Afon 2021: Cape Verde's Roberto Lopes sweats on qualification for last 16

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Roberto Lopes in action against CameroonRoberto Lopes (left) plays his club football for Shamrock Rovers in Ireland

Cape Verde defender Roberto Lopes says he will find it hard to sleep over the next two days as his side face an anxious wait to find out if they will remain in the Africa Cup of Nations.

Their tally has been enough to take teams into the knock-out phase at previous 24-team tournaments, including the 2019 Nations Cup and both 24-team European Championships.

"I'll be watching every game - I'll be on Twitter 24/7 and I don't think I'll sleep until I know the answer," Lopes told BBC Sport Africa.

"But it's part of the competition and part of the excitement to say we did all we could, and then we'll sit back and watch the games together and hopefully be celebrating entering the next phase."

By virtue of Group A finishing first, Cape Verde are the best third-placed side so far - with four of these teams making it through to the last 16.

Their four points are one better than Malawi and Tunisia in Groups B and F respectively, while Sierra Leone (Group E) have two and Ghana (Group C) and Guinea-Bissau (Group D) a point apiece.

'We gave our all for the nation'

Cape Verde are appearing at their third Nations Cup, having reached the quarter-finals on their first appearance in 2013 before exiting in the group stage two years later.

Lopes, who plays his club football in the Republic of Ireland and made his international debut in 2019, is hopeful that his side's impressive ability to come back against free-scoring Cameroon will have impressed their fans.

"I hope they'll be delighted," he said. "I know my granddad, uncles and cousins would have been watching back home, and I just hope that they are proud of this team.

"Because we gave it all for the people of Cape Verde, our team, our manager, for just the whole nation."

The island nation, who were once rated Africa's best side despite their population of just over half a million, opened their group campaign with a 1-0 win over Ethiopia before succumbing to Burkina Faso by the same scoreline.

Nonetheless, their four points on the board could be enough to squeeze through once all six pools are decided when Group F concludes on Thursday evening (kick-off 19;00 GMT).

"Qualification has been our goal from the very start and it would be unbelievable. It would give us the opportunity to kick on and maybe go far into the tournament and be something of a dark horse," Lopes added.

"We deserve to be in the next round - you don't always get what you deserve in football, but hopefully it works out for us."

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