Ademola Lookman scored twice as the Super Eagles knocked out another heavyweight Cameroon with the help of Victor Osimhen’s fighting spirit.