The 33rd edition of the Africa Cup of Nations is in the final four after a thrilling quarter-final series over the weekend.
Hosts Cameroon are now among the favorites after world number 36 Nigeria fell in the round of 16, followed by the exits of number 28 Morocco and number 30 Tunisia in the quarterfinals. Algeria, number 29 in the FIFA World Ranking, did not even make it past the group stage of the African Cup of Nations.
There will be star power in the semi-finals as Mo Salah leads Egypt to their showdown against Cameroon. And Salah's Liverpool teammate, Sadio Mané, leads a star-studded Senegalese team, which is the highest-ranked team (No. 20) in the African football confederation.
Outsiders Burkina Faso take on Senegal on Wednesday, while Cameroon and Egypt meet on Thursday. Egypt has won the most African Cups (7), while Cameroon is aiming to win its sixth African Cup.
Breakdown of the African Cup of Nations semi-finals
Here are all the stats and facts you need to know ahead of the penultimate matchday of Africa's premier soccer competition.
Burkina Faso vs. Senegal
In the first semi-final, Burkina Faso is a big loser. The team from the small landlocked country of West Africa is ranked 60th in the world and takes on mighty Senegal. Burkina Faso have impressed so far, scoring in every game and beating Gabon and Tunisia in the knockout rounds.
In contrast, Senegal struggled to gain momentum early in the Africa Cup of Nations campaign, scoring just one goal in the group stage and ending two 0-0 draws. However, in the round of 16, the Teranga Lions finally flexed their muscles when Mané scored in a 2–0 win against Cape Verde in the round of 16. Premier League stars Cheikhou Kouyaté (Crystal Palace) and Ismaїla Sarr (Watford) scored the score in Senegal's 3-1 quarter-final victory over Equatorial Guinea.
The matchup may seem like a David vs. Goliath scenario on paper, but neither team has ever won the African Cup of Nations. However, both have finished second in the last decade, with Burkina Faso reaching the final in 2013 and Senegal losing to Algeria in 2019.
Senegal are the team most likely to progress according to the latest SkyBet odds and with a star-studded squad, it's easy to see why. Mané may be the standout star, but Senegal have a host of Premier League talent along with the three already mentioned. Edouard Mendy (Chelsea) and Nampalys Mendy (Leicester City) play in the EPL, while team captain Kalidou Koulibaly plays as a centre-back in Serie A Napoli.
Burkina Faso are trying to anger the odds-makers, but are relying on their own talisman, Aston Villa full-back Bertrand Traoré. Traoré wears the Stallions captain's armband and will be crucial to their success as Burkina Faso, with another goalscorer in every game, clearly lacks a star striker.
Cameroon vs Egypt
Cameroon and Egypt meet in a heavyweight semi-final this week. There is little to separate the two teams, ranked 50th and 45th in the FIFA rankings respectively.
Cameroon currently have the best odds, having last won the competition (2017). Egypt's last victory in Africa came in 2010. Cameroon, also known as 'The Indomitable Lions', also benefits from the form of star strikers Karl Toko Ekambi (Olympique Lyon) and Vincent Aboubakar (Al Nassr), who together score all the goals of his team. goals He has 11 goals in this tournament.
The teammates battle it out for the Golden Boot, with Aboubakar (6) leading his teammate Ekambi (5). His flurry of goals lit up the tournament, especially in Cameroon's 4-1 victory over Ethiopia in the group stage, in which both players scored twice.
For Egypt, Salah is undoubtedly the star. Liverpool's two goals helped Egypt beat Guinea-Bissau in the group stage and he added a goal and an assist to see off Morocco, the second-highest-scoring African team, in the quarter-finals. Salah also converted the decisive penalty kick to allow Egypt to overcome Ivory Coast in a round of 16 shootout.
The Pharaohs' supporters will rely heavily on their captain on Thursday, along with Aston Villa's talented midfielder Trézéguet, who also scored against Morocco.