Sports / Updates
Thursday, 19 Jan 2017 10:27 EATtmatalanga@kenyafreepress.com
Four-time champions Cameroon moved top of Group A as they fought back to deny debutants Guinea-Bissau a historic first win at the Africa Cup of Nations. Shock qualifiers Guinea-Bissau, making their debut at this year's tournament, led through Piquito's superb solo goal. Cameroon restored parity after the break when Sebastien Siani rifled in low from outside the penalty area. Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui drilled in another low strike as Cameroon earned their first Afcon win since 2010.
The Indomitable Lions, historically one of the dominant forces in African international football, failed to qualify for two of the three previous tournaments and lost all three games in 2015. But, after drawing their opening game against Burkina Faso, they are well placed to reach the quarter-finals. They are two points clear at the top of the group after the opening three games ended in 1-1 draws.
Earlier on Wednesday, hosts Gabon fought back from 1-0 down with a goal from their star player, Borussia Dortmund's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who scored his second goal of the Africa Cup of Nations to earn hosts Gabon a point from their match with Burkina Faso. The striker scored a 38th-minute penalty to secure his side's second 1-1 draw in Group A.
Burkina Faso took the lead when Prejuce Nakoulma latched on to a long ball and held off two players to score. Herve Koffi tipped Denis Bouanga's drive onto the bar early on and denied him again with his legs later on in the 81st minute. Those saves made up for the Burkina Faso goalkeeper's error when he brought down Aubameyang for the penalty.
Bouanga will look back at the late chance as an opportunity he should have taken, having latched on to Aubameyang's downward header in the box only to direct his shot too close to Koffi. There was still time for Bouanga to almost atone for the miss and his excellent delivery into the penalty area deserved better than to be headed wide by an unmarked Kevyn Aboue Angoue.
Burkina Faso's clearest chance was created by Alain Traore, who cut into the box between two defenders and sent a shot towards the far corner only to see it well saved by Didier Ovono. Three games so far in Group A have been drawn, with the only win being that of Cameroon against debutants Guinea-Bissau.
Burkina Faso's chances of progress appear to be higher, given they will face rank outsiders Guinea-Bissau on Sunday. Guinea-Bissau must win against the stallions to stand any chance of reaching the last eight. Burkina Faso could well be without key man Jonathan Pitroipa in their tie against Guinea-Bissau, as he was stretchered off after only 11 minutes against Gabon. Cameroon meet Gabon in Monday's final Group A game.
Matalanga is a student of journalism at the East Africa School of Media Studies and an intern writer at the Kenya Free Press.