By Beng Emmanuel
“Cameroon will not reach the knock-out stage of the 2020 CHAN”- this statement once triggered dejection, doubts and uncertainty. This is no longer the case. Beyond surviving the group stages, Cameroon got to the quarter-finals and picked a historic semi-final spot.
Cameroon’s victory over the Democratic Republic of Congo wasn’t assured from the outset. For understandable reasons, the Lions were never tipped favourites to clinch the title. An uninspiring and lifeless display in their build-up to the African Nations Championship, coupled with the absence of a domestic League suspended last March 2020.
Cameroon vs Morocco – the penultimate clash for glory
Host Cameroon and Morocco and making their fourth appearance at the African Nations Championship. It will be the first time that both teams face each other in the history of the competition.
Both teams have enjoyed diverse fortunes in their run to reaching the semi-finals. On one hand Morocco, now super favourites to retain their title with 9 goals scored and only three (3) conceded. On the other, Cameroon with four 4 goals to their credit and two (2) conceded.
Besides being one of the most dreaded side so far, the Atlas Lions can bank on a cast of stars whose impressive and threatening form has been indispensable to keep the North Africans largely out of sight. Ayoub El Kaabi, CHAN all-time leading top scorer has begun living up to the parallel having failed to impress earlier in the competition. Against Cameroon, the lethal finisher could justify his current status to prevent the Lions from claiming a win.
The Intermediate Lions may not boost of a star-studded side like their adversary. However, unlike other teams who have already crashed out, they have been able to do the essential, and have adopted the culture of winning.
Yannick Ndjeng who has struggled to nail down a regular starting place has proven to be competent in leading the attack. The terrific combination of Banga Bindjeme and Etame Ngombe at the defence is not so different from any top European pairing. They are capable to banish any offensive threats from the Moroccans. Even if they managed to bypass the defenders, they will have to beat Haschou Kerrido, already among the best goalkeepers of the competition.
What chances for Cameroon?
Cameroon’s flow of brilliance is a true reflection of their quest to emerge victorious. Despite their impressive bulletin, there is still a gap between them and Morocco.
In terms of quality, Morocco can be really devastating with the slightest opening. A swift and composed system of play made easier by collecting possession which often leaves the opponent frustrated. Up front the results are telling. Your biggest mistake should be letting them come close enough.
But, there are many ways through which Cameroon can triumph. Top on the list will be their ability to snuff out supply from Morocco’s midfield to their attackers. Apart from these and many others the Intermediate Lions must endeavour to score and produce a master class display.
There could also be returnees to the team apart from Serge Andoulou who is ruled out for up to six weeks. Thierry Tchuente and Fabrice Onana who were unavailable for the DR Congo clash are valuable additions to the Lions midfield.
Jacques Zoua also poses a great threat to the Morocco’s defence. He can exploit his physically imposing nature to shield the ball and create substantial space for his team mates to strike. Whatever the case maybe, Cameroon must present the kind of squad full of menace and creativity.
There are only two outcomes to Wednesday’s fixture. It’s either a win or a defeat. Obviously, there is no room for a draw and surely none for errors.
An optimistic Ndtoungou Mpile
The head coach of the Intermediate Lions of Cameroon was very confident during the pre-match press conference that held this morning in Limbe. He believes his team has the mettle to advance to the final despite facing defending champions Morocco.
“We are serene. If we got here it is because we showed a couple of things, so it’s up to us to go to the finals. It’s a make or break without a second chance”- Gina Informs gathered from Kick442.
“It’s a new game, and what we wish to implement isn’t what we will unveil here. We are here to win and reach the finals by making life uncomfortable for our adversaries.” Coach Mpile said.
“We think everyone has strength to bring to the table, we played against good sides like Mail and Congo but I think it will be a good game and we are determined to go through.”
“I expect the Limbe inhabitants to come out and support the team, let them join us to make history and qualify for the finals.
Inhabitants in Yaoundé and Douala did their best so if Limbe comes out, we are sure to win and go through,” he added.
Cameroon will face Morocco at the Limbe Omnisport Stadium at 8:00PM Wednesday, February 3, 2021.