A place in the Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals is up for grabs for two sides not given much of a chance before the tournament. Look ahead with our Cape Verde vs Mauritania prediction and preview.

Cape Verde vs Mauritania: Pre-Match Facts

  • In the latest 10,000 pre-match simulations run by the Opta supercomputer, Cape Verde were victorious after 90 minutes 56.3% of the time.
  • Cape Verde have only featured in two Africa Cup of Nations knockout matches – they lost both games 2-0, to Ghana in the 2013 quarter-final and Senegal in the 2021 last 16.
  • Mauritania will play their first ever AFCON knockout match in this game. Their only win in nine previous Africa Cup of Nations matches (D2 L6) was on MD3 of this year’s group stage, beating Algeria 1-0.
  • Cape Verde have scored seven goals in their three 2023 Africa Cup of Nations games, more than they managed in their 11 games across 2013, 2015 and 2021 combined (6). Their conversion rate this year has been 22% (7 goals from 32 shots), compared to 5% over their first three tournaments (6 goals from 114 shots).
  • Mauritania have reached the knockouts despite losing their first two group games, winning on MD 3 against Algeria and qualifying as one of the best third-placed ranked teams. They are only the third team to reach the knockouts despite losing their first two group games, along with DR Congo in 2019 and Comoros in 2021.
  • Only DR Congo and Senegal (0) conceded fewer goals in open play in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations group stage than Cape Verde (1), while only Equatorial Guinea (8) scored more times in open play than the Blue Sharks (6).
  • Mauritania’s Aboubakary Koïta completed the most take-ons of any player in the group stage (11) and also attempted the most shots following a take-on (4). Indeed, of the 24 players to attempt 10 take-ons, Koïta’s success rate was 17% higher than any other player (79%, 11/14).
  • In the group stage, the two players who won the most duels were Mauritania duo Koïta (27) and Omaré Gassama (26), while the two players to make the most tackles were Ibrahima Keita (12) and Gassama (11).
  • Two of Cape Verde’s seven goals in the group stage were scored by substitutes, with Garry Rodrigues netting against Ghana and Bryan Teixeira scoring against Egypt. Both goals came in second-half stoppage time.

Match Preview

Neither Cape Verde nor Mauritania were expected to go deep into the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations before the tournament started, but their last-16 meeting on Monday means one of them will reach the quarter-finals.

Although it wouldn’t be the first time Cape Verde have made it to the last eight, as they did so in their maiden AFCON 11 years ago, the Blue Sharks have undoubtedly defied expectations to get this far considering their performance in the group stage.

Cape Verde topped a Group B that also contained record champions Egypt, Ghana and Mozambique. They didn’t lose once, rescuing a 2-2 draw in the ninth minute of stoppage time against the Pharaohs on Matchday 3 after beating the Black Stars 2-1 – also courtesy of a dramatic late goal – and the Mambas 3-0.

Cape Verde vs Egypt xG race

Their two wins in this tournament is already the most they’ve managed in a single AFCON edition, and although they did make the last eight in 2013, that was before the tournament’s expansion; back then, the quarter-finals were the first round of the knockouts, so to reach them this time could arguably be seen as a greater achievement.

Nevertheless, this game does represent history for Mauritania. Their Matchday 3 win over Algeria was their first ever victory at an AFCON, so they’ll be competing in their maiden knockout game against Cape Verde on Monday.

Mauritania vs Algeria xG map

Their route through the group stage was a little more fortunate than their next opponents’. Defeats to Angola and Burkina Faso in their first two games gave them the unenviable task of trying to get a result against a talented Algeria side; they managed it and those three points were just enough to take them through as one of the four best third-place teams.

As such, they’re only the third team in AFCON history to reach the knockouts after losing their first two group matches.

Against a Cape Verde side full of belief and riding the crest of a wave following three positive results, Mauritania’s luck might just run out, however.

Cape Verde vs Mauritania Head-to-Head

This will be the first ever meeting between Cape Verde and Mauritania at the Africa Cup of Nations, which is perhaps unsurprising considering both are relative newcomers to the tournament.

They have played in other competitions, though. Their last encounter was in an African Nations Championship – a tournament in which teams can only pick players from their domestic leagues – qualifier in August 2019. Mauritania won that game 2-1 in Nouakchott.

Cape Verde vs Mauritania Prediction

Cape Verde vs Mauritania Prediction

Cape Verde are considered firm favourites for this one by the Opta supercomputer as they won 56.3% of the 10,000 pre-match simulations in 90 minutes. Mauritania were only victorious in 22.1% of those.

That means 21.6% of the time this game went to extra time and potentially penalties; taking those possibilities into account, the supercomputer gives Cape Verde a 62.8% likelihood of getting through to the quarter-finals (at the time of writing), as you’ll see below in the current, up-to-date projections through the rest of the tournament.

Whoever goes through, it’ll be a considerable achievement. After all, in our pre-tournament predictions, Cape Verde (0.9%) and Mauritania (0.6%) were among the nine teams given less than a 1.0% chance of winning the whole thing; they’ve already outlasted some very reputable countries.

Cape Verde vs Mauritania Squads

Cape Verde: Márcio da Rosa, Vózinha, Dylan Silva, Stopira, Dylan Tavares, João Correia, Logan Costa, Steven Moreira, Pico, Diney Borges, Kenny Rocha, Laros Duarte, Deroy Duarte, Kevin Pina, Cuca, Patrick Andrade, Jamiro Monteiro, João Paulo, Ryan Mendes, Willy Semedo, Garry Rodrigues, Jovane Cabral, Bebé, Bryan Teixeira, Hélio Varela, Gilson Benchimol.

Coach: Bubista

Mauritania: Namori Diaw, M’Backé N’Diaye, Babacar Niasse, Aly Abeid, Mohamed Dellahi, Lamine Ba, Khadim Diaw, Ibrahima Keita, Hassan Houbeib, Bakary N’Diaye, Nouh El Abd, Mouhsine Bodda, Sidi El Abd, Oumar Ngom, Omaré Gassama, Abdallahi Mahmoud, El Ba, Bakari Camara, Guessouma Fofana, Pape Bâ, Aboubakary Koïta, Sidi Amar, Souleymane Doukara, Hemeya Tanjy, Aboubakar Kamara, Souleymane Anne, Idrissa Thiam.

Coach: Amir Abdou

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