Etienne Mengnjo Mainimo
This will be the first-ever encounter between Cabo Verde and Mozambique at the CAF Africa Cup of Nations. The two teams have faced each other in the past, with Cabo Verde maintaining an unbeaten record in their last three matches against Mozambique, winning two and drawing one. All of these matches took place during qualifiers for the CAF Africa Cup of Nations.
Cabo Verde’s performance in the CAF Africa Cup of Nations has shown steady progress over the years. They recently registered their third-ever win in the tournament, with their last two victories coming in the opening match of the competition. Their 1-0 win against Ethiopia in 2022 marked a significant milestone for the team. However, despite their successful outings, Cabo Verde has never managed to secure consecutive wins at AFCON, making it a challenge they hope to overcome in this edition of the tournament.
On the other hand, Mozambique has yet to taste victory in the CAF Africa Cup of Nations. In 13 attempts, they have struggled to secure a win, registering three draws and suffering ten defeats. However, one notable highlight for Mozambique was their 2-2 draw against Egypt, where they took the lead and held a 2-1 advantage for a considerable period. It was only the second time in their AFCON history that they found themselves ahead in a match, the first being in 1996 against Tunisia, when they took a 1-0 lead before drawing 1-1.
Cabo Verde has proven to be a formidable team in the group stage of the CAF Africa Cup of Nations. Out of their ten matches, they have lost only once, showcasing their consistency and ability to compete at this level. However, their lone defeat in the group stage occurred on MD2 of the 2022 tournament, where they suffered a narrow 1-0 loss to Burkina Faso. This year, they aim to build on their previous successes and secure a strong position in the early stages of the competition.
In contrast, Mozambique has struggled to keep a clean sheet in the CAF Africa Cup of Nations. In their 13 appearances, they have conceded a total of 28 goals, and in 12 of those games, they have allowed their opponents to score at least twice. This statistic highlights the defensive challenges they have faced and the need to tighten their backline to secure positive results.
When it comes to scoring crucial goals, Cabo Verde has shown a flair for late dramatics. Two of their three winning goals in the CAF Africa Cup of Nations have been scored in the 90th minute, demonstrating their ability to maintain composure and make an impact in the dying moments of matches. Héldon and Garry Rodrigues were the heroes on these occasions, scoring against Angola in 2013 and Ghana in the present tournament, respectively. Additionally, Júlio Tavares netted the other winning goal in first-half stoppage time against Ethiopia in 2022, further highlighting Cabo Verde’s ability to capitalize on key moments.
Cabo Verde’s recent victory over Ghana on MD1 of this year’s CAF Africa Cup of Nations showcased their attacking prowess. They had 15 shots in that match, surpassing the total number of shots they had in their previous three games combined. This impressive offensive display demonstrated their intent and desire to compete at the highest level. It was their highest shot count in an AFCON game since January 2015, when they faced Congo DR, once again illustrating their ability to create opportunities and aim for victory.
Mozambique, despite its struggles, has displayed diversity in its goal-scoring capabilities. In the history of their CAF Africa Cup of Nations participation, different players scored all six of their goals. This highlights the collective effort and the team’s ability to rely on various contributors to find the back of the net. Notably, four of their six goals were scored between the 54th and 58th minutes, including both goals in their 2-2 draw against Egypt on MD1 of this year’s tournament. This pattern suggests that Mozambique tends to find its rhythm and initiate its attacking prowess during this specific period of the game.
Lastly, Garry Rodrigues has proven to be a valuable asset for Cabo Verde in the CAF Africa Cup of Nations. He has scored two goals as a substitute, showcasing his impact when coming off the bench. Surprisingly, in these two substitute appearances, Rodrigues has had more shots on target (3) than in the four AFCON games he started (1 shot). This statistic highlights his ability to make an immediate impact and contribute positively to the team’s attacking efforts.