Steven Moreira’s Cape Verde advance to the Quarterfinals of the Africa Cup of Nations

After a hard-fought battle against two underdogs in the competition, Cape Verde, with Crew’s Moreira, proved to be too much for Mauritania, with a late penalty being the deciding factor.
Cape Verde v Egypt - TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations
Cape Verde v Egypt - TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations / Visionhaus/GettyImages

The show must go on! Steven Moreira played pretty much the entire match, coming off in the 95th minute to be replaced with a fresh pair of legs, with the lead already in hand. The Crew Defender of the Year picked up a nice 7.4 FotMob rating for his solid defensive work. Moreira also helped out with the attack, boasting a 100% dribble success rate and completing eight passes into the final third. Defensively, the 29-year-old could've done a little better, and in fairness, we also have to give Mauritania credit for nearly causing another upset of their own after taking down Algeria last week. Nonetheless, Moreira won five duels, six recoveries, a clearance, and an interception. Solid work all around in continuing to help out his country.

Now for how it went down:

A late penalty from Ryan Mendes secured their advancement. This marks the second time the Blue Sharks reach the quarter-finals, having achieved it in 2013.

Mendes had a chance to score early in the second minute of the match, but it was deflected wide. His second attempt in the ninth minute was dealt with by the Mauritanian goalkeeper. Hemeya Tanji missed a scoring chance for Mauritania by mistiming his run.

The Blue Sharks continued pressing, with Bebe causing trouble. Three minutes later, he crossed into the box, but no teammate could finish. Mauritania also had chances; Sidi Buana's shot went wide, and Cape Verde's captain was denied by Babacar Niasse just before halftime.

Two minutes into the second half, Cabral's shot from a tight angle forced Niasse to punch it away. Mauritania missed a golden opportunity just before the hour mark. Cape Verde won a corner with 15 minutes left, but Joao Moreira's header wasn't strong enough.

Cabral had another near miss, Mendes was denied in the 80th minute, and Naisse fouled Gilson Tavarez, conceding a late penalty. Mendes slotted it home, securing victory and progress into the last eight.

Cabo Verde will face either Morocco or South Africa, who are set to play Tuesday evening. If no upsets occur, the Islanders will go up against the North Africans, who had a Cinderella run in the 2022 World Cup, finishing fourth.