AFCON 2023: Mendes penalty sends Cape Verde into quarter-finals

A late Ryan Mendes penalty was the only goal of the night as Cape Verde secured a dramatic 1-0 victory over Mauritania to book their place in the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals on Monday.

In a tense last-16 clash at the Felix Houphouet-Boigny Stadium in Abidjan, the two sides were deadlocked at 0-0 as the game entered the closing stages.

Cape Verde had dominated possession and chances, with Jovane Cabral having a goal disallowed for offside in the opening minutes. But Mauritania’s defence held firm.

As the match wore on, Cape Verde continued to press while Mauritania posed threats on the counterattack. Both sets of passionate fans roared their teams on, but a winner still eluded both.

The breakthrough finally came in the 87th minute when Mauritania keeper Babacar Niasse brought down Gilson Tavares in the box.

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Up stepped captain Ryan Mendes to smash home the penalty and make it 1-0.

With the Mourabitounes now forced to chase the game, Cape Verde stood firm to see out a famous victory and advance to the quarter-finals for the second time, where they will face either Morocco or South Africa on Saturday.


● Cape Verde have won their first knockout game ever at the CAF Africa Cup of Nations (after losing 2-0 each time, against Ghana in 2013 and against Senegal in the 2021 edition). The Blue Sharks have won three of their last four AFCON encounters (D1), more wins than in their first 11 (D6 L3).

● Mauritania have not found the net in 70% of their CAF Africa Cup of Nations games (7/10), only Guinea-Bissau registered a higher ratio (75% – 9/12) among the teams which have played at least 10 encounters in the competition’s history.

● Cabo Verde attempted 18 shots against Mauritania on the night, their highest tally at the same CAF Africa Cup of Nations game since 2010. On the opposite, the Almoravids have attempted 11 shots without a single one on target, only Ghana have fired more shots without finding the target in the same AFCON encounter since 2010 (16 shots, none on target v Côte d’Ivoire in the final of the 2015 edition over 120 minutes).

● Ryan Mendes has scored the second latest penalty goal in a CAF Africa Cup of Nations knockout game (87 minutes and 53 seconds) since Opta began to collect these data (2010), after the one scored by Javier Balboa (92 minutes and 6 seconds) with Equatorial Guinea v Tunisia on 31 January 2015 in the quarter-final (2-1).

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● Sidi Amar (Mauritania) have made eight tackles against Cabo Verde tonight (3 won), the joint-highest tally in the same 2023 CAF Africa Cup of Nations game, equaling Aïssa Laïdouni with Tunisia v South Africa. Out of the last three AFCON editions, only Adama Guira (9 with Burkina Faso v Cameroon in January 2022) has made more tackles in a same encounter in the competition.

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