Sunday Jan 09, 2022. 20:15
Vincent Aboubakar scored a brace of penalties as Africa Cup of Nations hosts Cameroon opened the tournament with a 2-1 win over Burkina Faso in a Group A clash at the Olembe Stadium in Yaounde on Sunday.
The Indomitable Lions found themselves trailing when the Stallions’ Gustavo Sangare opened the scoring midway through the first half, but a pair of successful spot kicks from the home side’s captain, in the minutes before the interval, turned the game in their favour.
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.
The hosts made the first changes with just over 20 minutes to play, sending on Clinton Njie and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, while the Burkinabe responded with the introductions of Mohamed Konate and Zakaria Sanogo shortly thereafter.
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.
The teams will be back in Group A action on Thursday 13 January, with Cameroon taking on Ethiopia and Burkina Faso battling Cape Verde – both at the Olembe Stadium.
Cameroon (2) 2 (Aboubakar 40’ pen, 45+3’ pen)
Burkina Faso (1) 1 (Sangare 24’)
Cameroon: Andre Onana, Jerome Onguene, Michael Ngadeu, Nouhou Tolo, Collins Fai, Andre Frank Zambo Anguissa, Samuel Oum Goet, Pierre Kunde (Clinton Njie 69’), Nicolas Moumi Ngamaleu (Christian Bassogog 81’), Karl Toko Ekambi (Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting 69’), Vincent Aboubakar (Yvan Neyou 88’)
Burkina Faso: Herve Koffi, Issa Kabore, Ibrahim Blati Toure, Issoufou Dayo, Steeve Yago, Patrick Malo, Adama Guira, Cyrille Bayala (Zakaria Sanogo 71’), Gustavo Sangare, Bertrand Traore (Hassane Bande 86’), Abdoul Tapsoba (Mohamed Konate 71’)
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