- The Intermediate Lions of Cameroon are through to the quarterfinals of the African Nations Championship for the second time under Martin Ndtoungou Mpile.
By Beng Emmanuel
The Intermediate Lions of Cameroon are through to the quarter-finals of the 2020 African Nations Championship, CHAN after a goalless draw with Burkina Faso in their final group A game at the Ahmadou Ahidjou Stadium in Yaounde.
The host who needed just a draw to sail through also eliminated Burkina Faso to reach the quarter-final of the CHAN for the third time in their history after 2011 and 2016.
Coach Martin Ndtoungou Mpile made three chances to the side that drew with Mali. Etame Ngombe retained his first choice defensive role. Meanwhile while Joel Ngon A Tiati and Fabrice Onana both started. But 2017 AFCON winner Jacques Zoua missed the game due to injury.
The host wasted no time to send warning signals to their opponents. Ngon A tiati made the first attempt of the game and forced Babayoure Aboubacar to make an early save seconds into the tie.
But Cameroon suddenly dropped in form later and were almost the architect of their own downfall. They frequently gifted the ball to the Stallions who caused major threats to their defence.
Burkina Faso unleashed their furry in response but the several openings created weren’t decent enough to take the lead. Hamed Belem race on from the flanks and released a powerful left strike which settled on the roof of the net.
Hamed Belem then curled in a nice cutback but Mohamed Quattara arrived slightly late for a simple tape in. The quality of the cross was such that the forward needed only a subtle touch to open the scoring.
Hamed caused more damage for Cameroon’s defence when he served Ismahila Ouedraogo whose rushed finish went straight at Haschou Kerrido.
The intermediate Lions found some stability and regained their tempo but were marred by hush passes and wrong decisions. They managed to create some scoring opportunities; the closest was Ngon A Tiati’s header which hit the side net. They were equally denied a first half lead deep into extra time from a free-kick.
Cameroon started the second half the way the ended the first but then also struggled to contain a very fast Burkina Faso side.
Sami Hien thought he had put the Stallions in front from a well taken free-kick but Haschou kerrido produced a fantastic save to touch it over the woodwork.
Cameroon galvanized themselves but found little joy against a well-established Burkina Faso defence who stood their grounds firmly. They could barely muscle a shot nor get close enough to create panic.
However, the Lions took a lot of courage to turn things around when Ngon A Tiati squeezed through the opponents defence but couldn’t hit target properly from a low drive. Burkina Faso who needed a win to qualify for their first ever quarter-finals struggled to get a late win in vain.
In the other group A encounter played simultaneously in Douala, Mali beat Zimbabwe 1-0 to top group A with seven points. It is the third time the Eagles have secured the spot into the last eight of the CHAN after 2014 and 2016 when they finished runners-up.
Cameroon will play their quarter-final match at the 50000 Japoma Sport Complex. They are most likely to face two-time champions the Democratic Republic of Congo for a spot in the semi-finals.
Burkina Faso 0-0 Cameroon
Zimbabwe 0-1 Mali
Final Group A Standings
• Burkina Faso-4pts