The AFCON round of 16 has drawn to a close, with tournament hosts Cameroon, as well as Burkina Faso, Tunisia, Gambia, Senegal, Egypt, Morocco and Equatorial Guinea having all advanced to this weekend’s quarter-finals.
The first round of 16 of the Africa Cup of Nations didn’t pass without drama, though, with big hitters Nigeria and the Ivory Coast both dropping out of the competition and minnows Comoros pushing hosts Cameroon all the way despite having no goalkeeper.
Here we run through WhoScored.com’s best-rated XI from the opening round of knock-out fixtures at the tournament:
Goalkeeper: Mohamed El Shenaway (Egypt) – 8.25 rating
Injury forced Mohamed El Shenaway off in the dying embers of regular time in Egypt’s penalty shoot-out victory over the Ivory Coast on Wednesday night and The Pharaohs will hope it’s nothing too serious with a quarter-final meeting with Morocco to come. The 33-year-old kept his side in the tie with seven saves before being forced off.
Right back: Achraf Hakimi (Morocco) – 8.53 rating
Achraf Hakimi has scored in back-to-back matches for Morocco for the first time and saved arguably the best goal of his career in their 2-1 victory over Malawi on Tuesday evening. The Paris Saint-Germain full-back scored a stunning free-kick to win the match for his country and it now means both of his goals at AFCON have come from outside the area. Hakimi had five shots in total against Malawi, as well as making four tackles and interceptions combined.
Centre back: Eric Bailly (Ivory Coast) – 7.67 rating
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Manchester United defender Eric Bailly ended up missing the penalty that dumped Ivory Coast out of the competition but it shows just how well he was playing prior to his spot-kick that he still makes the best rated XI for the round of 16. Bailly was always in the right place at the right time to alleviate danger, with five tackles and interceptions combined and 10 clearances. The 27-year-old also blocked four of Egypt’s attempts on goal and moved the ball out of defence with two successful dribbles.
Centre back: Saul Coco (Equatorial Guinea) – 8.30 rating
Equatorial Guinea pulled off one of the surprise results of the round of 16 by eliminating Mali on penalties, with centre-back Saul Coco picking up the WhoScored Man of the Match award. Coco dispatched his penalty in the shoot-out and was colossal at the back from start to finish. The 22-year-old made five tackles and interceptions combined, blocked three shots, won three aerial duels and made seven clearances to help his side kept a clean sheet in normal time.