At 8pm BST on Friday, Uganda and Senegal will go head to head at the Cairo International Stadium for their Last 16 encounter in the AFCON. Uganda qualified for this stage of the tournament by finishing in second spot behind Egypt in Group A with four points, one clear of DR Congo and five from the hosts. Senegal also came second in their group, however they earned six points from their three outings and were three points away from Algeria, and three above Kenya. On the previous occasion these two faced off, it was Senegal who took the glory in a tight 1-0 victory.
Uganda began their AFCON journey in a very positive manner, seeing off DR Congo by two goals to nil in the opening fixture through a strike in either half from Patrick Kaddu and Emmanuel Okwi. However, when Uganda came up against Zimbabwe they failed to take all three points despite getting an early lead through Okwi after twelve minutes, On the forty-minute mark, Khama Billiat leveled things up to make it 1-1 and the score remained that way until the final whistle, making the last meeting of game of the group phase versus Egypt rather unimportant as the pair had more or less progressed anyway, barring a sudden flurry of goals from Zimbabwe. Mohamed Salah and Ahmed El Mohamedy put Uganda to the sword in those ninety minutes in front of a crowd of nearly 75,000. In spite of that result, Uganda can hold their heads high as they now have a crucial match on Friday after a successful beginning to the AFCON.
Senegal are yet to draw in this competition, losing once and coming out on top on two occasions. Their first game against Tanzania was particularly comfortable and in the end they ran out victors by two goals to nil thanks to Keita Balde and Krepin Diatta in both halves. The joy of that impressive display soon turned to disappointment when Algeria saw to their first loss of the AFCON, bagging the winner shortly after half time with Mohamed Youcef Belaili grabbing the vital goal. Senegal can consider themselves unfortunate to come away with nothing from that match, but they certainly didn’t let it affect them in the final group stage game. The Premier League’s joint top scorer, Sadio Mane, missed a penalty after half an hour in the last outing which involved Kenya and Senegal, and as the hour mark reached ever closer some started to wonder whether or not it would be Senegal’s day after all. Ismaila Sarr calmed nerves with a goal sixty-three minutes in, and Mane cooly tucked the ball away almost ten minutes later in a goal of magnificent determination. Philemon Otieno was sent off for Kenya as the game came to a close, and Mane got his second from the penalty spot to make it 3-0.
There are zero injury doubts for Uganda going into this one, so all their major players will be raring to go from the very first whistle. It’s expected that they’ll line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation which has seen them undefeated thus far, while the 4-1-4-1 utilized against Egypt did not work quite as well as they would have hoped. Kaddu should start as the number nine in front of Farouk Miya, Lumala Abdu and Okwi. Khalid Aucho and Michael Azira are likely to sit alongside one another in defensive midfield, while the defense will be made up of Godfrey Walusimbi, Hassan Wasswa, Murushid Jjuuko and Bevis Mugabi.
Senegal should use the 4-2-3-1 that worked to good effect versus Kenya last time out, and with no injuries to concern themselves with there’s no end to the possibilities at Allou Cisse’s disposal. Alfred Gomis will retain his spot as number one behind a fantastic duo of Cheikhou Kouyate and Kalidou Koulibaly, with Lamine Gassama in good form as right back. Everton’s Idrissa Gana Gueye will partner Badour Ndiaye in the middle, supporting Sadio Mane, Henri Saivet and Ismaila Sarr in attack. Former AC Milan forward M’Baye Niang could play as a lone striker.
Goal-scoring has not really been a feature of this AFCON, but these two have gotten amongst the goals more than most during the tournament up to now. Uganda’s matches have seen six goals, while Senegal have netted five and conceded once in their three games thus far. Both attacks will be right up for this one and we’re going for over 2.5 goals at 2/1 with Skybet. Sadio Mane’s self belief will be sky high at the moment, having bagged twice in the final group stage matchup against Kenya. The Liverpool winger would love to get on the scoresheet again here, and Skybet have the 27-year-old at 7/5 to do so. Senegal’s defense may be rock solid most of the time, but Uganda will need to score if they’re to progress, that’s unquestionable. Because of this, we’re choosing Skybet’s price of Senegal to win and BTTS at 5/1 as our final tip for this game.