• Cape Verde produced a commanding second half display to beat Cameroon and rekindle hopes of qualifying for next year’s African Cup of Nations.
By Beng Emmanuel
Cape Verde have taken a significant step to qualify for next year’s Africa’s Cup of Nations after an incredible comeback to beat host Cameroon 3-1 at the Estadio Nacional de Cabo Verde on Friday.
It is the first win for the Island nation since the qualifiers started in November 2019. They drew their previous four games-including the first leg against Cameroon at the Ahmadou Ahidjou Stadium (0-0), and are the only team unbeaten in group F after match day five games.
Cameroon took an early lead after Mainz midfielder Pierre Kunde Malong opened the scoring from a delightful free-kick but the host levelled through Kuca. Macky Bagnack’s second half own goal handed Cape Verde a 2-1 lead before Ryan Mendes rounded-off the scoring at the 69th minute.
It never proved to be a difficult evening for the Indomitable Lions, who despite having qualified for the 2021 Afcon headed into the tie as undisputed favourites-poised to end Cape Verdes unbeaten run.
Coach Toni Conceicao’s squad against Cape Verde excluded Andre Franck Zambo Anguissa-ruled out for UK Covid-19 travel policy and absent Eric Maxime Choupo Moting who missed after an alleged email scandal from the Cameroon Football Federation FECAFOOT.
The Lions were promising from the start. They began the game with energy and directness in all their attempts but had to battle frequently with the winds, which made the movement of the ball extremely difficult.
Despite the unavoidable climatic situation, Kunde Malong-Cameroon’s midfielder curled a nice free-kick barely fourteen minutes to help the visitors take control of the game. There were several attempts to seal it early with a second but the five time African champions lacked the penetration to trouble their opponents.
Cape Verde who had until now missed some creativity upfront levelled about ten minutes after conceding early after Cameroon’s defence failed to deal with their throw-in properly. Kuca capitalised on a loose ball to fire past Fabrice Ondoua for the equalizer from close range.
The host’s performance during the second half was even more influential and vibrant than their first forty-five minutes. They poured forward at almost every occasion and mounted pressure to Cameroon which eventually paid off when Macky Bagnack scored in his own goal.
Ten minutes later, Cape Verde leaned on a precious opening to seal their hard fought win when Ryan Mendes expectedly scored their third goal. Cameroon made several substitutions to reverse the unpleasant scene but Cape Verde made it even harder for them to achieve their goal. Martin Hongla and Njie Clinton stepped in alongside Martin Ako Assomo who made his debut for the Lions.
The results implies Cape Verde move second of group F ahead of Rwanda. They face bottom placed Mozambique in their ultimate group F clash on match day six. In the meantime, Rwanda are away to Cameroon in Douala on March 30th.
This was Coach Toni Conceicao’s first defeat since he took charge of the Cameroon national football team after Clarence Seedorf.
Cape Verde 3-1 Cameroon
Kuca 25’, Macky Bagnack (OG)59’, Ryan Mendes69’/Pierre Kunde Malong 14’
Group F Standing after Match day five
2. Cape Verde-7pts