Thursday Mar 24, 2022. 12:00
Cameroon and Algeria lock horns at the Japoma Stadium on Friday in the first of a two-legged qualifier for a place at the 2022 World Cup.
Kick-off is at 7pm CAT (SA, GMT+2)
The Indomitable Lions advanced to the final stage of the qualifiers after finishing top of Group D in the second round with five wins and one defeat from their six matches.
The five-time African champions were pushed all the way by Ivory Coast and clinched their spot in the third round courtesy of a 1-0 victory over the Elephants on matchday six.
Cameroon were last in action at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations which they hosted earlier this year and came third after losing to Egypt on penalties in the semi-finals.
Toni Conceicao led them at the African showpiece but the Cameroon Football Federation decided not to renew his contract at the start of March and replaced him with Rigobert Song.
Former Indomitable Lions captain Song has been tasked with securing his country’s place at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar later this year, although his preparations suffered a setback on Monday when Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa withdrew from the squad through injury.
“Injured with his club this weekend, Frank Zambo Anguissa will miss the double confrontation with Algeria on 25 and 29 March valid for the play-offs for the 2022 World Cup in the African zone. He will be replaced by Arnaud Djoum,” a statement on the national team’s Twitter account read.
The Fennec Foxes secured a playoff berth after topping Group A by two points ahead of Burkina Faso, having gone undefeated in their six qualifying matches.
Djamel Belmadi’s side only needed a point from their final outing to keep their World Cup hopes alive and they did just that by drawing 2-2 with the Stallions.
The North Africans endured a horror AFCON campaign in Cameroon, however, crashing out at the group stages as defending champions after failing to win any of their three games.
Belmadi is determined to make up for their poor showing at the biennial tournament by booking their ticket to Qatar.
“We are focused on our goal of qualifying for the World Cup. Certainly, there is a huge pressure, but at the same time there is a great desire,” he was quoted as saying by Foot Afrique.
“The challenge is important for everyone, namely to reach the World Cup. It will be the culmination of three years of work. A qualification to the World Cup will make fans forget our rout at the African Cup.”
The Indomitable Lions have the upper hand in head-to-head meetings, boasting three wins and two draws in the previous five encounters between the two teams.
They most recently beat Algeria 2-0 in a 2018 World qualifier at the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium On October 7, with Clinton N’Jie and Frantz Pangop getting on the scoresheet.