• Cameroon failed to grab an early quarter-final spot after a 1-1 draw with Mali in a thrilling tie.
The Intermediate Lions of Cameroon were held to a draw by Mali in their second outing at the 2020 African Nations Championship as both teams struggled to grab an early quarter-final spot in vain.
Salomon Banga Bindjeme ignited the need for goals with an early first half header for the opener but Mali through Issaka Samake fought their way for an equalizer six minutes later.
Coach Martin Ndtoungou Mpile made two surprise changes to the team that beat Zimbabwe in the opener with Mfede Junior and Man Ykre Dangmo starting in place of Jacque Zoua and Bryan Soga.
Cameroon looked more likely not to lose the game from the outset when Man Ykre screamer almost put Cameroon in front, seconds into the tie but his long range screamer went wide.
The Lions quickly put themselves out of sight when Salomon Banga Bindjeme scored his second goal of the tournament as he headed home from Junior Mfede’s right cross to open the scoring after six minutes.
But their lead was short lived after Issaka Samake levelled for Mali with a sublime free-kick which left Cameroon keeper Haschou Kerrido completely helpless.
Cameroon gradually faded form and began to crumble under increasing pressure from the Eagles. But they managed to survive a scare after two defensive blunders putting their keeper under intense pressure despite making great saves to prevent Mali from taking the lead.
Cameroon woes were confirmed when coach Martin Ndtoungou Mpile made his first substitution only after 25 minutes. Coton Sport defender Etame Ngombe replaced Junior Ndedi-who had a nightmarish debut and made two great interventions to make immediate impact.
But his influence at the back couldn’t inspire his other colleagues upfront who were less lively and lacked inspiration to change the trajectory of the game before the break.
Mali returned more motivated than ever and almost went in front for the first time in the game when Moussa Ballo low drive almost deceived Haschou Kerrido but the keeper stretched out wide to keep it off target.
Cameroon managed to move forward but were less of a threat to the West African rivals as their efforts were largely below standard. Mali didn’t make things easier for the host and looked more unlikely to succumb to pressure.
The host resurgence in the game came after the half hour mark. A glaring miss from Mali further urged the Lions to mount more pressure and almost got a reward but Mfede Junior powerful left shot hit the side nets. There were little improvement from both teams thereafter as the game seemed destined to be draw.
Cameroon and Mali are tied on four points each in group A. Both teams who are in persuit of their CHAN triumph hope to wrap-up the group stage with a win to guarantee a spot to the quarter-finals.
While Cameroon face Burkina Faso, Mali take on Zimbabwe.
Cameroon 1-1 Mali
Banga Bindjeme-6min [assist Junior Ndedi/ Issaka Samake-12min
Group A Standings
Burkina Faso 0pt