THE DAY REPLAYED – Four-time tournament champions Cameroon came from a goal down to Guinea-Bissau and recorded a 2-1 victory at the CAF Africa Cup of Nations, while hosts Gabon were left frustrated with a second consecutive 1-1 draw, in a hard-fought encounter with Burkina Faso.
In an injury-riddled clash, Gabon and Burkina Faso’s sixth meeting in five years ended with the two sides having to settle for a point.
The hosts started on the front foot when Denis Bouanga struck the crossbar with a left-footed snapshot volley in the early stages to send warning signs to Les Étalons. There was an early setback for Burkina Faso as star man Jonathan Pitroipa was stretchered off the pitch in the opening ten minutes in what looked to be a serious injury.
However, his replacement Prejuce Nakoulma helped turn around their fortunes when he opened the scoring in the 23rd minute, finishing a counter-attack with an impressive run before squeezing a shot past Gabon goalkeeper Didier Ovono.
The hosts answered back with a goal of their own 15 minutes later when they won a penalty after goalkeeper Herve Koffi came off his line and caught Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The Borussia Dortmund man made no mistake and he sent Koffi the wrong way, much to the relief of the host nation.
Bouanga had an opportunity to give Les Panthères all three points near the end of the match, but his close-range effort was saved brilliantly by the feet of Koffi.
Debutants Guinea-Bissau took a shock first-half lead over regulars Cameroon thanks to an early goal-of-the-tournament effort from Piqueti in the 13th minute.
The winger’s impressive solo effort separated the sides at the half. Unfortunately for Piqueti, he had to come off the pitch early in the second half due to injury.
Cameroon found an equaliser through Sebastien Siani in the 62nd minute. Benjamin Moukandjo controlled a pass on top of the penalty area with his back to goal before playing in Siani. The Oostende midfielder took his shot with his first touch, firing in low and to his left post past Guinea-Bissau goalkeeper Jonas Mendes.
The Indomitable Lions’ comeback was then complete when Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui hit a similar strike to Siani’s. Christian Bassogog wriggled his way inside Guinea-Bissau’s penalty area before finding enough space to tee up the opportunity for Ngadeu-Ngadjui, who made no mistake with his effort hit to the near post from 18 yards out.
Highlight of the day
Piqueti’s first international goal was well worth the wait. The 23-year-old Braga winger scored an incredible solo goal, with the move beginning from inside his own half. The play started with a smart lob over Cameroon defender Collins Fai before he dribbled over 50 yards on the left wing and cut in and unleashed an unstoppable shot past Joseph Ondoa.
6 – Despite their drastic difference in football history, Guinea-Bissau currently lie just six spots below heavyweights Cameroon in the latest FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking.
Thursday, 19 January, Group B
Algeria – Tunisia
Senegal – Zimbabwe