Smelling qualification for the knockout stages, Monday saw underdogs, Cape Verde, deny hosts Cameroon three points, and then snatching a point that currently leaves them on the cusp of qualifying for the Round of 16 as one of the four best thirds. It is this kind of motivation that could leave Senegal unable to qualify for the next stages when they come up against The Flames of Malawi in the decisive group stage match on Tuesday.
Three points for Malawi, who showed much intent in their second match against Zimbabwe, would ensure that Malawi finish the group on six points and comfortably into the next round. Depending on the results between Guinea and Zimbabwe, three points could allow Malawi to top the group. The winner of the group will meet one of the thirds in the Round of 16 – even more motivation for Malawi thereby making the dream of reaching the quarterfinals even more possible.
Should Malawi fail to stage a three-point heist against Senegal, they cannot afford to lose. A loss would end dash any hope of qualifying, while a point pushes to qualification contention of the best four thirds.
However, the Teranga Lions of Senegal need at least a draw to gain automatic qualification, even though a loss is also not doom and gloom leaving them on four points in contention of the four places for best thirds.
Guinea are almost home and dry, mostly having to play to finish as the group leaders in order to get one of the best thirds in the next round. A draw would still secure qualification for the National Elephants, as Guinea are known, likely to finish second at worst. In the event, Malawi gets a draw and Guinea loses their match to deflated Zimbabwe, and the two teams are tied on four points, Guinea would still finish second with a superior head-to-head statistic. A win for either Senegal or Malawi still leaves Guinea on second position.
Unlikely turn of events
However, the unlikely turn of events which could leave current log leaders, Guinea in precarious position if they were to lose by at least two goals to Zimbabwe, and Malawi win by a solitary goal against Senegal. This would move Malawi top of the group, and Senegal on second with a better goal difference over Guinea, who would, in a completely unexpected turn of events, have to hope to go through as one of the best thirds.
Guinea results – 4 points
Guinea 1 – 0 Malawi (WIN)
Guinea 0 – 0 Senegal (DRAW)
Senegal results – 4 points
Senegal 1 – 0 Zimbabwe (WIN)
Senegal 0 – 0 Guinea (DRAW)
Malawi results – 3 points
Malawi 0 – 1 Guinea (LOSS)
Malawi 2 – 1 Zimbabwe (WIN)
Zimbabwe results – o points
Zimbabwe 0 – 1 Senegal (LOSS)
Zimbabwe 1 – Senegal (LOSS)
Malawi v Senegal
Zimbabwe v Guinea
Malawi versus Senegal Match Facts:
This will be the first encounter between Malawi and Senegal at the Africa Cup of Nations.
Malawi have lost their third game in the group stage on each of their previous two appearances at the Africa Cup of Nations, losing to Ghana in 1984 (0-1) and Mali in 2010 (1-3).
Senegal have lost just one of their last eight group stage games at the Africa Cup of Nations since the start of the 2017 edition (W5 D2), keeping six clean sheets and conceding just three goals.
Each of the last three teams facing Senegal for the first time at the Africa Cup of Nations have suffered defeats, with Tanzania, Uganda and Benin all losing against them in 2019.
After becoming the first ever Malawi player to score a brace at the Africa Cup of Nations, Gabadinho Mhango could be the first Malawi player to score in consecutive AFCON appearances since Russell Mwafulirwa in January 2010, while one more goal would make him Malawi’s top goal-scorer in their history in the competition.
Zimbabwe versus Guinea Match Facts:
This will be the first encounter between Zimbabwe and Guinea at the Africa Cup of Nations.
Zimbabwe are looking to avoid losing four consecutive Africa Cup of Nations matches for the very first time, while defeat would also see them lose all three group stage matches in a single Afcon edition for the first time.
Guinea are unbeaten in their two Africa Cup of Nations 2021 games (W1 D1), keeping consecutive clean sheets for the first time in the competition. In fact, they’ve stopped the opposition from scoring in three of their last four AFCON matches, as many times as in all their previous 41 games at the tournament.
Zimbabwe’s only two victories at the Africa Cup of Nations have come in their final group stage match, winning both games by a 2-1 score-line (against Algeria in 2004 and Ghana in 2006).
After their 0-0 against Senegal, Guinea have never failed to score in consecutive group stage games at the Africa Cup of Nations, while they haven’t lost their final group game since 1998 (W2 D4 since).
Below is the qualifying criteria as per the rules of the tournament:
In case of equality between two teams at the end of the group matches, the teams will be ranked according to the following criteria in the order listed below:
a) The greatest number of points obtained in the match between the two teams concerned;
b) The goal difference in all group matches;
c) The greatest number of goals scored in all group matches
d) A drawing of lots conducted by the Organizing Committee
In case of equality between more than two teams at the end of the group matches, the teams will be ranked according to the following criteria in the order listed below:
a) The greatest number of points obtained in the matches between the teams concerned;
b) The best goal difference in the matches between the teams concerned;
c) The greatest number of goals scored in the matches between the teams concerned;
d) If after applying criteria(a)to (c), two teams are still tied, (a) to (c) criteria are again applied to matches played between the two teams in question to determine the final ranking of the two teams. If this procedure does not allow separating them, the criteria listed from (e) to (g) are applied in the indicated order;
e)The goal difference in all group matches;
f)The greatest number of goals scored in all group matches;
g)A drawing of lots conducted by the Organizing Committee
Criteria of defining the best 4 thirds in the groups
The four best teams among those ranked third will be determined as follows:
a) greater number of points obtained in all group matches;
b) goal difference resulting from all group matches;
c) greater number of goals scored in all group matches;
d) drawing of lots by CAF Organising Committee
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