2021 AFCON: Host Cameroon open tournament with come-from-behind win over Burkina Faso
2021 Africa Cup of Nations hosts Cameroon opened the tournament with a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Group A rivals Burkina Faso at the Olembe Stadium in Yaounde on Sunday evening.
A brace from skipper Vincent Aboubakar secured all three points for the Indomitable Lions as they lead Group A with three points.
Cameroon will take on Ethiopia and Burkina Faso will Cape Verde – both at the Olembe Stadium on Thursday 13 January.
The first real sight of goal went the way of Cameroon in the eighth minute, with striker Aboubakar showing good footwork to open a shooting chance on the edge of the penalty area, but he blazed a shot high and wide.
Four minutes later Karl Toko Ekambi beat Burkina Faso goalkeeper Herve Koffi to a long ball and managed to round the shot-stopper down the right flank, though his subsequent attempt at a cross was sliced behind for a goal kick, as the hosts missed out on a great attacking opportunity.
The Indomitable Lions had bossed the opening quarter, but the Stallions claimed the lead on 24 minutes: Bertrand Traore – who had seconds before seen a header from a corner kick cleared off the line – whipped in a cross from the right flank which was missed by goalkeeper Andre Onana and allowed Gustavo Sangare to volley home left-footed for 1-0.
Traore went from creator to being culpable for Cameroon’s equaliser late in the first half, with the Aston Villa attacker guilty of a clumsy challenge on Andre Frank Zambo Anguissa in the 18-yard area.
Initially missed by referee Mustapha Ghorbal, VAR intervened and called for the official to watch the replay – he then awarded a spot kick to the hosts and Aboubakar coolly converted for 1-1 in the 40th minute.
The Lions were soon 2-1 up via another well-taken penalty from Aboubakar in injury time before the interval. This time the spot kick was awarded for a rash, late challenge from Issoufou Dayo on Nouhou Tolo long after the latter had clipped in a cross from the left of the penalty area.
Burkina Faso looked for an equaliser early in the second half and were close to levelling the game 10 minutes after the restart, as a well-worked free kick gave Cyrille Bayala a shooting chance just a few metres from goal, but Onana made a brave block to keep Cameroon ahead.
Cameroon looked the likelier scorers at this phase of the game, with Anguissa seeing a low shot deflected just wide of the target, before Aboubakar blazed a shot off target from a tight angle on 77 minutes.
Yet the hosts did not find the third goal needed to avoid a nervy ending, with the Stallions pushing hard for an equaliser in the dying stages. However, the best chance they could muster was an injury-time effort from substitute Mohamed Konate which was comfortably saved by Onana.
Cape Verde beat 10-man Ethiopia
Coach Bubista and nine Cape Verde players were absent because of Covid and the Blue Sharks were only able to name six substitutes for their match against Ethiopia.
The east Africans went down to 10 men early on after Yared Bayeh failed to control a wayward back header and brought down Julio Tavares just outside the box in the eighth minute.
Initially shown yellow by Angolan referee Helder Martins de Carvalho, the centre-back had his card upgraded to red after a lengthy VAR check.
Substitute Mignot Debebe almost scored a freak own goal, but his miscued clearance was clawed away by Ethiopia keeper Teklemariam Shanko on the line, and Shanko then saved well from midfielder Dylan Tavares.
The islanders hit the front when a deep cross from the left flank was volleyed back across goal by the ever-bright Garry Rodrigues and striker Tavares was on hand to convert from close range.
Ethiopia made little impact going forward in front of a sparse crowd, with the majority having departed after Cameroon’s earlier victory.