• Cameroon’s hopes of ending their 26-year title drought at the Under-20 African Cup of Nations crashed as they lost to Ghana on penalties in the quater-finals
By Beng Emmanuel
Cameroon have been eliminated from the 2021 Under-20 African Cup of Nations after losing to eternal rivals Ghana 4-2 on penalties at the Olympic Stadium in Nouakchott-Mauritania on Thursday.
The thrilling tie had initially ended goalless after regular time before both teams scored once each to take the game to penalty shoot-out where their fate was decided in the most dramatic fashion.
Substitute Etienne Etoo-who starred during the clash with Mozambique assisted Kevin Prince Milla at the 103rd minute, who headed home the opener to enable Cameroon nurse hopes of a possible semi-final spot. But their lead was short-lived as Ghana responded promptly when Franck Boateng beat Junior Hecube Wilson with a nice finish to level scores only a minute after they conceded.
Ghana, that had struggled to contain Cameroon throughout the encounter then defeated their Central African rivals 4-2 on penalties after scoring four of spot kicks before Ibrahim Danlad made two crucial saves to deny Ali Goni and Kevin Prince Milla from scoring.
Cameroon becomes the first nation to exit the competition from the knock-out stages despite making a perfect start in the youth continental competition. The won all their group A games scoring six goals and conceding only once. It is their first defeat in the tournament, one which took them out of the competition.
The reigning UNIFFAC Under-20 Champions will have to wait for the next edition to end their 26-year wait for another continental crown. They only won the tournament once in 1995 when they thrashed Burundi 4-0 in Nigeria. But they have since then struggled to grab a second.
Ghana on their part are heading for a fourth continental crown after 1993, 1999 and 2009. Ghana has also beaten Cameroon twice during the final in 1993 and 2009.