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Cameroon held to frustrating draw by 10-man Rwanda

• The Indomitable Lions finished top of group F and denied Rwanda the possibility to qualify for their second African Cup of Nation finals since 2004, after a goalless draw at the Japoma Stadium in Douala. 

By Beng Emmanuel 

Cameroon were held to a goalless stalemate against 10-man Rwanda on match day six of the 2021 African Cup of Nations on Tuesday in Douala, but finished top of group F with eleven points; only one ahead of second placed Cape Verde. 

The results implies Rwanda-who needed a win to sail through to next year’s Nations Cup have been eliminated despite putting up a spirited fight during the final qualifying process where they collected four points from their last two games. The Amavubis lost to the Indomitable Lions during the first leg 0-1 in Kigali and were set to make amends for their home loss before the draw. 

Cameroon never looked like losing the game-their first international match at the Japoma Stadium in Douala. They were the most dominant side in the first half, but could hardly create any glaring goal scoring chances to take the lead. 

Besides battling with a well-organized defence, the host were the architects of their unimpressive start. They carelessly gave up possession from the midfield and lacked the needed creativity and assured display they looked forward to put up against their group rivals. 

Vincent Aboubakar was the most impressive player in the first half. Ten minutes into the fixture, the 2017 African Cup of Nations winner riffled a surprised long range strike but was not decent enough to beat Rwanda’s keeper.

Their best chances came in midway through the first half when Fai Collins drove in an inviting cross from the right, but Aboubakar’s strike went wide after getting a superb touch of the ball. 

He had a second chance to make amends but blundered. The Lions skipper beautifully collected a pass from Jonathan Ngwem’s cross but the ball was cleared-off by the Amavubi’s defence after hesitation from the Besiktas in-form striker.  

Rwanda failed to muster any attacking moments of their own. They could barely get out of their half, and were clearly lacking any spark in the first half. Most significantly the desire to grab a win for qualification was never felt. They had only three attempts in the first half, none of them were on target.     

But the East African’s faded form upon resumption. They had hardly begun showing flashes of brilliance when Olivier Kwizera was sent-off after committing a fatal foul on Nicolas Ngamaleu. It is the second time in about 3 months that the goalkeeper has been shown red, the last time being during the 2020 African Nations championship, CHAN. 

Cameroon failed to make the most of the numerical advantage. Their only attempt after Kwizera’s dismissal came from Vincent Aboubakar. The Lions found it difficult to break their rivals despite five substitutions from Coach Toni Conceicao in the second half.  Yet they seemed to be an unlikely goal coming along.

There were many other opportunities to win the game, but the Lions attacking fluency caught cold. Their finishes weren’t just the best. 

Cameroon qualifies from the group alongside Cape Verde whom they lost 1-3 on match day five in Praia last Friday and beat Mozambique 0-1 away today. The Lions are winless in their last two games and have scored only once conceding trice. 

The Central African nation will host the 2021 African Cup of Nations next year. Only one team is left to complete the list of teams qualified after the game pitting Sierra Leone and Benin didn’t take place.  

FULL TIME 

Cameroon 0-0 Rwanda 

Mozambique 0-1 Cape Verde 

Group F Standing after match day Six 

1. Cameroon-11pts 

2. Cape Verde-10pts

3. Rwanda-6pts

4. Mozambique-4pts

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