First off here’s a reminder…as things stand, Sierra Leone must beat Equatorial Guinea to be able to qualify for the knockout stage. But a draw in that match on Thursday could see Leone Stars through based on the following permutations – please pay keen attention right down to the last point:

Now, Group A concluded yesterday – having played all their matches – and left no room for Sierra Leone to survive without a win on Thursday. That’s because the third-placed team in that group – Cape Verde – got FOUR points. They could snatch one of the four spots available for the best third-placed teams.

Now, today’s outcomes in the Group B matches could favor Sierra Leone! Here’s why:

If Senegal beat Malawi and Zimbabwe fail to beat Guinea, the third-placed team there will be Malawi (three points WITH a goal deficit.

In Group C matches, if Ghana (on one point right now in third) fail to defeat Comoros, they’ll be less than three points. And Comoros (with no points) must beat Ghana by a three-goal margin to be able to secure three points WITHOUT a negative goal difference.

The same scenario will be evident in Group D’s matches tomorrow. If Guinea Bissau fail to beat Nigeria and Sudan fail to beat Egypt, the third placed team will secure less than three points.

So in that case three of the six groups would have fallen below Sierra Leone with a draw against Eq. Guinea. That way, with three points and no goal deficit, Leone Stars will clinch one of the three remaining spots for best losers in third.

So, to reiterate, we must win on Thursday to qualify for the round of 16. But a draw will be enough depending on many outcomes including above, PLUS, crucially, if Algeria fail to defeat Ivory Coast. That is because if Algeria beat Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone fail to defeat Eq. Guinea, we will finish bottom of the group and not eligible for consideration. Pretty tricky and contingent upon so many ifs and buts, but still within the realm of possibility. So the most assured route – that which is in our own hands – is to defeat Eq. Guinea. Good luck to Leone Stars.