‘Proud’ Cape Verde take aim at fellow surprise package Mauritania

football28 January 2024 07:00| © Backpage TXT
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Bubista © Backpage Pix

Cape Verde and Mauritania, two of the ‘surprise packages’ at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, will battle it out in a Round of 16 match at the Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium in Abidjan on the evening of Monday 29 January. Kick-off is at 7pm CAT.

Current form

Cape Verde have been the revelation of the AFCON thus far, topping Group B ahead of Egypt, Ghana and Mozambique. The Blue Sharks opened with a stunning 2-1 win over the Black Stars and then became the first team to secure a knockout berth when they crushed Mozambique 3-0. Finally, a 2-2 draw with Egypt in which they fought back to end unbeaten speaks to the spirit and determination of these so-called ‘minnows’.

Mauritania appeared to be heading out of the tournament, having lost their opening two Group D matches against Burkina Faso (0-1) and Angola (2-3). However, they pulled off the biggest shock of the tournament thus far with a 1-0 win over former champions Algeria, with Dellahi Yali’s first-half strike proving enough to not only down the Fennec Foxes, but also send the Lions of Chinguetti into the AFCON knockout rounds for the first time.

Team news

Neither team has any notable injury concerns nor suspensions, allowing the coaches to pick similar line-ups to their final group games.

What was said

“I am so proud of my players,” said Cape Verde coach Bubista. “They applied the instructions perfectly, what makes me even more proud is their behaviour on the pitch. When one loses the ball, another recovers it. I liked seeing this solidarity.”

“It’s extraordinary what we are experiencing," said Mauritania coach Amir Abdou. "I told the players that they wrote the history of Mauritania.”

Players to watch

Cape Verde: The Blue Sharks offer a threat from all over the field, but the fairytale story is that of Bebe, the former Manchester United winger/attacking midfielder who scored an extraordinary goal against Mozambique and will be hungry to continue his momentum in this tournament.

Mauritania: Dellahi Yali may have scored the all-important goal that sent his team to this stage of the competition, but the Lions of Chinguetti’s real hero was goalkeeper Babacar Niasse – and a knockout game (with the potential of a penalty shootout) could give him another opportunity to shine.


In head-to-head stats, Cape Verde and Mauritania have met in 11 matches dating back as far as 1982. The Blue Sharks have claimed five wins compared to three for the Lions of Chinguetti, while three games have been drawn. The teams last met in August 2019 in the qualifiers for the African Nations Championship, with Mauritania winning 2-1 at home.